Today I’ll show you free WordPress Backup plugins such as UpdraftPlus, WPvivid, xCloner – and explain the difference to the paid premium versions.
We should, first of all, secure our website against attacks from outside.
But in addition to all the protection, we should regularly download the complete WordPress installation, including the database.
Why? Should something go wrong, i.e., we are hacked even though we have secured our site because our hoster may have been hacked – or there is a technical error with our hoster, then we need a copy of our work. Otherwise, we will not only lose hours but weeks or months of our work
Let’s start with the WordPress Backup Plugin for free.
Okay, what kind of free plugins are there to create an automated backup?
What are the most popular free WordPress plugins? We look at UpdraftPlus with over 3 million users, also WPVivid, xCloner as an open-source variant, BackupGuard, and BackWPup.
UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin
Anyone looking for “WordPress Backup Plugin for free” in the WordPress Directory will find possibly the most popular backup plugin in the top 5: UpdraftPlus.
This plugin runs on over 3 million installations – and all users are satisfied. Why? Because I think it’s the best backup plugin out there for free.
First things first: the plugin works. Most plugins advertise great functions but fail in practice. Either backup only works for tiny websites or restoring data isn’t going smoothly.
With plugins like UpdraftPlus or WPVivid (more on that in a moment), you have a reliable partner by your side.
The great thing is that you can save the backup locally and save it on external targets. This is important because it generally makes little sense to store all data and all backups in the same place.
So with the free version, you can make a good stretch of the way. What is better about the premium version?
In short: we can plan the order of the backups. We can specify other storage locations for the backups, for example, SFTP. We can set a remote storage option. We have security encryption. We get reporting and monitoring of our backups. There is also a migration function, i.e., we can transfer a page to another website. The whole thing works not only with a single website but also with a multisite.
That all sounds good … BUT … these functions are only available with UpdraftPlus Premium, the paid version. The main reason for the Pro version is certainly the incremental backup.
What is an incremental backup?
This means that we save the complete backup once, and then we only need to back up the data that has changed. And of course, that saves a lot of storage space and relieves the server’s resources.
I have around 3.8 gigabytes of data on my website. Of this, 500 megabytes are the database, and the rest, i.e., three and a half gigabytes, are mainly images. With all this data, nothing usually changes. When I create new blog posts, a new picture is added.
So it makes no sense to shovel 3.5 gigabytes over the network and secure it every day when the bottom line is perhaps a hundred kb.
This function is an important reason for me, actually, the main reason you should use a premium plugin.
Because this function is unfortunately not available with most free plugins, the second argument is the websites’ migration function. This is also only available in a premium version. If I have a website and want to copy it to another server, this is only possible with the premium version.
The same applies to back up external data. If I have a tool running “outside of WordPress” on my website, I can still back up this data simultaneously.
If you want to or can do without these things – and just want to secure your website once, you won’t go wrong with UpdraftPlus.
WordPress backup migration
An alternative would be, for example, the WordPress Backup Migration Plugin. This is also very popular here. In principle, you get exactly the same functions.
The free version already has a lot to offer. Of course, the data on the server and the database are also backed up here.
You can also select specific folders and even database tables that you want to back up. This is very useful as you don’t always have to back up “everything.”
The finished backup can be downloaded and thus also saved locally. And you can also store a backup in your Dropbox.
Of course, there is also a pro version. Here we can completely mirror a website, which is very useful when moving a server. During the data migration, all paths are set again, so that you can actually start copying the website immediately.
In addition, we can now also link G Drive, Amazon S3, One Drive, and SFTP / FTP. It is also interesting that we can edit the backup mode, i.e., focus on the website’s smooth operation and downgrade the backup priority.
In my opinion, these settings are not as extensive as with WP Vivid, but better than nothing.
Then there is BackWPup. This is also very popular. Unfortunately, I myself had a problem with that. I was able to create a backup, but due to my files’ size, I couldn’t import the backup anymore – and that was, of course, super annoying. So I have mixed feelings about it.
I really like that the free version already contains a whole range of premium functions. In addition to the classic backup of the WordPress installation and database, we can save the backup locally and in the Dropbox – BUT we can also save a copy here on Amazon S3, MS Azure, RackSpace, SugarSync.
On the less attractive list is that we can only restore a backup directly from the WOP backend using the Pro version. I think it’s okay that data is only encrypted for pro users – you won’t find that in any other free version either.
What bothered me was that I couldn’t restore my backup smoothly. Maybe my data was too big, or my server thwarted the plugin’s calculations. If in doubt, try a backup and restore with this plugin before you rely on the system.
I don’t want to withhold another free backup plugin from you: xCloner .
xCloner is a very cool tool. I can set almost everything here that I usually only find in premium versions.
Storage via FTP, SFTP, DropBox, Amazon S3, Google Drive, WebDAV, Backblaze, Azure? No problem.
A differential backup? No problem.
Encrypted Backups (GDPR)? No problem.
Well … all of this is almost no problem. The only downside to this plugin is that you have to be a little tech-savvy. For example, you have to create external cron jobs for regular backups. Something like that prevents me from using this tool a bit. But I have a colleague who enjoys working with xCloner. As I said, I’m a little lazy there. I prefer to pay for something once and have less work later.
WPvivid is very popular, has a five-star rating in the free version – and, in my opinion, has fewer restrictions in the free version than many of its competitors.
You can very easily create a solid back up here – and you have very good setting options for almost every application.
In the next part, I’ll show you how you can set up WPvivid.
Everyone who uses MainWP will be happy that there is direct integration here. So you can backup all websites via your MainWP admin interface (does one say backup?).
In short: You can create a good backup in the free version and simply restore it. Of course, this applies to your data and the database. So far. So good.
You can also use the free plugin to save your page on another server (remote storage) and migrate your data to a new website. I think that’s a great offer.
You can also schedule your backups and save 7 versions in the free version.
In the paid version, the incremental backup and the encryption (GDPR) of your backups are added.
Conclusion: Free backup plugins.
All the backup plugins presented do a good job – even in the free version. If in doubt, simply test the various solutions and start with the plugin that gives you a good handling.
But start! Because every backup is better than no backup at all.
In the next part, I will introduce you to WP Vivid in detail and show you how I use the plugin for my setup. So it’s no longer about “WordPress Backup Plugin free” but about the premium version of a backup.
- What should you watch out for when using a plugin like WP Vivid or UpdraftPlus?
- What makes a good WordPress backup plugin?
- How do I make a full backup of large amounts of data?
- What types of backup are there?
- What does differential or incremental backup mean?
- How do I use incremental backups?
This is exactly what the third part of this small series, “Create WordPress Backups,” is all about.