I made a huge mistake last week – I accidentally deleted this blog completely!
Ironically enough, I did so because I was testing a new backup plugin. I guess you could say that I involuntarily conducted quite a realistic field test. And I am happy to report that the plugin, called BackupBuddy, was able to save the day.
I thought I share what the experience taught me as well as a short review of the BackupBuddy plugin.
My D’OH moment
What the… had I entered the wrong URL or something?
No, I was definitely in the right place – but my blog wasn’t there.
I started up my FTP program and found that the folder holding my blog was indeed empty. It then dawned on me – I had deleted all of this myself a few days earlier.
You see, I had been experimenting with a new WordPress backup and migration plugin, making a copy of the entire site in another location (same server).
I had spent an entire evening experimenting with various themes and whatnot on my copied site, and afterwards I deleted the whole thing – database, folders and everything. But apparently I must have been very tired or something…
Because, several days later, I discovered that what I had deleted was my actual, live and public blog. I felt like smacking my forehead like Homer Simpson!
My heart sank rapidly and for a moment and I feared that I would have to setup everything from scratch. I always write my posts offline in Open Office, so those where intact. But what about the rest of it?
Fortunately enough, my new backup plugin really came through for me and I was able to restore literally everything in about five minutes. I didn’t even have to manually re-install any of the plugins.
Since I had tested it earlier I basically knew that already. But it was still nice to see that it worked like a charm in a real “oops – I lost everything” scenario as well.
BackupBuddy – More Than a Simple Database Backup
Of course, there are several free backup plugins that you can install on WordPress. For basic backup of your posts and comments those are usually good enough.
The commercial BackupBuddy plugin goes a step further though, and allows you to easily clone your entire WordPress site, so that it can be restored – in the same place or on another server. You simply upload a zip-file and a small script to where you want to restore your site, and then go through a guided six step installation procedure.
The only thing you have to do manually is to create a new MySQL database first. In my case this was actually a good thing, as it gave me an easy way to finally getting around to changing my database prefix to something other than “wp_” – an important security aspect for any WordPress installation.
I hadn’t been able to change this automatically with the WP Security Scan plugin, because the user name for the database didn’t have the right credentials to do so. And changing the prefix manually seems rather advanced.
So if you’re in the same situation, BackupBuddy may actually be the easiest way to get around this as well. Just test it out in another location before you actually delete your main blog though…
Other useful scenarios
Besides safety backups, the more advanced migration functions can be really useful if you want to:
- Transfer you site to a different hosting account
- Want to clone a basic WordPress setup you use often
- Sell your site
- Develop sites for customers and then transfer them to their hosting
- Anything else where you need a carbon copy of an entire WP site
Since I have setup quite a few WordPress based niche sites in my days, I know what a drag it can be to have to set everything up (permalinks, plugins, settings etc.) each and every time. Even using Fantastico or Simplescripts, these steps will require a significant amount of your time to setup.
I have looked at a few different WordPress cloning applications for this purpose, but I have always found them somewhat unreliable, rather expensive and complicated.
BackupBuddy on the other hand is very easy to use, and in my experience it has worked very well so far. The only problem I have encountered when cloning a site to a different server was that a couple of plugins had to be re-installed in order to work properly.
That said, on the support forum I have read about various other issues when migrating between different server setups. Most problems are eventually solved, but as Ithemes doesn’t offer a money back guarantee you may want to ask before buying – if you have some particular technical concerns.
Here is a list of all the features currently in BackupBuddy
Backup your entire WordPress install – including the widgets, themes, plugins AND SQL database … the entire package.
Restore your WordPress site fast — the restore function within BackupBuddy is a simple restoration process where you upload a script and your backup files and it restores WordPress, your themes, widgets, plugins, and everything else.
Migrate a WordPress site to another domain or server easily.
Backup Scheduling – do daily, weekly, bi-monthly, monthly backups. Automatically email or FTP the backup to your desired location. You can also transfer directly to an Amazon S3 account.
Automatic Plugin Upgrades in WP Dashboard
A personal, one year licence of BackupBuddy costs $45 which I think is a fair price. This licence grants automatic updates of the plugin and support for only two domains, but you can still manually install the plugin on as many sites as you want (and upgrade to the latest version manually). Obviously you should also check that your hostin meets the server requirements of the plugin (listed on the BackupBuddy home page).
If you use WordPress, and especially if you run multiple sites, BackupBuddy is definitely a recommended purchase. It can save you a lot of time when setting up a new site and you can rest assured that ALL aspects of your site can be restored at a moments notice.