You’d never want to lose all the time and money you’ve invested in your website or blog if your web host goes up in flames, or you inadvertently delete a file. Keeping regular backups of your site can ensure that your files aren’t permanently lost or damaged, that something awful happens to your site. With automatic backups, you don’t have to remember to back up your site.
Thankfully, there are plenty of WordPress plugins available that automate the backup process and makes it easy to both backup and restore your website. Of the countless plugins available, WordPress Backup to Dropbox (WPB2D) is simple, powerful, and it just works. Set it and Forget It. They automatically handle everything.
While backups are certainly necessary, where you keep your backup is also an important decision. Cloud storage is becoming more and more popular these days. With cloud storage, all your files are stored off-site where they are invulnerable to fires, theft, or other disasters and assure you that your site can still be restored.
Dropbox is a very popular cloud storage service because it’s amazingly fast, reliable, secure, simple file syncing, and easy to use. However it comes with 2 GB of space, you can get up to 16 GB of free space through referrals, which is sufficient for most sites. You can also upgrade your plan if you need more storage space. Dropbox works on a variety of platforms, so you will always have access to your files, no matter where you are in the world or what device you’re on. Plus there is no individual file size limit so you can fully utilize the free storage it offers.
Another best thing about Dropbox is that it has a built-in functionality to restore the previous versions of files or even deleted files. It takes periodic snapshots of every change in your Dropbox folder over the last 30 days, allowing you to restore files and folders if they are ever corrupted or accidentally deleted.
Let’s dive into the configuration steps.
Backing up WordPress to Dropbox using WPB2D plugin
WordPress Backup to Dropbox is one of the popular backup plugins for WordPress that automatically backup your entire WordPress blog straight to your Dropbox account. All you need to do is choose a day, time and how often you wish your backup to be performed and kick back and wait for a copy of your website files and a SQL dump of its database to be dropped in your Dropbox.
You can also set where you want your backup stored within Dropbox and you can exclude files or folders from the backup as deep as you like. The plugin’s simple interface lets you setup automated backups in a matter of minutes giving you peace of mind that your site is always backed up in the Dropbox without having to think about it.
- PHP 5.2.16 or higher with cURL support
Note: Version 1.3 of the plugin supports PHP < 5.2.16 and can be downloaded here.
The plugin uses OAuth to keep your Dropbox account details safe. This means your credentials are not stored in the plugin to gain access.
How it works?
Once the initial backup is done, all subsequent backups are incremental. This means the plugin will only uploads files that are new or have changed since the last backup, thereby decreasing the bandwidth on your server and reducing the time taken to complete the backup. The only exception is your SQL database that will always be backed up.
Configuring the plugin:
This tutorial assumes that you already have a Dropbox account.
Installing the plugin
Step 1: From your dashboard, simply go to Plugins and click “Add New”, then search for WordPress Backup to Dropbox. Click Install Now and then Activate Plugin.
Step 2: Once activated, you’ll see a new menu item listed ‘WPB2D’ on the left hand side of your admin panel.
Authorizing the plugin with Dropbox.
Step 3: Hover the cursor over the WPB2D menu and click on Backup Settings.
Step 4: The first time you access the settings, you’ll be asked to authorize this plugin with your Dropbox account. So go ahead and click the “Authorize” button.
Step 5: The pop-up window will be prompt asking for authorization. Click on “Allow”.
Step 6: Once you have granted access to the plugin, it’ll create a sub-folder named ‘wpb2d’ in the ‘App’ folder of your Dropbox. This is where the backup is to be stored inside your Dropbox.
Scheduling the backup
Step 7: Now return to the previous tab and click “continue”.
> You are presented with the settings page where you can set the following:
- Store backup in a subfolder of the wpb2d app folder – Backups are saved in apps/wpb2d. If you back up several sites into the same Dropbox and want to organize with sub-folders, then check this box to create a sub-folder. e.g. one site in “apps/wpb2d/website1”, another in “apps/wpb2d/website2”, etc.
- Day and Time – Set the day and time that you wish your backup to be performed.
- Frequency – Select how often do you want to back up your site. Select your preference from Daily, weekly,fortnightly (every 2 weeks), every 4 weeks, every 8 weeks and every 12 weeks. Since it only backs-up increments, choosing the daily backup isn’t a bad choice at all.
- Excluded Files and Directories – This option allows you to exclude files or folders from as deep as you like. Checked files/folders will be excluded from the backup, whereas unchecked files/folders will be included in the backup. It is a very useful option for reducing your backup file size.
