It was a simple request: “Please help me remove my staging site”. This resulted in cascading problems that almost had me losing this site completely. Don’t be like me: learn how to backup your WordPress site well and why it’s so important to do so.
You don’t want to go through the same blood pressure-raising panic that I went through.
It may not be enough even if you’re already “backing up” your blog or website.
In this post, I’ll share with you how you can prevent these panicky moments, and what you can do if your site is completely deleted.
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What Happened To Me
Before we go into all of the tips, I’ll share with you my backstory.
I had a staging site I was no longer using that I wanted removed. Unsure of how to do this, I reached out to customer support with my hosting provider.
They removed the staging site, but then the problems started.
My live site disappeared as well. It seems a file was connected between both.
They brought it back with a cache, but I couldn’t access the backend with WordPress. Something was corrupted.
Did I have an extra backup? Yes, with UpdraftPlus.
I uploaded all of the files, but something was missing: a .SQL file. They couldn’t import my database with the backup files that I had. It may have been that a file was missing when I did the last backup with UpdraftPlus.
Panic set in.
Was my site lost forever? I didn’t know for sure for a few hours.
The stress was setting in. All that work, potentially lost!
And then I made a rookie mistake (I blame it on the panic and lack of sleep).
My hosting provider emailed to say they reinstalled WordPress and asked me to take a look to see if the plugins and such looked correct.
There was a vague instruction about clearing the cache. Well, in my mind that was clearing the site cache with WPRocket.
I activated it in the temp site they sent over, and boom… the temporary version of my site was bumped to a temp site.
For almost a full day, all links to my site were giving a 404 error with this temporary site.
Imagine Edvard Munch’s The Scream. That was how I was feeling all day when this was going down.
A visual rendition of what I was looking and feeling like:
Luckily, my hosting provider had a solution: a backup on their servers from about a week before all of this went down. I gave them permission to attempt to use it to get my site back up.
I was extremely LUCKY… but the process made me painfully aware of the importance of backing up your blog VERY WELL.
How To Backup Your WordPress Site: Two Key Solutions
So what are your options to back up your WordPress site?
Since most of my readers are beginner bloggers or bloggers who aren’t tech-savvy, I’m going to keep it simple.
I’ll leave the more techy solutions to those who understand C-Panels and such to others.
Here’s what you can do to protect your content: use a diversified strategy.
When one way fails, at least you’ll have other options.
1. Invest In A Website Backup Service With Your Hosting Provider
Yes, it costs money. But think of it as insurance for when something goes wrong.
I used to have a backup service with my hosting provider, but somehow over the years, it was removed. Not getting around to adding it back on was my key mistake.
With a backup, the process of bringing back my site would have taken much less time and frustration.
If you’re running your blog as a business, adding a backup service to your hosting plan is a very smart investment.
2. Backup Your Blog With A Premium Backup Plugin
There are many great blogging tools that I recommend you use. I would still use UpdraftPlus to back up my content.
Just in case something goes wrong on the hosting provider’s end, it’s good to have a “backup- backup solution”.
However, to be on the safe side, I’d upgrade to the premium version.
The cost for 2 sites (good for most bloggers) is under USD $100 annually and gives you the peace of mind that you’re getting a full copy of your site and core WordPress settings.
Backups Are Insurance For Potential Errors
How To Backup Your Blog: The Worst Case Scenario
What happens when your backup solutions don’t work?
In most cases hosting providers have learned to keep several emergency backups on their servers, even if you haven’t signed up for a premium backup service.
So, you’ll go through a more arduous process like I did.
What do you do if there are no backups that work?
Your site is completely toast.
Well, you can curl up in a corner and cry for a day, drink a whole lot of wine, eat a tub of ice cream, and then get back to recreating it.
However, there are two ways you can make things easier to recreate your blog.
1. Backup Your Blog By Manually Copying Content
You can back up your blog manually and make copies of your text and images.
Here’s how you do it: save a copy of your written content in a Google Doc or with MS Word. This will save you hours of rewriting your content from scratch.
For your photos, use Google Drive, as well as your computer.
I’m also using an external hard drive just in case.
Here are a few other things to do to save time recreating things from scratch:
- Save your images for each post in organized folders, along with your written content
- Create a master list of all of your blog posts along with their URLs, so you can recreate them and avoid losing backlinks.
- Keep a list of your SEO keywords
These are extra steps but they will help you in case you delete a post or accidentally have your site nuked out of existence.
2. Use Wayback Machine To Recreate Your Blog
It may not offer you the most recent version of your blog, but Wayback Machine can certainly help.
It gives you an archived version of your site.
So you can copy and paste your content faster when you recreate your blog from scratch.
It’s not the most elegant way to do things, as you’ll still need to add your photos, but it’s one way to quickly add your content.
Working With A Great Hosting Provider: Worth The Pricetag
Since all of the crazy site stuff went on, I’ve since moved this site to a new hosting provider – NameHero.
The customer service has been great and super helpful in migrating the site (for free) and resolving a caching issue (most likely leftover from before).
What I like about NameHero is that there is a backup on all of their packages, not just the more expensive ones.
Is it costing me more? After this year’s initial discount, yes – a bit more.
But it is worth my peace of mind, knowing that my hosting provider has my back, and will be there if I need tech help with my site.
PRO TIP: Try to Google your problem to see if others have had similar situations happen. When you reach out to customer service, you’re going to feel less panicked and more capable of solving the problem with your hosting provider. Also in many cases, check to see if a faulty plugin is the culprit.
Now That You Know How To Backup Your Blog…
Which methods are you going to use to backup your blog?
I never like to see a blogger go through the heartache of having something go dreadfully wrong, like in my case.
Unless we’re coding wizards, we have only so much control over the “guts” of our content. Relying on others can be extremely tricky.
My final tips are this: invest in a great hosting provider (I’ve switched this site to NameHero) and get to know who are experts in migrations, setups and the technical SEO stuff so that you can hire them as needed.
I hope you don’t have to deal with the same panic I did!
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QUESTION: Have you ever had your blog go down completely? Share your story in the comments below and how you solved the problem.