5 WordPress Plugins for Backups and Migrations

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This article is part of a series created in partnership with SiteGround. Thank you for supporting the partners who make SitePoint possible.

Backing up your website data just isn’t as complicated as it used to be. All websites need a backup plan in place, and there’s really no excuse not to have one — it’s really easy to handle with the tools available today, especially when running a WordPress site. Large or small, highly trafficked or those without many visitors – all websites have work put into them that you don’t want to have to redo if that site is lost or damaged in some way.

In WordPress, there are many plugins and services that can be used to fill that need for backing up data. The reason that migration tools for WordPress often go hand-in-hand is because often, similar tools can be used for both purposes, as a migration can, in some cases, be similar to backing up the site and then restoring it (albeit in another location).

You can learn more about backing up your WordPress sites manually and easily in SitePoint’s course Build a Custom WordPress Theme. For a quick and simple introduction in WordPress security, check out our sample video from the How to Secure Your WordPress Site mini course which you can preview below:

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However, if you are a fan of backups using WordPress plugins rather than performing manual backups, then, without further ado, here are five of the better WordPress backup and migration tools out there:

1. All in One WP Migration

All in One WP Migration is an excellent migration tool for WordPress sites. This plugin is my personal favorite for migrating WordPress websites, as thus far it’s worked every time without a hitch for me. I tend to use migration tools when moving a site from a development environment to production for the first time, or from a private to a public development environment, regardless of whether the long term solution requires more complicated deployment procedures.

All in One WP Migration works flawlessly with a variety of kinds of WordPress sites — the hosting platforms, plugins, and themes don’t seem to matter at all. Uploads to new platforms are done using chunks of data, so as to bypass the upload limits in place on some servers.

The process is incredibly easy. Once the plugin is installed and activated, you just choose All-inOne WP Migration from the sidebar, and “Export”. Then choose an “Export To” – export to file (download a file), or export via one of the following services that can be connected:

  • FTP
  • Dropbox
  • Google Drive
  • Amazon S3
  • OneDrive
  • Box

In addition, you can specify find-replace fields. This is useful when transferring a site from one domain to another (transferring a WordPress site from dev.example.com to www.example.com, perhaps). This will allow the plugin to replace the old text with the new text as it exports, preparing the data for seamless import into the new environment.

Importing is a similar process. In the new environment, install WordPress, add and activate the same plugin, and choose Import. Follow the prompts to import your exported data from the old environment, and in no time you’ll be looking at a migrated mirror copy of the site!

2. UpdraftPlus

UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup is an easy-to-use backup solution for WordPress websites. UpdraftPlus can be used to manually back up your site, or it can be set on a specific schedule to allow for automatic backups. In addition to the ability to back up onto the hosting platform that the WordPress site already resides on, the plugin supports the following services as backup destinations:

  • Amazon S3
  • Dropbox
  • Google Drive
  • Rackspace
  • FTP + SFTP
  • … and more

In addition, the paid version of UpdraftPlus includes even more choices. UpdraftPlus is one of the highest rated and most used WordPress backip solutions out there, and it’s hard to go wrong with it.

Backups of site files, plugins, themes, and the WordPress database are supported, at varied schedules or all together. Additionally, UpdraftPlus can also be used as a migration tool, although some of the more dedicated migration tools might be a bit simpler or smoother if migration is the requirement, rather than backup.

Restoring from backups just requires one to set the plugin up and import a backup dataset. Testing backups is always good, so it’s worth it to occasionally spin up a test WordPress site and import one of your backups, to make sure all is working — and with Updraft Plus, it should be!

3. Duplicator

Duplicator advertises itself as a bit of a player in both the migration and backup arenas. Duplicator backs up WordPress sites into a single zip file, including plugins, themes, and the database. This can be done manually, in the free version.

As a migration tool, or when restoring from a backup, Duplicator is somewhat unique from some of the other plugins, as it does not require an existing WordPress installation. Instead, you upload the backup files to the server in question, run the installer file, and the site files are created for you.

Another interesting feature of Duplicator is the ability to use Duplicator packages as pre-configured sites. If you often build new WordPress sites for clients, and typically start with the same sets of plugins, settings, and themes, you could set up the development version of a client project, without specific information for that project, then save the backup package.

Now, when you go to start a new project, you simply have to fire up the installer and install that new project template, alter a few items such as the website URL, and off you go, a quick start. When you have another new project – you can repeat that process again, saving tons of time in the process.

4. VaultPress

VaultPress is a WordPress backup plugin that is unique for two reasons. The first is that it is built by Automattic. This is an automatic benefit (the bad puns though!) when dealing with WordPress because, of course, if anyone would know WordPress plugins and support, it would be the company that runs WordPress.com!

The second fun fact about VaultPress is that it now comes packaged as yet another awesome feature of Jetpack, which many WordPress sites already use.

So, for pricing, you can refer to the pricing pages at VaultPress/Jetpack, but you’re looking at $39 per year and up, so not bad for the total sum of features that VaultPress offers, and definitely a steal when you include all of Jetpack.

VaultPress will back up everything. Files, pages, posts, comments, database. It does it all. Coupled with the above benefits, and if you’re willing to pay a small fee for the service, it doesn’t seem like you could go wrong using VaultPress for your backups.

5. WP Migrate DB

WP Migrate DB is the last, but not least, of my five choices for the day. This plugin’s flaw (and its strength) is in its granular approach to backup. It explains in detail what it’s doing — dumping databases to SQL files.

The service is for backup of databases only — posts, pages, settings, and other irreplaceable content. The stuff that can’t be quickly re-downloaded, but would be instead lost forever if things went awry.

This plugin will let you choose database table to migrate or to leave out, let you filter the types of posts you want to backup, and will work with very large databases. It is a solid platform for WordPress database backup.

It also has a pro version that will enable even more features, as well as a level of support, which alone might make it worth investigating for some users.

Wrapping Things Up

These are just five of the many, many backup and migration tools out there for WordPress sites. They are not necessarily the best, but they are five that are fairly well reviewed by the community and that I’ve used myself in several of these cases. It’s a good starting point for WordPress developers, but we shouldn’t forget the crucial tenets of backing up: back up often, back up to another location, and make sure you schedule time to check your backups!

Migration tools really boil down to what works best in your development and migration flow, which is different for all of us. The fact remains that simple and error-free is your primary goal — you need to trust a migration system as much as you do one for backups!

The main thing is that you’re doing backups. The service you use can depend on your situation. In fact, some web hosts will take care of migrations and backups. For example, SiteGround provides a daily backup service. This provides constant, reliable security, with offsite backups that will give customers peace of mind. In this case, any backup plugin is just icing on the cake!

Jeff SmithJeff Smith
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Jeff works for a startup as a technical writer, does contract writing and web development, and loves tinkering with new projects and ideas. In addition to being glued to a computer for a good part of his day, Jeff is also a husband, father, tech nerd, book nerd, and gamer.

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