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How to Create Automatic Daily Backups of your WordPress Blog for Free

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The Scenario:
You’ve spent hundreds or thousands of dollars paying a Developer to create the perfect website (Or, if you’re more adventurous or technical, you built your own website from scratch). Then, the unexpected happens – you get hacked. Or, you decide to install a new plugin or ‘tweak’ and your site breaks and don’t know how to fix it. You’re basically screwed. All of your valuable time and hard earned money is gone in an instant. The worst part? Despite knowing better, you never thought this could happen to you, so you never created a backup. You curse yourself and wonder what the heck you’re going to do now.

The sad part is that this happens everyday on the internet. Data Loss is the probably the biggest nightmare any website owner can ever experience. The fact you can’t afford NOT to have a backup solution. There are simply too many ways that something can go wrong.

You Can Get Hacked;
Your Server Can Crash;
You Can Install a Faulty Plugin or Update;
You Can Make a Mistake and Break Something;

The list goes on an on! Don’t forget Murphy’s Law 😉

The good news is that you don’t ever have to worry about ever losing your Website Data again! UpdraftPlus, the WordPress backup solution I recommend in this guide, easily allows you to backup and restore your WordPress for free. It’s so easy to use that you can backup and restore your WordPress Site with only a few clicks! To ensure maximum protection, your backups should always be Automatic & Stored Offsite. It should also be tested regularly but i’ll cover that in another post. Amazon S3 is my preferred backup storage source because it’s free (up to 5 gigs) and it’s owned by Amazon. Seriously, their infrastructure is no joke.

How to Setup Automatic Backups in Three Easy Steps

1) Step One: Install the UpdraftPlus Plugin
The first step is to Install the UpdraftPlus WordPress Plugin. You can either download it here [http://wordpress.org/plugins/updraftplus/] or install it from the plugin installer page on your dashboard. Just type ‘UpdraftPlus’ and click on ‘Search Plugins’. Once it’s installed, activate it!

2) Step Two: Sign up for Amazon S3 & Create your Group, User & Bucket
You can Sign up for Amazon Web Services Account (5 Gigs Free) here [aws.amazon.com/s3/], if you don’t already have an Amazon.Com account; if you already have an account, just log in here.

Once your logged in, you’ll need to create a AWS User Group. A user group is simply a group of users that you can assign specific access and privileges to. So you have to create a User Group for your Website, and limit the groups access to only the S3 Bucket set up for your site. This adds an extra layer of security & limits the chances of a Hacker deleting your backup files! If your site gets hacked, you don’t want the hacker to have full access to your Amazon S3 account afterall; it would kinda defeat the purpose of this tutorial.

Here’s a blurb from Amazon:

‘Instead of defining permissions for individual IAM users, it’s usually more convenient to create groups that relate to job functions (Admins, Developers, Accounting, etc.), define the relevant permissions for each group, and then assign IAM users to those groups. All the users in an IAM group share the same permissions. That way, you can make changes for everyone in a group in just one place. As people move around in your company, you can simply change what IAM group their IAM user belongs to.’

‘Don’t use your AWS root account credentials to access AWS, and don’t give your credentials to anyone else. Instead, create individual users (using the IAM console, the APIs, or the command line interface) for anyone who needs access to your AWS account. Create an IAM user for yourself as well, give that IAM user administrative privileges, and use that IAM user for all your work.
By creating individual IAM users for people accessing your account, you can give each IAM user a unique set of security credentials. You can also grant different permissions to each IAM user. If necessary, you can change or revoke an IAM user’s permissions any time. (If you give out your AWS root credentials, it can be difficult to revoke them.)’

For this tutorial, created a group named ’MikeWayneDotCom’ and selected ‘Custom Policy’ to enter a restricted access policy. I then just pasted the recommended access policy from the UpdraftPlus Website and saved it. It’s that simple! Once your group is setup, you simply just need to create a new user account, and add it to your user group. I created a user named ’myuser’. Make sure you copy the access key and the secret location, you’ll need this information to connect your WordPress site to your Amazon S3 Account. Once you’ve created your user account all you have to do is add it to your group as shown below. I added the user account ‘myuser’ account to the ’MikeWayneDotCom’ user group.

The last step is simple, you just have to create your Bucket! You simply click on services in the top left hand corner of your screen and click on S3. Click on ‘Create Bucket’ create a bucket name and region, and your done on the Amazon Side! Wasn’t that easy?

I created a User Group named ‘WordPress’ and a user called ‘wpuser_mwdc’ within the group. This group can Click on ‘Services’ and then ‘S3’. Then you’ll create a ‘bucket’, which is basically a storage unit for your website data.

3) Step Three: Configure your Backup Settings
Setting up your backup settings couldn’t be easier than this! First, you’ll setup your file backup frequency, your database backup frequency. You can choose from Manual, 4 Hours, 8 Hours, 12 Hours, Daily, Weekly, Fortnightly, or Monthly.
What you choose depends on how often ou update your website. For the sale of this tutorial we are going to choose Daily Backups of the Files & Database. You’ll also want to make sure that Plugins, Themes & Uploads are all checked as well. Just leave the excluded files and directories intact as well (unless you need them backed up too).

If you choose, you can have UpdraftPlus Plugin email you every time a backup is completed. I like to leave this checked for peace of mind. The last step is choosing a remote storage source (Select Amazon S3) & then enter your user Access Key & Secret Key. Last but not least you’ll enter your S3 Bucket Name and then click on ‘Test S3 Settings’. Once you see the success message, click on ‘Save Changes’ and your Done! You now have a free, automatic daily backup setup for your WordPress website, and can sleep at night with a little more peace of mind:)

If you want to learn how to recover or restore your website, please check out this post.

About the Author Mike Wayne

Mike Wayne (me!) is a Serial Entrepreneur residing in New York City. I created this blog to provide tools, advice and tips to help Entrepreneurs understand the world of Online Business. I’m also the Founder & Lead Developer at MediaCraft Marketing, a New York Based Internet Marketing Firm that reeks of Awesomeness =)

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  • @seanthedesigner

    This article is great reference! I’m a huge fan of Updraft and need to explain why clients should use this too often. Now.. I can just link them here!