How To Backup And Restore Your Self-Hosted WordPress Website

Today I’m writing a post to hopefully save new bloggers like me MANY HOURS of anxiety and frustration. See, late on Tuesday night, I unknowingly made a HUGE mistake and deleted most of my image files from the media library of my blog (long story short, I didn’t realize that you had to keep all of your media files in order for them to still appear in blog posts – now I know, you do!). Having had an extra busy week at work, I didn’t realize what I had made this terrible mistake until about 1 1/2 days later, when I went to my blog and all of my blog posts were missing ALL OF THEIR IMAGES.

To say I freaked out is an understatement; it was the closest thing to a panic attack that I’ve ever experienced. Over the past few days, I have researched a ton about recovering/restoring websites, and I must share the very simple details on how to do that to hopefully save someone from a lot of time, energy, and frustration.

Okay, let’s dive into the steps for backing up your website AND importing your blog’s content!

How to Backup Your WordPress Blog

Step 1: Login to WordPress.

Step 2: Navigate to the Tools icon (the wrench), and click on “Export”. 

Step 3: Choose “all content” (this will download all posts, pages, comments, custom fields, terms, navigation menus, and custom posts), and click “download export file”. 

Step 4: After the file has finished downloading, save it (make sure to keep the date of the backup in the file name) somewhere safe – either a cloud or an external hard drive.

Step 5: Do this on a daily/weekly/monthly basis based on how often you post on your blog. 

Step 6: You’ve successfully backed up your blog’s contents.

How to Import Content Onto Your WordPress Blog

Step 1: Login to WordPress.

Step 2: Navigate to the Tools icon (the wrench), and click on “Import”.

Step 3: Choose which system that you’re importing content from (for WordPress users, choose “WordPress”), and click “Install Now”, which will install a plug-in.

Step 4: Click on “Run Importer”.

Step 5: Upload your backup file and import (this will take a little bit of time to complete based on how much content you have backed up).

Step 6: You’re blog’s content should be restored back to it’s backed-up version.

Now, what happens if you didn’t proactively back up your blog’s contents and something happened to your website that you wished didn’t happen like what happened to me? Well, I’ve learned that many web hosting providers (think Bluehost, GoDaddy, eHost) provide complimentary backups (while each provider differs, Bluehost provides a complimentary backup on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis). 

How to Restore Your Website Via Your Website Host Provider

Before I dive into the steps for how to restore your website through your website host provider, I have to say that I had the best customer service help from Bluehost. Yesterday was the first time that I ever called the Bluehost customer support line, and the man I spoke with really took the time to hear exactly what happened and walked me through exactly what to do to restore my website to an earlier version. I have had zero issues with Bluehost and am very happy with the services they’re providing me. If you’re interested in learning more about Bluehost, check them out (affiliate banner below):

Step 1: Login to the host section (not the email section) of your website host provider’s website.

Step 2: Choose “hosting,” navigate to the “cpanel,” and then select “Site backup and restore”. 

Step 3: Under “Website Files”, click “Restore”. Choose the backup that you want to restore (a day, week, or month ago options through Bluehost).

Step 4: It will take a little time to restore your website based on how much content is being restored. It took less than a minute to restore my website. 

Step 5: Once the restore procedure is complete, open an incognito window in the Google Chrome browser and navigate to your website address (this will ensure that your cache isn’t showing you an old version of your website) to make sure it’s restored back to whichever version you chose based on the daily, weekly, or monthly backup options.

Step 6: Your website should be restored to its previous version.

I have to give a huge shout out to a member of the Blog While You 9-5 Facebook group that I am a part, who inevitably pointed me to see if my website host provider offers backups. I use Bluehost as my web host provider, and after a little digging, I found out that YES, they do provide complimentary backups on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. I was able to revert my blog back to how it was a month ago (by the time I figured out that they provide free backups, it was too late to use the daily or weekly backup options). 

When I did the website file restore, 95% of my website was back to how it was before – it wasn’t a perfect restoration. For some reason, the images from my latest 5 blog posts didn’t restore properly. Luckily, I always copy and paste my published posts into Evernote, so I simply navigated to Evernote, snipped the images that were missing, and uploaded them to my media library on WordPress. This allowed me to restore those 5 blog posts with the image files that I originally used. Then, I was missing 8 blog posts that I had published since the monthly backup, so I copied and pasted the posts from Evernote into separate blog posts and re-published them (it took about an hour to do this, but it was doable, I just put on Spotify and went to work).

I hope this blog post can help bloggers out there avoid the hours of trouble that I just went through this week by helping ya’ll be proactive in backing up your website contents OR being able to quickly restore your website via web hosting provider.

Have a website horror story or another tip on this topic? Share with us in the comments below.

Cue “Cheers to the freakin’ weekend” – now I’m finally going to enjoy the weekend!