Manually Backup a WordPress website

How to manually backup your WordPress website

Here’s a quick tutorial explaining the way I manually backup my WordPress website. It follows a two step process using an FTP client software and your web host’s control panel. 

Step 1 – Backup your files

One of the quickest ways to access your website’s files is via a piece of software called an FTP client. There are several freely available ones to online, one of the best is FileZilla. There are both PC and Mac versions as well as older versions depending on your operating system.

(A huge shout must also go to the guys at as I’ve also found Transmit to be a most-excellent alternative for the regular FTP-er. It’s not free – but then the best things in life never are.)

I digress…


Install the version of FileZilla you require and fire it up.

FileZilla FTP client

The initial window you are presented with is split into several compartments. The left-hand side relates to the files on your computer or device (local files) the right-hand side are the files on the server you are connecting to (remote files).

Once connected you can simply drag and drop files from one place to another. Upload or download, replace, delete, merge – it’s a great way to manage your files (as long as you know what you are doing!).

So the first you need to do is hit the Site Manager icon (top left of the window). A second window pops up where you can add your FTP (File Transfer Protocol) login details and save them into a list of sites.

Manually backup your WordPress website

Essentially there are three vital pieces of information you need. The host or server, your username and your password. All these can be provided by your web host – check with them if you’re unsure what your details are. Usually your username and password are the same as those required to access your hosts’s control panel.

Once you’ve connected to your server, navigate to the parent folder containing your WordPress install. You may need to initially navigate into a folder called www or public-html and then into any subsequent sub-domain folders.

[aside]TIP: The clue to knowing you’ve found in the correct directory is when you can see folders called wp-admin and wp-content.[/aside]

Then in the left-hand portion of your FileZilla window navigate to a place on your computer where you want to save the files. I suggest that you create a new folder/directory and rename it to something really obvious like ‘website backup‘ followed by today’s date. This way you’ll be able to keep an accurate record of when you last backed up.

Select all the files in the right-hand window and drag them into your newly created folder on your computer. This will start the download process and can take a while depending on how big your site is.

Whilst your files are downloading, let’s move onto…

Step 2 – Backup your SQL database

The second part of the process requires you to backup your SQL database. All WordPress installations make use of a database to store vital information like theme settings, plugin options and the written content of your blog posts.

To access your database you need to log into your web host’s control panel.

Then you need to find the section relating to databases. You’re looking for a link to phpMyadmin. Here you’ll be able to access the inner structure of your database. You may then need to insert your database log in details. These are different to your host and FTP log in details and would have been emailed to you when you first created/installed your WordPress website.


Once you’ve logged in the phpMyadmin control panel select the database you want to backup from the list down the left-hand column. You may only have one – but select it to move on. Then, navigate to the Export tab using the horizontal navigation.


Here you need to follow these steps:

  • Select Custom as your Export Method.
  • Make sure you’ve selected all the tables within the database.
  • Set the Compression to None in the Output section.
  • Select SQL as the download Format.
  • Untick or deselect the option to Add Create Procedure / Function / Event Statement.
  • Hit Go to start the download.
  • Then scroll back up and select Zipped as the Compression method.
  • Hit Go again at the bottom of the page to commence a second download.

By downloading the database twice in different compression formats we’ve covered ourselves in case against potential errors if we ever need to use them. Essentially a backup of a backup.

SQL Export Settings unselect-add-create-event-statement

Once downloaded I then drag the two database files into the same folder where I’ve downloaded the files to in step 1. I then highlight them within the folder so I can easily see them.

…and that’s it. My two step process to manually backing up your WordPress website.

I hope you found this article useful and learnt something new. Don’t forget to subscribe to the Mission blog below and add a comment.

The Zaposphere Team.

Posted in Maintenance, Operations, WordPressTagged , , ,

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