How To Backup the Content On Your WordPress Blog

Many of us woke up today to see that our WordPress blogs had changed.  For me the colours of the theme I use had reverted back to their original shades and there were items missing off my menu bar.

Hugh's Workspace Blog Hop

WordPress seem to have fixed the problem now (at least my blog is now looking like it did when I last left it), but the whole experience got me thinking about backing up all the content on my blog.  Just imagine losing all your posts, comments, images, etc, etc.  What a nightmare, yes?

I recommend that everyone backs up their blog content as often as possible.  I backup the content on my blog once a week and it is very easy to perform. Here is a very quick guide on how to perform a backup for your blog.

  1. Go to your blog’s WP Admin page (this is your dashboard).
  2. Go down to ‘Tools’ but do not click on it as a side window will open.
  3. In the side window click on ‘Export’.
  4. On the ‘Export’ page, under “Choose What To Export”, make sure ‘All Content’ is selected.
  5. Click on the ‘Download Export File’ button.
  6. All the content on your blog will now be downloaded and you will receive a message from WordPress saying they will email you a link to the file.
  7. Go to your email box and look for the email from WordPress.
  8. Click on the link in the email, and the backup will be downloaded to the hard-drive on your computer.

I would recommend you also download the information onto a memory stick, just incase the hard-drive on your computer ever decides to fail!

I’d be delighted to answer any questions you have about the above.  Simply leave them in the comments section and I will get back to you as quickly as possible.

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294 comments

  1. So glad I found your site, Hugh. Your info is immensely helpful. In attempting to follow the directions you so kindly provided, when I hit the Download Export File button, the info went into my Downloads folder (rather than getting a WP e-mail)… it asked if I wanted to “run” or “save” the file. I selected “save,” and then to my external hard drive. Do you think this was correct? I presume I will do this manually every week. Sorry, that I am not so tech savvy…but hope you can assure me or put me in the right direction. Thank you!

    1. Hello. Yes, that all sounds correct to me. I’ve just run another backup and got an email with the link from WordPress. As soon as I click on the link in the email, the backup is saved to my hard drive. Just remember to delete any older backups so as to free up space from your hard drive. As for how often a backup should be done, it depends on how often you publish posts. If you are publishing new posts on a daily basis then do the backup at least once a week.
      I hope that helps.

      1. Irene turned me on to this site, Hugh. I’m now about to backup my new blog as a “just in case” event. I’ve lost too many of them in the past, the latest being just before Christmas when I finally backed up and deleted my former site.My one piece of advice would be “do not EVER pay for a premium site!” That’s how I lost access to them all, and sad to say it took me more than one attempt before I discovered that as soon as I went to a .com or .net addy the domain was seized by a place that put it up for sale. Don’t know if someone at WP is behind that or not, but I was told that if I wanted to continue with my domain, paid for by me, I would have to pay them an additional $2000. US dollars.
        Now, big question. Do you know of a way to get the original method of posting back? Before they “improved” our way of writing and posting? I held on to it for a long time, but within the past year that format also disappeared. And if you could explain why they continue to “improve” things that are working well for most people, I sure would love to hear that answer! Thanks for this idea. Heading home to back up my new site before they do anything to it also.
        Angie

        1. Hi Angie,

          A big thank you to Irene for sending you over.

          When you say a ‘Premium site’ do you also mean the various paid plans that WordPress offers, or is it all to do with self-hosting? I’m sorry to hear about the troubles you have had. It must have been a very stressful time. I don’t ever want to think about what I would do if the contents of my blog were lost.

          The ‘original way of posting’ back. By this do you mean from the old dashboard where the option of ‘WP-Admin’ is at the bottom of the menu? I can still use the old method of creating and publishing posts but, sometimes, the draft does not get saved or simply won’t save, so I gave up on it and went to the new method. Some bloggers have told me that they can no longer access the old dashboard because WordPress has removed the WP-Admin button. Thankfully, it’s still on my dashboard, but somebody else told me that WordPress was in the process of deleting it from every blog. That thought does frighten me.

  2. Jumped over from Deb’s link on her recent Captcha update debacle and the GoDaddy/restore horror. THANKS for this, however the more I read about the fragility of the internet the more I want to run away screaming and go see if Walmart wants to hire me as a greeter! 🙂 GREAT reminder to back to a stick as well as a hard drive.
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    1. There’s so much to remember, Madelyn. It can become very overwhelming, but I think backing up one’s blog is one of the important things we bloggers always need to remember to do. I don’t even want to think about opening up my blog and finding it’s disappeared, and I’ve no backup. Yikes, that’s one of my worse nightmares.

  3. I’m so afraid to press that Export button! It’s completely ridiculous, but I’ve had a lot of nightmarish things happen here. One time I noticed someone who won Freshly Pressed use tons of tags so I used twenty. I ended up in Spam prison! Took three days to get out. I upgraded to a Business site which took me out of search in the Reader. Then I tried Yoast, since why not? It got rid of my floating follow button. Two posts I had scheduled before the change and changing back never ended up in the Reader. One was a post about a day in London. The other, my blogiversary post about what I learned in 6 years. Both took days to polish.

