How to Take Incremental Backups in WordPress

Maedah Batool
Maedah Batool

Keeping a regular backup for your website will help you to restore lost data if something goes wrong. Incremental backups take it a step farther, backing up only the changes since the last backup, the perfect mix of safety and efficiency.

You must have heard people narrating their data loss horror stories, in which they were unable to recover their data because they were not keeping backups. Backups are no less than website insurance. It is like you have placed copies of your data in some safe locker, and in a case of emergency, you retrieve it and use it to rebuild your site. WordPress plugins have been very helpful in this respect, and you find many good choices to opt from to create backups easily. When a backup is created, you will want it to contain everything from the website at that very moment (files, database, etc).

Backups Secure a WordPress Website

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WordPress security has been a discussion for quite a long time, and you find ample content regarding it. Backups are a permanent solution which should be in your arsenal of tools used to secure a site. However, WordPress backups can consist of different types, such as:

  • Manual: Here all your web files (like plugins, themes, uploads directory) and database are downloaded manually via PhpMyAdmin, the terminal, FTP, etc. Manual backups are not so handy if you are making regular changing on your WP site. They require more time and more work. If you’re determined to perform manual backups, though, you can learn more about it on SitePoint Premium
  • Automatic: You’ll use a WordPress plugin or some service to automatically take a backup. Plugins can be configured for the time interval (i.e. daily, weekly, monthly, hourly) at which the backup is to be made.
  • Real-Time: These backups are synchronized live as you make any changes in your site content.
  • Full-Site Backups: Here, the backups are taken for the entire site and not just the database or an XML export of the content.
  • Incremental Backups: It is a type of backup that only copies files and data that have changed since the previous backup.

Incremental Backups

The primary purpose of this post is not, however, to highlight the importance of backups. I’m sure most of you are already aware that you need backups. Instead, I’m going to specifically discuss incremental backups, which not only offer site security, but also save web resources. But I get into further details let’s take a look at the few of the basics about incremental backups.

For example, consider that a full-site backup was made on Day 1. An incremental backup taken later will save all of the files which have been changed since Day 1’s backup. However, the next incremental backup will only backup files that have changed since the most recent incremental backup, and so on. The process is repeated until another full-site backup is performed.

The main advantage of incremental backups is that fewer files are backed up daily, allowing for shorter backup windows (backing up full sites can sometimes cause performance issues and require longer backup windows). In this way, you can preserve web resources like server memory and storage space usage.

Hopefully, by now, you recognize the usefulness of taking incremental backups for your websites. There are a couple of go-to backup plugins for it, but the WP Time Capsule plugin replaces the need for nearly all backup solutions out there.

WP Time Capsule

WP Time Capsule

Of all backup plugins, the WP Time Capsule offers one of the best implementations of taking incremental backups for a WordPress website. Upon installing the plugin, it takes an full backup of your site, including the database and files. Later, it only updates the changes which are made. This is impressive as it tends to utilize less of the server’s bandwidth. A complete site backup may be hundreds of MB large, but the many tiny changes are usually small enough that they get updated in a fraction of a second.

This plugin is aimed towards saving your time while creating automated backups. In addition, the WP Time Capsule plugin lets you create, schedule and send backups straight to Google Drive, Dropbox, and AWS automatically. Once a backup has been performed, it uses the app’s native versioning system to detect file changes in the future. Since only the modified files are backed up, WP Time Capsule lessen the burden of your storage and memory that might otherwise be retaining multiple huge backups. Likewise, retrieval of backups is also quick. Once the plugin setup is complete, all you need to do is to connect it with a account.

WP Time Capsule Login

If you don’t have an account, then you can sign up for one.

WP Time Capsule - Enter Email

After you’ve entered your email id, you’ll be directed to this sign-up form.

WP Time Capsule - New Account

The basic version of this plugin is available for free, but you can purchase the paid one as well for more advanced features. The monthly price is $5 per site, which is quite reasonable. However, if you are looking for other paid solutions for taking incremental backups, especially of multiple WordPress websites, then you might be interested in ManageWP, which has been around for quite a long time.

ManageWP Backups


When you have to manage multiple WordPress websites, ManageWP is a traditional web application that you can use to do so. It offers one-click access to all of your websites from a single dashboard. This means you can monitor the security and backups from one place. Recently, they’ve undergone a major service upgrade which they call Orion. ManageWP Orion offers the ability to take incremental cloud backups. You can take a sigh of relief and let Orion make regular site backups. This is a great feature to have because the backups are stored on Amazon Web Services. With Orion, however, backups can only be scheduled on a monthly basis, which is where it lags behind the WP Time Capsule plugin. And if for some reason ManageWP doesn’t meet your needs for a multiple site management system to do your updates and backups, you can also check out this post on InfiniteWP, another potential solution.


Scheduling manual backups regularly is a tiresome process which you cannot repeatedly do. It is a waste of time, and is unreliable, depending on your busy schedule and your memory. With automatic, incremental backup solutions available, this is a set-it-and-forget-it situation. Especially when you are preserving web resources at the same time! So, it’s time for you to shift from traditional backups to incremental ones. What type of backup solution are you using? Is it incremental? Share your experience about it and drop your feedback in the comment box below!