Choosing a WordPress backup plugin that is right for you

Do you backup your blogs?  If not, you should! All the efforts you put into writing, advertising, marketing and administrating your blog can go to waste if appropriate reservation measures are not taken in time. Even though many hosting companies make backups of your account, it is still a must to have your own ones. As you never know when a disastrous failure can take place, having several restoration points is reasonable.

There are numerous backup plugins for WordPress to help you tackle issues of this sort. Instead of going through the trial and error method to choose the right one for you, let’s make the choice easier! Here is a little review of the three most popular backup plugins: DBC Backup, WP-DBManager, WP-DB-Backup. It was decided to rate them according to the following requirements:

  • Plugin should be easy to install.
  • Plugin should provide automatic backing up feature.
  • Interface of the plugin should be user-friendly.

WP-DB-Backup

This one is probably the most popular WordPress backup plugin. Installation is relatively easy if your ‘wp-content’ inside WordPress directory is writable. If it is not, you will have to temporary modify the permissions of this directory to make it writable so that the plugin can create a directory to store backups in. The latter is named ‘backup-*’, where “*” is an arbitrary number which solely purpose is protecting the folder from being randomly guessed. This folder is automatically created with permissions 755, owner ‘apache’ and your user as group (e.g.: drwxr-xr-x apache username backup-56025).

WP-DB-Backup menu screen shot

Figure 1. WP-DB-Backup menu.

Additionally, an empty ‘index.php’ file is placed inside the directory to prevent its content from being listed in a browser and a random hash is added to a name of a database dump file when it is created. This makes the operation of the plugin relatively secure. Even though reading permissions for backups are granted to the public, it is almost impossible to steal the backups. Simply speaking intruders don’t know neither the name of the files nor the location they are stored in.

Options available in the WP-DB-Backup plugin are shown in figure 1. The interface is friendly and easy to use. The amount of WP-DB-Backup capabilities is relatively small but sufficient for occasional backing ups.

In my opinion, the main disadvantage of this plugin is that it only allows automatic backing up to your e-mail address, rather than the server itself. In case the backups are large, this option becomes useless, as mail size restrictions will prevent file delivery to your mail box. Therefore, this plugin is good only in case you intend to regularly backup the blog manually, or if the size of your database backups is small.

WP-DBManager

This is a sophisticated database management tool providing therefore a large list of handy features. You can perform various database operations using this plugin such as viewing general information, optimization, backing up, running SQL queries, dropping tables and repairing your database. As a matter of fact, this is almost a built-in PhpMyAdmin.

WP-DBManager menu screen shot

Figure 2. WP-DBManager database options menu.

Installation, however, isn’t quite simple. You need to know the location of ‘mysql’ and ‘mysqldump’ on your server (see figure 2). Without paths to these programs the plugin will not work correctly. To obtain this information, you will need to contact your hosting provider. In order to improve security you will need to copy the ‘.htaccess’ file from the plugin folder to the backup location. This file will prevent public from accessing this directory. Besides disabling listing of the backup directory this tweak will also restrict access to it via HTTP.

With help of this plugin you can fully automate the backing up process of your blog’s databases. You can even schedule their optimization. Parameters you can control are shown in figure 2. Interface of the plugin is very well structured for such a large amount of features available, but it will take you some time to explore all of them. This is definitely a good choice in case you need automatic backups in conjunction with enhanced database management features

DBC Backup

This is the best tool if you need to make automatic backups only. The installation is extremely easy and requires no sophisticated actions. Only in some rare cases you will need to change the permissions for your backup folder, but it is likely that the plugin will succeed in creating this folder on its own with appropriate access parameters.

DBC Backup menu screen shot

Figure 3. DBC Backup Menu

DBC Backup uses the same security mechanism as WP-DBManager – .htaccess file located in the backup folder restricts http access to it. But unlike WP-DBManager, DBC Backup creates it automatically and needs no input from the user.

The interface is very simple and friendly. All you need to specify is:

  • the folder you want to backup to;
  • whether you want this done automatically (including the schedule);
  • whether you want to delete the old backup files when new ones are created.

All DBC Backup options fit in just one window (see the figure 3).

Bottom line

All three plugins can come in very handy for your WordPress blog. Still they differ in capabilities according to introduced rating requirements. So far the best plugin is the DBC Backup, because it meets all three requirements; it is very easy to install and use and it allows scheduling automatic backups to the server WordPress is installed on. Moreover all important plugin related system messages are displayed on the same page as the options themselves, which is very convenient for monitoring.

WP-DB-Backup is relatively easy to install and use, but it doesn’t allow automatic backing up to the server your blog is hosted on. Manual backups can be performed to your local PC, server or mail with the help of this plugin. Therefore if you are ok with manual backups or have a blog small enough to send its backup to an email address, then this solution will suit you well.

Even though WP-DBManager plugin is harder to install and configure it provides a lot more functions. This plugin is great for general database management. It has full backup capabilities, including automation, and also allows automatic optimization of your blog databases. This is a great choice if you intend to do a lot of database management and are willing to spend some time configuring this plugin.

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