Creating an UpdraftPlus Backup Regime


UpdraftPlus Backup LogoAs I said in my previous post, UpdraftPlus has been my weapon of choice to backup my WordPress Installations for some time now. Here I’ll show you how to put together a rolling UpdraftPlus backup regime that allows you to instantly restore your site from copies up to fourteen days previously.

For the purposes of this post I’ll be using Dropbox as an off-site storage platform, since it’s by far the easiest to configure for beginners and because a basic Dropbox account should be big enough to contain ordinary websites¹.  UpdraftPlus will of course work with many other Cloud Storage providers. You can find setup information for other providers on the UpdraftPlus website. Further, these instructions will work with both the free and premium versions of the plugin.

So… let’s configure UpdraftPlus Backups.

You’ll find the UpdraftPlus dashboard hidden in your WordPress “Settings” menu on the left-hand side of your WordPress Dashboard navigation [screenshot].

Set a Backup Schedule
In the UpdraftPlus dashboard, click on the “Settings” tab. This takes you to the main Scheduling and Remote Storage page [screenshot]. Here you’ll be setting how frequently UpdraftPlus backs up your website, how many historical backups to retain, and where to store them off-site.

In the “Files backup schedule” row, select “Daily” in the first drop-down menu and “00:00” in the Timing Field. Then specify that the plugin retains the last “14” backups [screenhot].  This tells UpdraftPlus to backup the files in your WordPress installation at midnight each day, and to retain the last fourteen backups before starting to “roll“. I’ll get back to this term in a moment.

Meanwhile, let’s take a second to specify the scheduling for your site’s Database being backed up. The database is basically WordPress’ brain. If it gets corrupted or infected, your website becomes “Mentally Ill” and you’re facing the daunting task of having to restore sanity. This is especially daunting if you’re not technically adept and/or not familiar with the inner workings of a WordPress database. With this firmly in mind, let’s make sure we keep your site’s brain safe and sound.

In the “Database backup schedule” row, select “Every 12 Hours” in the first drop-down menu and “00:00” in the Timing Field. Then specify that the plugin retains the last “28” backups [screenhot]. Now head down the bottom of the page and click “Save Changes” before you do anything else.

Congratulations, you’ve just set up a really comprehensive backup schedule that should keep you safe even if your website is compromised in some way.

Also, before I forget… Rolling is simply the practice of deleting the oldest backup once a new one is saved, after the specified number has been retained. Ergo, once Day-15’s file backup is complete, Day-1’s is deleted, and so on, down the line. With a fourteen day rolling backup schedule, you should always be able to restore a clean version of your WordPress website, even if it ends up getting hacked… unless you’re really not paying attention.

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So now you’ve blindly followed my advice, let me give you an insight into why what you just did is important.

Even if you only work on your website a couple of times per week, it’s still out there in the cold, 24/7, being attacked by hackers, malicious scripts, spam-bots, and an assortment of other nastiness. And, as I’ve said elsewhere, “there’s no such thing as perfect security“, which means that there’s always an outside chance of something sneaking past security, even a plugin as capable as Wordfence Security. If this happens, it’s far easier to restore a clean version of your website than it is to try and disinfect everything by hand or, worse still, having to pay someone to do it for you.

The trouble is that most website owners don’t monitor their sites as closely as they really should, so several days may pass between the site becoming infected, and the owner realizing what’s happened. With a standard 3-Day Rolling Backup Regime in place, you’re basically up-the-creek without the proverbial paddle just 72 hours after a breach, unless you’ve noticed what’s going on in the meantime. Running a 14-Day Rolling Backup, on the other hand, leaves you basically impervious, unless you’re really not paying attention to your website… in which case it’s probably time to consider a career change from Webmaster to Baker, since you’re simply not cut out for this whole “Internet Thing“.

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Exporting UpdraftPlus Backups to “The Cloud”

But what if your server burns down or your web host goes bust without notice? 

Unless you can get your backups away from your actual website, you’re still vulnerable to a wide variety of catastrophes. If you ever meet me in person, buy me a beer and I’ll tell you some horror stories about catastrophic data loss.

Note that in order for these instructions to work, you need at least a basic Dropbox Account, and to have the Dropbox Application installed on your computer. Click here to get Dropbox set up, if you haven’t already done so.

Getting Backups into your Dropbox

Staying on the same page, scroll down slightly and click the Dropbox Icon icon in “Choose your remote storage” list [screenshot].

This opens up a set of options immediately below the list [screenshot]. Don’t worry about these for the moment. We’ll get back to them in a second. Now scroll down to the bottom of the page and click the “Save Changes” button again. Once the page has saved, scroll back up and click the “After you have saved your settings…” link shown in the screenshot above… This pops up a Cropbox Permissions Page [screenshot]. Here, simply click “Allow“, and you’re finished.

All UpdraftPlus Backups will now be exported to Dropbox automatically.

Only one thing remains to be done… check to make sure it’s all working properly.

Click on the “Current Status” tab near the top of the page. This takes you – unsurprisingly – to UpdraftPlus’ “Current Status” page [screenshot]. This is the place where you can tell UpdraftPlus to Backup or Restore immediately. If you have the premium version you’re also able to Clone or Migrate your WordPress Installation². Once you’re there, click the “Backup Now” button to pop up the Backup Dialog [screenshot]. Name your backup and click the “Backup Now” button, and you’re finished.

Depending on the size of your website, backing up will take between two and fifteen minutes, and once UpdraftPlus has completed the job you should see five different backup archives in your Dropbox folder.

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That’s it. If Wordfence is set up already, your WordPress Installation is now protected as well as it’s possible to be… If not, go set it up now, since any backups you make are besically not 100% reliable until your website has some decent intrusion protection.

Other Posts in this Set: 

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¹ Caveat: Bear in mind that your basic Dropbox account comes with 2 Gigabytes of storage. If you’re running an e-commerce store or a large-scale news archive, you’re likely going to need a bigger Box when running a 14-Day Rolling Backup Regime. 

² If you’re a developer or a site owner who’s used to moving websites from staging servers to their “live” homes, the Premium version of UpdraftPlus will save you an unbelievable amount of time.




  1. Configuring Wordfence Security beyond the basics - Sasch - July 27, 2016

    […] Pt 3: Creating an UpdraftPlus Backup Regime […]

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