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How to Backup Your WordPress Website Manually? (No Plugin)

It goes without saying: your WordPress site needs regular backup. You probably already have a plugin doing this, which is good. But you should know how to do a WordPress backup on your own, without a plugin.

Think of this as learning a WordPress life skill. You know essential skills like how to cook, swim, and do laundry, right? Knowing how to backup your WordPress site is an essential skill to have when you own or manage a website.

Your Site Host cPanel Offers Easy Manual WordPress Backup

Your site host almost certainly provides daily backups. Don’t rely on this too much — and we say this as site hosts who do daily automated backups! But in fact, we encourage our customers to learn manual WordPress backup because it’s a smart thing to do.

Let’s say you’re working on your site and it freezes. (This is one reason why we perform daily checks for updates — old plugins are often the cause for site freezes.) If you’re a Sunny HQ customer, you already know we have daily backups. But if you’ve just spent a couple of hours adding new content, you can’t assume we’ve done the backup since those changes were made. Luckily, even if your site has frozen, you can still make a backup. Here’s the easy way to do this manually with any host:

  1. Log in to your host account (you did make one, right?)
  2. Go to your cPanel, which lists all the tools available for your website.
  3. Look for a tab or section labeled something like Backup Manager
  4. Click on the backup tool to make a backup; be sure to choose Compress Files
  5. Download the files to your computer.
  6. Copy them to a couple of places like a memory stick or cloud storage

Depending on the plan you’ve purchased, you may be able to make one or several manual backups or pay a fee for the complete backup, which includes much more data than a server backup, which is what many hosts do (ours, however, are complete backups of your entire website). It’s certainly worth doing this if you are working on major changes on your website.

If you have a small site you can get away with a single zipped file for backup. But if your site is a large one (and especially if it has lots of media), divide it into segments. If you’re making changes to one area, just backup the relevant files to that segment rather than the entire website and database.

You can restore the files using the cPanel as well. Upload the files and follow directions to extract them. They will overwrite the old files in there. Many cPanels have backup wizards or other step-by-step instructions to make this process a pretty smooth one.

WordPress Backup Using FTP

FTP, or file transfer protocol, is another way to manually backup WordPress. FTP users tend to be a bit more technically skilled.

Free FTP services include CyberDuck and WinSCP. Some work better with Macs and Windows. And there may be an FTP account already set up in your cPanel.

FTP uses your WordPress admin credentials to upload files into a WordPress directory it creates. It defaults to port 21 for the initial contact. You can also choose port 22, which encrypts all the data, including passwords.

You can even work on your WordPress files in the FTP tool if, for some reason, you can’t access your WordPress backend, and download those files to your website.

Don’t be afraid of trying a manual backup. WordPress can do a lot, but it can’t swim or do its own laundry! Curious to find out more? Visit our blog, today!

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