If you have a WordPress site, it’s important to make regular backups of your site. Many hosting providers like SiteGround create backups of your site automatically. While that’s a very nice feature for a hosting provider, it’s also good to keep some backups at an external location. This way, if you ever lose access to your hosting, you’ll still be able to access your website’s (backup) files. Luckily, there are great solution to create automatic scheduled backups to external storage providers like Google Drive or Dropbox. In this post, I’ll explain how.

WordPress backups to Google Drive

Google Drive
Google Drive

First of all, you’ll need an account at the cloud storage provider where you want to save your backups. For instance, Google Drive or Dropbox. Also, please make sure that you have enough free storage space in your account to store your website’s backups. A free Google account has 15GB storage, which is shared between all Google services (like Gmail and Google Drive). If you don’t have sufficient storage space, an upgrade to 100GB will set you back $1.99 per month.

Step 1: Install the UpdraftPlus plugin

To start, login to your WordPress admin panel. Go to Plugins > Add New and then search for a plugin called UpdraftPlus:

UpdraftPlus WordPress plugin
UpdraftPlus WordPress plugin

Now click the Install button and then Activate to activate the plugin on your WordPress site. UpdraftPlus now should automatically invite you to start configuring the plugin via the modal shown below:

UpdraftPlus settings
UpdraftPlus vraagt na installatie om de plugin in te stellen

Click “Press here to start!” to begin setting up the UpdraftPlus plugin.

Step 2: UpdraftPlus settings

UpdraftPlus will automatically take you to a screen where you can configure all the settings for backups. Go to the Settings tab to indicate how often you’d like the plugin to do an automatic backup and how many backup you want to store at the same time:

UpdraftPlus backup schedule

The backup schedule above shows that I’ve set up a daily backup for both my files and my MySQL database. I’ve also selected a backup retention of 7, meaning that the 7 most recent backups will always be retained. It’s worth noting that for larger websites, this may not fit in a free Google Drive package.

Now select which files you’d like to be part of each backup:

Backup files UpdraftPlus

I personally always select all: plugins, themes and uploads. This way, I’ll always have a full backup available of my site. If I ever need to restore a backup, I’ll have all the files available in the same place.

Step 3: Give UpdraftPlus access to your Google Drive

Now that you’ve configured all the settings that come with the UpdraftPlus plugin, it’s time to give UpdraftPlus access to your Google Drive. You’ll need this for the plugin to be able to store backups on your Google Drive. To give the plugin access, stay in the Settings tab and select the cloud storage provider where you’d like to store the backups. You can choose Google Drive, but also other services like DropBox, OneDrive and even e-mail.

Backup destinations UpdraftPlus

In this example we’ll click Google Drive to start setting up the connection between our Google account and UpdraftPlus. After clicking on Google Drive, you’ll be prompted to Save the settings before clicking the Sign in with Google button:

Sign in with Google
Sign in with Google

After clicking the button, select the Google account that you’d like to use and login:

Select the Google account you'd like to use
Select the Google account you’d like to use

After selecting your account, Google will ask if you want to provide UpdraftPlus the relevant access to your Google Drive folders. It will not only ask to add files, but also to change and remove files. This is needed, because old backups will also need to be deleted according to the retention scheme you chose in the previous step.

After connecting UpdraftPlus with Google, you’ll arrive in a final screen where you nee to click Complete setup. That will take you back to the UpdraftPlus screen in the WordPress admin. This is where you’ll see when the next backup is scheduled. In the below example that’s set for 31st of July at 31 minutes past midnight:

Next scheduled backup

Want to do a test to make sure that backups actually arrive in your Google Drive? You can click the Backup Now button to have UpdraftPlus create a backup instantly. If you’re using the free version of UpdraftPlus, this backup will automatically land in a folder named UpdraftPlus in Google Drive:

UpdraftPlus folder in Google Drive
UpdraftPlus folder in Google Drive

This folder contains all the backups created by UpdraftPlus in a ZIP format. That comes in handy when you need to download a backup as you won’t need to download all the files separately.

I recommend to create your first backup manually by using the Backup Now button. This way you’ll be able to quickly identify how much MB (or GB) one backup is taking. Multiply this with the amount of backups you’ve configured to be retained, and you’ll know how much storage space your backups will ultimately take on your Google Drive.

Managing and restoring backups

If something ever goes wrong with your website and you can’t fix it yourself, it can help to restore a backup. It could be that your website stops working when you install a new plugin or even an update to an existing plugin or theme. You can then restore a backup from before that installation/update, so at least your website will start working again. This will buy you some time in troubleshooting what caused the issue.

From the WordPress admin

If you still have access to the WordPress admin, UpdraftPlus has the option to restore backups directly from the UpdraftPlus menu. This works as long as you keep the connection between UpdraftPlus and Google Drive activated.

Recent backups in UpdraftPlus
Recent backups in UpdraftPlus

This list will show you all the recent backups and allows to restore backups easily by clicking the Restore button. UpdraftPlus will then fetch the related backup of your site from Google Drive and restore your site to how it was at the time of the backup.

Please note: When you restore a backup, any changes you made in the meantime will be lost. For example, changes to content, pages, layout and also comments placed by your visitors.

No access to the WordPress admin? Try this

If you have lost access to your WordPress admin, you can still download the backup manually from Google Drive. You can then try to restore the files via an FTP connection. You can restore the MySQL database via your web hosting’s control panel. This can be a bit tricky if you’re not familiar with this. In that case I’d highly recommend to ask your web developer to check this for you. You can also ask help from your web hosting provider.

Finally

Making backups of your WordPress site is extremely important. With UpdraftPlus you have the option to add an extra layer of security to your backup schedule. UpdraftPlus stores your backups in an external location, which means you’re not fully depending on your web hosting.

You can also use the UpdraftPlus plugin with other storage providers, like Dropbox. In that case you can still follow the steps described above, just select a different storage provider in step 3.

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Author

Hi! I'm Wouter Postma, a digital and WordPress specialist from The Netherlands. In my free time, I work on digital projects and blog about WordPress and digital topics.

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