    I get PTSD just thinking about exporting. Ha! Completely ridiculous, I know. When I looked it up, it says WordPress would be up and running in a few days if the worst happened and the whole system crashed since they do backups every day.

    Danny just said, “Belt and suspenders, belt and suspenders. Do it anyway.”

    1. Hi Susie, after all the problems you’ve had with WordPress I can see why you don’t want to try doing that backup. However, whilst WordPress do back ups, they are nowhere near as thorough as the back up you do when pressing that export button. With over 100 million blogs that they host, there’s only so much data they can keep, so I always recommend that every blogger also do a backup of their own blog as a safeguard. It takes me less than 30 seconds from start to finish to back up my blog using the instructions WordPress give.

      As for tags, never use more than 14 as your post won’t end up on the WP reader. In fact, I was told by another blogger to use no more than six. She told me that using too many tags ends up confusing search engines. I didn’t believe her, but I tried it out and I’ve had a lot more referrals from search engines, so it does seem to work. I’ve also ended up in spam prison three times (even when only using 6 tags). WordPress always have to come and save me, but they’ve never been able to tell me why I’ve ended up in there. It’s not happened for a while now, but I have everything crossed while I type this. 😁

      1. Spam prison is the worst. It hasn’t happened to me recently either. *crosses fingers too*

        I’m down to 10 tags but will reduce them to six. Thanks, Hugh! I was told by a WP Happiness Engineer, a long time ago, that tags only helped to attract other WP readers, but you’re the second person who has said it correlates to SEO! All that misinformation is frustrating when I have almost 600 posts and very few that get searched. Do you think it will help to delete tags this late in the game or just use fewer moving forward?

        1. I’d update some of the more popular posts (both tags and any other information in the posts) and add in to the title of the post that it’s been updated by inserting the year in brackets. It’s something else I’ve learned in the blogging world which seems to work. 😀 I know it’s a lot of work, but maybe try updating one or two a week and go forward from there. Once you’ve updated them, remember to also share the updated posts on all your social media platforms.😀

  4. Hi Hugh – just thought I would let you know I came back to this post to remind myself how to do this. I’ve been tidying up my blog and rather than delete all the posts I think are irrelevant or I just don’t want to appear live I’ve reverted them to draft as I still want to keep them. One of the options I noticed in the back up is to take a export of the drafts only so that’s good for me. Once I get the file I shall put it in my ‘box’ so all my grand-cats can still read them 🙂 Thanks again for the post!

    1. Thanks for the update, Steve. I’m sure WordPress is tinkering with the backup tool, but it sounds to me as if they are doing good things with it. Phew! Good to hear you’re having a good tidy-up. It always cleanses my blogging soul whenever I do a tidy up of the blog.

      1. I’ve just thought of a question. I’ve never actually seen the results of the backup files. If I were to print them does it print exactly as it looks online?

  5. Hugh, when I click on the Export button, I don’t get the Choose What to Export option. Instead, I have the choice of paying for a “Guided Transfer” for $129 or a “Free Export” and a “Start Export” button.

  6. Great idea, Hugh. I think I have a plugin that does that on my self-hosted blog. I’m updating a couple of articles right now about the differences between WordPress.com and .org. There are some advantages to both, and that had to be a bit of a scare this morning. I never used to back mine up, and actually got shut down once! 😦 You just never know what will happen. I need to back up my WordPress.com. I haven’t looked at it today.

    1. I back up my blog at least once every two weeks, Marsha. Sometimes I do forget, but then I get a reminder from another blogger about it. 😀
      I look forward to reading your post about WordPress.com Vs self-hosting. I’ve seen a few people come running back to WordPress.com who went to self-hosting. I’ve also seen some poor quality self-hosting sites, but many great self-hosting sites as well.

      1. Exactly, and WordPress.com has the same thing. I would say that it takes hard work to do either. WordPress.com offers a lot of free services, and backing it up is one of the best things you can do to save grief. I need to do that to my WP.com site. 🙂 I’ve been working all day on the post that is connected to the Moving to WP.org post. hehehe. I have all these posts, but they all could link to tons of other topics that I haven’t written! I’ve been working on getting all of my posts SEO ready. You don’t have to worry about that on WordPress.com, so 80/140 of my posts are now ready. 🙂 I liked your articles about rewriting and reposting your articles from the past. That is basically what I am doing. I look forward to posting your article on the 19th. Your interview sounds wonderful. I’ll get it all set up and posted on the 19th. Can’t wait!!! 🙂

        1. Thanks so much, Marsha. I’ve been blogging for just over 3 years and have learned a lot about the subject. I’m still learning, but I do enjoy sharing what I have learned with others. I remember, as a new blogger, how blogging tips posts were the best finds.
          Have a great weekend.

