My WordPress backup and restore process

As I am writing and publishing more and more blog entries, it becomes important that I have good and reliable backups. I know that if something happens and I cannot recover my entries and comments, I would be terribly upset. So I want to share my process here. Please feel free to share your backup methods by commenting. Hopefully somebody will find it useful.

Backup comprises two parts:

1. File backup

On a Linux machine with Apache, the default web files and directories reside in /var/www/html. Yours may be different. This include all php files and sub-directories like wp-content, wp-include, etc.

The easiest way to do it is to use tar command with -z to compress them. My post here gives you a pointer on tar.

These files are fairly static, so you do not need to back them up too often. You want to do file backup after you tried a new theme, installed a new plugin, etc. You should transfer this backup to a different box, in case the web host dies.

2. Database backup

For mysql database backup, you can use mysqldump, a utility that comes with mysql. mysqldump will iterate through all tables within the database, get their ddl, and dump all data in the form of insert statements. Below is the code to dump everything out and compress them using gzip:

mysqldump -q -e -hlocalhost -uLogin -pPassword MyBlogDb | gzip – > ./BlogDbBackup.sql.gz

Once again, gzip can shrink the size down pretty substantially. So do use it, especially if you have space issues.

There is a database backup plugin that comes with WordPress 2, which is the method I use. However, you do need to run chmod 777 on your database backup directory. If not, you will see the warning message of not enough privilege on your WordPress manage page. And you should be able to find out the backup directory name from that page, so you can run chmod.

In addition to the backup plugin, I also installed the wp-cron plugin. With wp-cron, I can schedule daily database backup and send it to an email address I defined. If I have a choice, I’d rather put everything in a shell script that backs everything up, compress them, and email the file to me. I then use cron to schedule it. However, since I am not root on my web host, I have had troubles setting up a smtp client for email, as documented here.

Now backup is done. The next step is to make sure my backup files work. I set up a standalone LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySql, PHP) box, extracted php files, restored the database by running:

mysql -hlocalhost -uLogin -p MyBlogDb < BlogDbBackup.sql I then modified wp-config.php file. And behold, it worked. Even my Chinese entries displayed properly. In a future post, I will share with you some of the lessons I learned in the process. Stay tuned...