I review different WordPress backup plugins and the many nuances I noticed about each one. There are numerous features to consider and many ways to go about it. I go over several options explaining why I like (or don’t like) each one.
The bottom line:
- If you need a reliable no-fuss, most reliable hassle-free backup….choose BackWPup
- If you plan to restore or do migrations…choose WPvivid.
- Both are great.
- Yes, I feel this way forever (2022, 2032, 3032) unless something changes my mind.
1. BackWPup – WordPress Backup Plugin (FREE & PAID)
My NEW favorite backup plugin! The free version can do FULL BACK-UPS (with scheduling options), and also remote-backup to S3. HELL YES! I can see why it’s popular as hell.
Many features in the free version (even things I didn’t think about). Super clean space-efficient UI (no annoying advertisements like UpDraft). Simple progress bar and helpful notes about the backup progress. No over-technical cryptic status messages or ambiguous spinning icons that make you wonder if it’s actually working. These guys are going to heaven!
- I like that the free version also has offsite S3 backup capability.
- Has options to slow the backup process so larger sites don’t completely lag your server.
- Also generates XML list of plugins and content.
- Complete feature comparisons with other popular backup plugins.
- TIP: put the name of your site in the archive name, you’ll thank me later.
- The ONLY thing this plugin doesn’t have is a simple restore feature (you have to pay for it). It doesn’t bother me since I can do manual restores just as easily anyway.
2. WPvivid Backup Plugin
We have a new player in the house. I haven’t tried every feature yet but it looks promising. Tons of pro features all for FREE. It backup and restore locally, remote backups, site cloning. Incredible stuff. I just tried it and I love it. It has even more features in its free version than BackWPup. The main one is that it can do restores, and can also do migrations. It intelligently detects if you’re doing a site restore or s)te migration (even rewriting URLs).
The only reason I can’t give it the #1 spot is because A) I haven’t tested it long enough yet, and B) I found some instances where it didn’t backup and didn’t tell me why. Don’t get me wrong, it was an 8GB super complicated test site.
- Full backup features – granular options, scheduling, backup remotely. It can also do split-archive with custom sizing, useful when your server has storage or processing limits that won’t let you generate huge archives.
- Full restore features – I LOVE THIS! Can restore from local, FTP, remote.
- Migrations – it can also do migrations! Very easy as you simply install it on both sites and it’ll transfer over. And it’ll also rewrite URL strings for you!
- Also useful when webhosts block other backup plugins but not this one.
Check out WPvivid Backup Plugin
3. UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin (FREE & PAID)
I absolutely hate their free version (clunky UI and limitations), but am fully aware and respect many developers who swear by Updraft and trash BackupWordPress for “just doesn’t work, keeps spinning forever”. Many people seem to like and recommend it but it’s not for me. Updraft however is definitely the best paid plugin. Get it if you need to backup to offsite location (S3, Google Drive, DropBox, etc).
Honestly, I don’t recommend this plugin considering there are free ones out there with a cleaner interface and more features. Their free version is too neutered for me!
- FREE version can backup off-site – I like it if you want a free version that backs up offsite, just beware that it can’t back up non-WP directories though!
- Many options – has all the premium options like scheduling and exclusions and what not.
- Granular backups – great if you like to back things up in bits and pieces. But horrible for if you just want a simple ‘back everything up’ option.
- Can’t back-up entire root directory – not unless you pay for premium (so it misses my secret directories or files that I or clients may have placed in unconventional locations).
- Annoying GUI – that isn’t as easy to use as BWP in my opinion.
- Feels bloated – feels bloated to me.
- Spammy advertisements – nags me to pay for premium.
- Messy uninstall – leaves orphan data in database when you uninstall it (probably trying to preserve settings, etc).
- PREMIUM is good – the paid version can do many things and works well. I have to give them that. Very reliable.
4. BackupWordPress (FREE)
My old favorite and easy to use! I feel BackupWordPress can be finicky especially on shared hosts where it sometimes runs out of memory but when it works, it works great.
This one can be really helpful for backing up big sites, since it allows you to choose specific directories to backup and exclude.
- Clean interface – easy to use. Very clean and simple to understand.
- Back up database or entire directory – hooray! It can backup the entire directory and site!
- Scheduled back-ups – daily, weekly, monthly, whatever you want.
- Easy Excludes – choose what you DON’T want to back-up, such as huge directories, etc.
- Premium extension – I love that it works well with the free version and if you want extra features like backing up off-site, etc…you can buy the premium version. (UPDATE: so sad, they are no longer selling it!)
I absolutely hate it. Annoying screens and advertisements all over your dashboard. Lots of colors and unorganized design.
- Somewhat functional – yes, it works and it’s easy to use although I have had some clients say it was unreliable.
- Annoying UI – annoying interface that makes it appear bloated.
- Autoloads – I saw a site with 1MB in autoloads from this plugin. BAD!!!
6. WP Time Capsule
Sometimes you’re not actually wanting a long-term backup solution, but just a short-term one so you can reverse changes when something goes wrong. This is an awesome plugin that let’s you go back and forth. It’s a great “snapshot” backup plugin that lets you restore from an earlier time. Great for quick backups and restoring things when updates go wrong. Incredibly clever!
What about the others?
Etc and etc and etc. I haven’t tried them much.
Looking for WP migration plugins?
- Check out my WordPress Migration Plugins Review
Thank you for the article.
You recommend the plugin BackupWordPress. But he can’t backup to the cloud? For example, into dropbox.
All backups will be stored on the hosting?
Updraft Plus is able to save backups on a cloud (I save to Dropbox). I think it is very convenient.