  7. Thanks for the info on backing up the blog, Hugh. I have been thinking about that very thing lately. I want to look into publishing some of my poetry, and maybe some other blog articles. One thing about that, I write almost all of my poetry in a notebook…which is a good thing. However, I almost always change the poem before or while I’m typing it into the blog for publication. The prose-articles are almost always written as they are being typed…and have no backup other than on the WordPress site.

    Back in the day as a newspaper correspondent I was paid by the piece, and clipped everything I ever wrote for the purpose of getting paid! Great incentive. 🙂 That habit carried over after I became a full-time reporter, paid on salary, but I still clipped my work and saved it. I also have every paper I ever wrote when a university student…SO I’ve been thinking I should be saving my poems.

    1. Many people have commented that they write their blog articles outside of WordPress and save the document on their computer’s hard drive or even have a handwritten copy. Of course, anything on a computer’s hard drive should be backed up and then there’s the question should we do an extra photocopy of anything we’ve handwritten? Backing up our blog content is something many of us never think about, but I have heard of a couple of bloggers who have lost all their blog content and then discovered there was no backup. The backup process WordPress advises bloggers to perform is very easy to follow and takes less than a few minutes. The problem for many now seems to be remembering to perform that backup. As you are changing some of your poetry as you copy it onto your blog, I’d recommend you backup your blog at least once a month, more often if you publish posts on a daily basis.

      Thank you for commenting and letting us know what you currently do.

      1. I surely do miss those old computer programs like WordPerfect that had automatic back-up. I always did back-up, and doubled down after losing my final exam essay in Historiography…the computer ate my homework just doesn’t fly as an exucuse. 🙂

      2. I want to back it up electronically, but also print it out on paper. I am still a big advocate of good old paper. The expense of that would be huge though, in printer ink. I will look into having something published when and if I get the money and time.

  8. Hi Hugh. Isn’t it nice when we can visit old posts through the search, lol. Ok, I was just reading an article on backing up and I thought of your post, so I came back and read some comments here. My hosting company backs up my blog nightly, but we all know the more back up the better. I followed your directions, simple enough months ago, and I too never received an email with a nice neat link and a choice where to store. I have tons of individual loose folders, one by one loaded to my Dropbox all on its own. Because the language is geek, I don’t even know what’s what if I needed to retrieve, or what I should delete to make way for the next back up. My Dropbox is in a serious disarray because of WP content files all over the place. So, no emails, no permission asked where we’d like to download, and eating up precious space on my Dropbox. Not pretty, lol. Hence, I haven’t backed up again. 😦

    1. Hi Debby,

      Your comment reminded me to do a backup – lol. I’ve just performed one again and I’ve got the email from WordPress with the link to click on to save the backup. The link is only valid for 7 days so, right after this, I’ll be clicking on it and saving the backup.

      Now, I’ve looked into this again and found the attached.

      https://en.support.wordpress.com/export/

      The quick version is that the backup only works for those that use to host their blog. If you are confident that the company you use to host your blog is doing the backup, then you’re safe. However, I would recommend you contact them and find out exactly how they back the contents of your blog up, what they would do if your blog content was lost and ask if there is anything else you need to be doing.

      Whilst WordPress tell me that they do backup the contents of my blog, they do recommend that I also perform a backup (which I’ve now done thanks to you 😀). Your hosting company may well do something similar. Once you’ve found out I’d then recommend you get rid of all those unwanted folders.

      I hope that helps, even if only a little. 😀

      P.S – Let’s hear it and cheer for those older posts that lurk deep with the archives of our blogs. 😀

      1. Lol, you crack me up Hugh! Thanks for being such a sweetie and sharing your experience. Yes, I’ve been rest assured a few times, in fact every time I call my host for one thing I like to double check I’m safe with nightly backups. But one can never be considered too safe in this technical bubble we live in. I had a good chuckle at ‘let’s hear it for older posts that lurk deep in the archives’. No truer words. Do you know how many times I’ve searched my own posts for something? They aren’t called archives for nothing! LOL xo:)

        1. Absolutely, Debby. I even refer to my own older posts. I’ve sometimes found posts that I’d completely forgotten about. They are gold nuggets, especially when reposted and introduced to new followers (and those followers that forgot). 😀
          xx

        2. So true. Of course, if we’ve forgotten, naturally others have. But also, things we post may not have applied to a reader’s life at the time and then suddenly they’re looking for that info. 🙂 xo

  9. Thank you Hugh! I dind’t know you could do this on WP. I’ve been backing up all my posts manually on Word as I post them, and then saving them to USB as well. But this option saves a lot more. Appreciate it 🙂

    1. Backing up everything onto a USB stick is something I recommend. Many bloggers have told me that they save all their posts onto the hard drive of their computer as well. That’s very useful for publishing the posts elsewhere on the internet and, providing the hard drive is backed up, those posts will never get lost.

  10. Thanks for sharing this post, Hugh. I remember having a mild panic attack when I saw the theme colours and menu get messed up last year. I guess it was somewhere around the same time. I got in touch with WordPress support and he assured me that it was a software update. But, it was scary. I’ve got to get the blog backed up, but most of the online videos seem complicated. