How to save a WordPress site locally?

Backing up your website is not something to neglect. Having a backup of your WordPress site can avoid you many headaches in many situations. For example, if you encounter an error that breaks your site or if an update affects its functionality, you will be able to go back to the saved version.

Try the free demo Restoring a WordPress backup can save you hours of troubleshooting. Plus, having one means you can duplicate your site or move it to a new host. We would even say that if you don’t have a recent backup, you should add it at the top of your to-do list.

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In this article we will show you exactly how to do it. We will discuss which parts of your website you need to back up and show you four ways to do so, including the manual approach, the use of extensions, through your hosting provider and on a local site. Let’s get to work!

Introduction to WordPress Site Backups

A WordPress site is more than just a collection of files that you can copy and paste from one place to another. If you are wondering “What files do I need to copy to do a WordPress site backup? , be aware that your question has a two-part answer:

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  1. All files that are in the root directory of WordPress.
  2. Your WordPress Database

The WordPress root directory is the folder in which you configure the copy of WordPress that propels your website. You need to access this directory by connecting to your server via File Transfer Protocol (FTP) or Secure Shell Access (SSH) and then finding the folder called root, public, or public_html .

In some cases, the directory may also have the name of your website:

Go to the root directory of your WordPress site.

This root directory contains everything from your themes to your extensions to your media files. Some of these files include rules for interaction between your site and its server, the new features you added to themes and extensions, and so

on. In short, this directory contains all the files that make WordPress work. However, the content of your website resides in a single database. Each table you see below stores data from a WordPress site:

A WordPress database and its tables.

Backing up your database involves Exporting all these tables (usually in SQL format). You then import the contents of this file, and your database software will overwrite the existing values.

If it does not make much sense yet, do not worry. We will show you how to manually save a WordPress site in one of the following sections. If you don’t like the idea of touching your database or copying files manually, use WordPress site backup extensions.

In essence, WordPress backup extensions create copies of the files of your site and its database (together or separately). These extensions then allow you to choose which backup files to “restore”. This means overwriting your existing files and database tables with those of backup files.

If you use a reputable host, it probably also offers automatic backups of the site. This feature means you don’t have to worry about creating backups manually or using extensions since your host will do it for you. It should also store these backups for a while in case you need them.

Having a backup of your WordPress site can save you time and avoid headaches afterwards 🤯… but how to start? This guide is here to help you ✅ Click to Tweet When to back up your WordPress site

The short answer is that you should always have a recent backup of your website. Imagine that you are encountering today an error that breaks your site without knowing how to fix it.

If your backup is a day or less, everything will probably be fine. However, if it is a week ago, it may not include some of the most recent updates of your website. If it is more than one month old, it may not contain the essential changes you have made in the meantime.

Ask yourself how much recent data you think you can lose without having a negative impact on your website. If you are managing a static site, occasional backups should be enough. On the other hand, for forums, online stores, blogs and most large sites, regular backups are essential:

A list of recent backups of the website.

If you buy a web hosting service, you will notice that many of them include daily backups as an important selling point. If you opt for managed WordPress hosting, you should receive daily backups at a minimum.

It may seem exaggerated, but if it saves you from losing critical data, if only once, it is certainly worth the extra price — which is generally negligible. Many WordPress extensions also allow you to schedule backups, which can be convenient if you use cost-effective shared hosting that does not include the backup feature in the contract.

This brings us to the major disadvantage of manual backup of WordPress: you can not automate the process. For something as critical, we recommend a simplified approach that minimizes the risk of someone forgetting to make a backup or even missing a few files by mistake.

A final caveat: You must always back up your entire site before making significant changes, moving it to a new host, or changing the domain of your site. If you have ever wondered “How do I save my WordPress site before an update? read the following sections to find the best method for you.

How to save a WordPress site (4 methods)

Now that we’ve touched on the importance of saving your site, it’s time to find out how to do it. Let’s see how you can save a WordPress site using four methods.

1. How to manually back up a WordPress site

As we mentioned earlier, backing up a WordPress site involves copying all its files and exporting the contents of its database. You can perform the first of these two tasks using a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) client such as FileZilla.

Your hosting provider should provide you with a set of credentials that you can use to connect to your website via FTP, or SFTP in our case

: A set of FTP credentials.

Using these credentials, you will be able to connect to your server and find the WordPress root directory. In many cases, this directory is called public . To get started, go ahead and copy or download the entire folder:

Download the WordPress root directory.

Downloading may take some time, as most WordPress sites include hundreds or thousands of files. After the backup is complete, we recommend that you rename this folder on the date of the backup and then store it in a safe place. This allows you to keep your entire WordPress site (including all media) on your PC or in a storage solution in the cloud.

This answers the question “How do I back up my WordPress site with FTP? — which leaves us with your database. The easiest way to back up this item is to go to the control panel of your hosting and search for your database management software.

If you are using Kinsta, you can access your database by logging in to your hosting account dashboard (myKinsta if you are a Kinsta user), selecting a website and going to the Info tab:

The “Info” tab of the MyKinsta dashboard.

When you click on the option called Open phpMyAdmin , the database manager is launched. Select your site database from the menu on the left, and you should see a list of tables like this

: The tables of the WordPress database in phpMyAdmin.

Then select Export from the menu at the top of the screen. phpMyAdmin will ask you what export method you want to use. The Quick option will automatically include all the tables in your site in a SQL file, which is what we want.

Be sure to select SQL under Format, and then click Go :

Exporting tables from your website from phpMyAdmin.

Your database file should be downloaded immediately. Here, it’s done!

At this point, you have both your WordPress root directory and a copy of its database. You can compress together the site directory and the database SQL file and Keep them for a rainy day.