You might be wondering what to exclude from the backup? Normally, backup of WordPress core (wp-admin) is not necessary, since you can always obtain this again from WordPress.Org. The wp-content folder is a very important folder for your site which contains all your uploads, plugins, themes, and additional files created by plugins. So ignore everything listed in the root except the “wp-content” directory. To do this simply click “All” and un-check the wp-content folder.
As you can see, when the contents of a directory are partially included, the checkbox is marked as with a circle.
There are few unnecessary folders you don’t want to back up from your wp-content folder such as upgrade, cache, backup and backups. If you have a caching plugin installed, the cache files are stored in “/wp-content/cache/” and they get updated all the time (or at least, every time someone access a portion of your site). Since they take up much resources (both time and space) for nothing, you will definitely want to exclude any such directories from your backup.
The directories that need to be excluded:
- wp-content/cache/ : the directory for the cache files used by WP super cache and so on.
- wp-content/tmp/ : the directory for the cache files used by DB Cache Reloaded Fix and so on.
- wp-content/w3tc/ : the directory for the cache files used by w3total cache.
I have checked some unnecessary folders here.
Step 8: Once done, hit Save changes and now you’ll see the next scheduled backup at the top.
That’s it! From now on, the plugin will automatically backup your site to Dropbox on schedule.
Running a manual backup
Step 9: Now that you have scheduled your backup. It’s time to run your first backup. To do this click on “Backup Monitor” under the “WPB2D” menu and click “Start Backup “to start the backup right away.
Wait for the initial backup to begin. The first backup might take time depending on the size of your site. Once the backup begins, you’ll see the log of the current backup process.
Step 10: Once the full backup is complete, check your Dropbox folder to make sure everything is backed up (look in Apps/wpb2d) and rest easy knowing your WordPress site is safe.
If you’re still getting errors or run into problems, start a new thread and get support from plugin forum or shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, don’t forget to read the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). There are lots of questions answered in the FAQs so better check out the FAQs first before asking for support.
Furthermore, the plugin gives you a couple of premium add-ons that add extra functionality to WordPress Backup to Dropbox.
- Zip backup($19) :This extension will create a zip archive of your files and database before uploading it to Dropbox and thus reduces the size of the backup file. The zip extension will zip up and store as many versions of your site as you wish, defaulting to 5.
- Email notifications($9) : The plugin notifies you via email when your backup completes or has any issues.
You can install this from the “premium extensions” menu under wpb2d.
Other Best Dropbox backup plugins you may also want to try
While I’m a huge fan of WPB2D, there are lots of other awesome plugins you can use to backup your site.
1. BackWPup Free: BackWPup is another free plugin that automatically backs up your WordPress database and files to Dropbox (based on cronjobs). It also allows you to send your backups to your own server as well as remote locations such as the Amazon S3 cloud, RackSpace Cloud, SugarSync, FTP, email and more. It gives you control over what files, folders, and database tables you want to backup. You can store the backup in different file format like .zip, .tar, tar.gz, etc. With a single backup .zip file, you are able to easily restore a complete installation.
Another great feature of backWPup is that it has the ability to set multiple jobs with different schedules. Besides backup, the plugin can check, repair and optimize your database. They also offer a Pro version that comes with some added bells and whistles that you may need.
BackWPup is a popular backup plugin for WordPress with more than 1,000,000 downloads and receiving a user rating of 4.3 out of 5. Available Languages: English, French, German, Russian & Simplified Chinese.
2. UpdraftPlus: UpdraftPlus creates backup archives of all your themes, plugins, uploads and database and upload it to your Dropbox account. You can specify how many backups should be kept and how often backups should be taken. You can even send yourself an email report when it’s done. You also have the option to restore your backup with a single click. The plugin also supports many different remote storage services: Amazon S3, Google Drive, Rackspace Cloud, DreamObjects, FTP, SFTP, SCP, WebDAV and email. UpdraftPlus supports chunked, resumable uploads (i.e. interrupted jobs can be resumed where they left off), so no matter how big your site is, UpdraftPlus can upload it a little at a time, and not get thwarted by timeouts.
UpdraftPlus is the highest-ranking backup plugin of any WordPress backup plugin at wordpress.org and receiving a user rating of 4.9 out of 5.
These are the plugins that I have tried and really liked their functionality. If you find others that you like, please let me know in the comments so that I can check those out too!