How To Manually Backup A WordPress Website

Backup A WordPress WebsiteIf you have a self-hosted WordPress website, it is VERY important to regularly maintain your site! One of the best things you can do to protect your content and design and potentially prevent a huge headache in the case that something goes wrong is to learn how to manually backup a WordPress website.

The process makes it easier to revert your WordPress site to an old version in case of a malware attack or a hosting problem.

DISCLAIMER: This is a basic tutorial of how to manually backup a WordPress website and theme.  Incorrect or accidental changes to your hosting account can cause your site to malfunction. Please move forward carefully if you choose to follow these steps on your own. If you are not tech-savvy or had a custom WP theme developed by a web developer, have a web professional assist you.

MANUALLY Backup a WordPress Website

If you have a typical WP installation and theme, backing up is a relatively simple process. This process should be done when you first start your website but also regularly before you update the WordPress software.

Before you begin, you will need your hosting account username and password.

1. Create a FOLDER For Your Backup On Your Computer or Dropbox.

Select a location where you will be backing up your website files and database. I always create a folder and label it with the date and the name of the site I am backing up. I use Dropbox these days because my computer has limited space and it ensures that if I switch to a new computer, I can still easily access it. It doesn’t hurt to have the backups located in multiple locations, especially if your WordPress site is an important part of your business.

2. USE WORDPRESS DASHBOARD TO EXPORT an XML backup of your posts.

WordPress has a convenient built in feature to export your posts to an XML File. This is a quick way to backup and restore your WordPress posts, but it only saves your posts, pages, comments, custom fields, categories, and tags.. Plugin settings, images and media are not saved when you do this quick export.  I like to do this just to have in case I need to restore my site quickly to an older version.

In your WordPress dashboard, click “Tools”, then Click “Export”

WordPress Export Feature Step 1 and 2

Choose the Content You’d Like to Backup

WordPress Export Feature Step 3

Click “Download Export File” and save the WordPress Export file (it will be an XML file) to your backup folder

WordPress Export Feature Step 4 Save XML file

3. Backup the wp-content Folder

The “wp-content” folder on your web host is where all of your theme files, images, and plugins should be located (this can vary, so if you had a web developer create your website, double check with them to make sure you’re not missing any important files. Sometimes on older WordPress sites, I  have placed files in other folders when I have done extensive SEO on a website, for example.

For this step, you will need to use a FTP program. I like FileZilla these days, but there are many others out there. If you do not know how to use FTP, this is a step you should have a professional do for you.

  1. Login to your website via FTP
  2. Navigate to your backup location on the local side
  3. Download the “wp-content” folder and all of its sub folders to your backup location


(Click the image to enlarge this step)

4. Backup your WordPress database

There are a number of ways to backup a WordPress mySQL database. This is the way that I do it MOST of the time. It will vary based upon your website hosting situation.

Login to your mySQL database via phpMyAdmin. Most hosts have phpMyAdmin installed inside the cPanel – if not, it is not incredibly difficult to install yourself.

Select the Correct Database


Within the phpMyAdmin site, make sure that the database you have selected is the one you are trying to back up. Sometimes (like my setup), multiple databases will be shown within phpMyAdmin.

Click “Export”


Export An SQL File

Depending on what version of phpMyAdmin is installed on your server, the view may vary. The newer versions show “quick” or “custom” as an option. “Quick” is usually a good choice – unless your database is very large, in which case, selecting “custom” may be a better way to backup. Then you can backup only the essentials. I almost always use SQL as the file type I am exporting, because that is the easiest to import when you are restoring later on.

Save Your WordPress database SQL file to your backup folder


And that’s it! You have backed up the current version of your WordPress website!



Want to learn more about how to properly back up a WordPress website?
Go to’s official page on this subject.

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