Restoring your manual backup

If you need to restore your manual backup, the best way to do this is to upload the backup root folder to your server (at the same level as the current folder) with a different name. Once the directory is in place, you can delete your current root folder and rename the backup to its original value.

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After that, it’s time to restore the backup of your database. To do this, go back to phpMyAdmin and find the database of your site. This time, select the Import Subscribe option at the top of the screen.

phpMyAdmin will ask you to select a file to import and specify its format:

Importing a database file via phpMyAdmin.

Select the database backup file you want to import and click Go at the bottom of the screen. Once the import process is complete, you will see a success message.

At this point, if you browse your website, your backup will have replaced its most recent version. If you have restored a backup to fix a problem on your website, it should now work properly.

2. How to use a WordPress backup extension

It there is a large number of WordPress backup extensions that you can use. However, we can divide them into two broad categories:

  1. Full Site Backup Extensions : This type of extensions generates full copies of your website and backs up them for rainy days.
  2. Incremental Backup Extensions: This extension family only generates backups when you make changes to your website, avoiding unnecessary storage on the server.

Another difference between these two types of extensions is that incremental backup tools tend to be expensive. On the other hand, there are a large number of free full site backup tools that you can use.

If you are interested in incremental backup extensions, we have proposed a turn of our favorite options in a previous blog post. In this section we will show you how to use one of the most popular free solutions, UpdraftPlus:

UpDraftPlus extension.

Most WordPress backup extensions work similarly, which means that if you know how to use one of them, you should be able to find your way into other tools of the same type. UpdraftPlus is no exception, and you can use it to create full backups of your site in minutes.

To get started, install and activate the extension, then go to Settings > UpdraftPlus Backups in your WordPress dashboard. Then click the Save Now button:

Create a backup of the site WordPress using UpdraftPlus.

As you can see, UpDraftPlus also offers incremental backups. However, this feature is only available for the premium version of the extension, so we will ignore it for this tutorial.

Once you click on the button, UpDraftPlus will ask you which parts of your website you want to include in your backup. By default, these are the files in your site and its database:

Choose the items to include in your WordPress backup.

Click the confirmation button at the bottom of the window, and wait for the extension to generate your backup file. Now, if you scroll down to the Existing Backups section, you will see your most recent backups (there should be only one now):

A list of existing backups of your WordPress site.

UpDraftPlus allows you to separately download all the components of your backup file, such as its extensions, themes, uploaded files, and even databases. You can also delete the backups or restore them by clicking on the corresponding buttons.

Restoring your UpDraftPlus Backup

Restoring a backup of UpDraftPlus is a simple matter. The extension will ask you which components you want to restore, and you will need to select them all:

Restoring a WordPress Backup of UpDraftPlus.

You will need to confirm that you want to restore the backup. Once you do so, the extension will take care of the rest. Once the process is complete, your site will return to its version previous.

That is, in a few words, how most WordPress backup extensions work. However, a missing feature in most free tools is scheduling backups of the WordPress site, where the following method comes into play.

3. How to back up your WordPress site via your hosting provider?

If you use a reputable host, it should offer you automatic backups. However, the frequency of these backups may vary. For example, at Kinsta we provide daily or even hourly automatic backups, which you can access by logging in to your hosting dashboard.

However, this is not the only type of backup we offer. In the following sections, we’ll show you how to access your automatic backups and how to use DevKinsta to create local copies of your website.

If you are not a Kinsta user, we recommend that you inquire with your host about your backup options. It can manage the process for you or tell you how to do it manually.

How do I access Kinsta’s automatic backups and create new ones?

The first thing you need to do is log in to your MyKinsta dashboard. To see an overview of your existing backups, select your site and go to the Backups tab:

A global view of MyKinsta backups.

Kinsta stores automatic backups for two weeks (30 days for Kinsta Agency Partner Program customers). In addition, we allow you to restore backups in your production environment or in your staging environment. The latter feature can be useful if you want to test changes to previous versions of your website.

We also offer you the ability to generate backups on demand by going to the Manual tab and selecting the Save Now option:

Create a manual backup using Kinsta.

You can create up to five manual backups, which the system will keep up to 14 days. This is a valuable feature that you can use just before making important updates to your website.

4. How to Locally Backup a WordPress Site Using DevKinsta

DevKinsta is a free local WordPress development tool that anyone can use. It’s perfect if you want to test new projects locally, work on developing extensions or themes, and more again.

If you are a Kinsta user, you can log in DevKinsta to your hosting account and use it to save your WordPress sites to local hosting. To do this, open DevKinsta and select the Import from Kinsta option under Create a new site :

Importing a Kinsta website to a local host using DevKinsta.

If you haven’t done so yet, DevKinsta will ask you to check your hosting information. Once you do so, you will see a list of all your existing Kinsta websites, including staging environments:

Select the Kinsta website to import.

Select a website and DevKinsta will take care of the rest. The import process may take some time, depending on the size of the site. However, a Once the backup process is complete, the copy will act as a local backup.

If you want to restore the backup, you can use DevKinsta’s push to staging feature. Once the backup is in a staging environment on Kinsta servers, you can move it to production.

If you do not have a recent backup of your WordPress site, this is the sign that you have to add it to the top of your list of things to do as soon as possible. 👀 Click to Tweet Summary

Learning to save a WordPress site is easier than you imagine. You can do this manually, use extensions, or even let your host take care of the whole process.

The easiest and safest approach to backups of WordPress sites is to use a hosting provider that automates them. At Kinsta, we offer backups Automated WordPress daily with each plan. If that’s not enough, you can create manual backups at will or use DevKinsta to set up local copies of your website.

Do you have questions about how to save your WordPress website? We’ll review them in the comments section below!