Yes, unfortunately BackupWordPress was recently passed onto new ownership which no longer supports their paid plugin. You will need to use UpDraft Premium to backup to remote storage. It works well! https://updraftplus.com/backupwordpress/?afref=631
I’ve been a longtime fan of Updraft but gave BackWPup at try because of your recommendation. While it looks great and has all the features I could dream of, it unfortunately requires Pro to simply restore. That’s kind of a game killer for me.
Updraft does suffer a lot of those faults you describe but I continue using it because it includes free restore, backs up to remote storage (Premium actually isn’t required) and most of all, it just works.
Anyway, thanks for all your great articles here. You can learn a ton!
Hi Damon. I can see why the simple 1-click restore is worth that much to you…I think paying for it is worth it in that case. But if not, you could simply just unpack the zipped archive onto the server and reimport that database. That’s just 2 steps and won’t take long at all. Free Updraft is ok if you don’t need it to backup non-core directories. Either way, I’m happy you tried it and still found the best plugin for you (even if it’s the same old one). Thanks for writing and cheers!
Hey Johnny, I wanted to follow-up and say you converted me! While I still like a lot about Updraft (free), I grew tired of it missing files in the root. Giving BackWPup a second try, I’m a fan. I shouldn’t have doubted you 🙂
And for anyone who needs to restore, they have some easy instructions here: https://backwpup.com/docs/how-to-restore-a-wordpress-backup/
Happy for you, Damon! I know how it feels. You have a favorite plugin and familiar workflow already and then along comes something that makes you rethink things.
Have you tried out WPVivid Backup at all. Their free service (they don’t have a premium one yet) seems pretty complete and includes remote backups to Google Drive and Onedrive, as well as S3, Dropbox, etc.
You might like to take a look if you haven’t.
Oh wow. Free restores! Thanks for sharing this!
great plugin. the only thing missing, at least from what I see *I might be wrong – are incremental backups. I looked at their Pro version and no mention of that there either. I think this is the secret of keeping backups for a longer period of time. Even if it’s a small website 1gb let says, 30 days retention that 30GB.
No they don’t do incremental, but… if I compare the price of storage to the price of paid plans with the other backup plugins that do offer incremental backups, then the extra storage comes out cheaper every time.
I personally don’t like to do incremental backups. Too much reliance on multiple backups to work, for my taste. Also…I feel it’s not as easy to compare differences from one moment to another.
I’ve used several backup plugins over the years and really like WPTC because its incremental backp method makes a heavy task very light and quick. My storage requirements have gone way down and there is absolutely no burden on the site/host during the backup process because WPTC is only backing up new files or changed files since the last time it did a sweep.
As you allude to, the restore function is great. I had a client the other day who messed up a page badly, I told WPTC to restore to the day before and 5 mins later the site was transported back to 2 days ago.
The only issue I have with WPTC is that the restore to new host is complicated (read: I haven’t gotten it to work yet). All In One is still my tool of choice for that kind of move, but I’d prefer to use WPTC for this. Also, for a premium product their support is too slow. up to 2 days waiting for a response.
I’m not sure what you mean about it being a short term solution. That’s not the intention of this product. In the comment to Alex you say you don’t like the instability of incremental backups because they place too much reliance on multiple backups. I’m not really sure of the method WPTC use but I wouldn’t be using the product if I thought it was a temporary solution. What facts do you have to back up this statement?
Thank you as always for your polarising view points.
I do like WP Time Capsule and my comment about it being a “short-term” solution is not that you can’t use it for a long time…but more that I don’t recommend it as a longterm backup for various reasons. Suppose you got hacked or accidentally broke your own site on Aug 5th, but didn’t notice any broken functionality until October 5th. So what do you do? You’d restore backups going further and further back until you find one that works, and then try to compare the changes to see what changed. Other times maybe, you just want to restore some old images or files that you realized were deleted in recent backups (so you need an older one), obviously…incremental backups don’t keep track of deleted files.
When doing this kind of version-comparisons, it’s really messy when using incremental backups. It’d be so much easier if you could download full backup packages of each date and then extract and compare side-by-side. With that said, incremental backups might actually make the task easier because you could more easily see exactly which files were changed and when. But again…I do believe the process is more muddied when you want a clear comparison and know exactly what you’re looking for already. Does this make more sense?
This is Tony from WPvivid team. Thank you so much for featuring WPvivid Backup Plugin in this excellent post!
We are happy to hear that you guys like it. Enjoy the plugin!
Any update Johnny on using WPvivid?
What update do you need? It’s my 2nd choice here.
sorry I meant your latest views about it as you stated “The only reason I can’t give it the #1 spot is because A) I haven’t tested it long enough yet”
Ahh yes, I still feel the same about it. It does have some advantages over other plugins in that it creates smaller archives and can do site-to-site migrations. But the main function which is to backup….can fail more often on big sites than compared to BackWPup. I put it in the #2 position and BackWPup is still my favorite. Regardless, WP Vivid is still useful when webhosts block other backup plugins but not that one.
I have been using ManageWP backups for years but I would love to hear what you think of it. I always assumed it would be more reliable than traditional backup plugins for some reason but I’m not sure. Would you recommend switching from ManageWP to BackWPup?
You’re not the only one to like ManageWP especially since it has many functions, not only backups. But for sure I love BackWPup’s features. Try the free version and see for yourself.
Hello again, thanks for the informative content.
I’ve tried BackWPup based on your recommendation and it’s awesome. coming from Wpvivid, I find it great because it can create multiple jobs. but a downside that I have found is it can’t upload to S3 when I activate object lock to prevent a potential hacker accessing my dashboard from deleting my remote backups from the plugin settings. Wpvivid can, but again it can do one scheduled job. I am aware of the password protection for the plugin settings but it’s a paid service. Is my concern about the deletion of my backup legit or not ?
I wouldn’t be that concerned if I were you. You can always secure it in other ways.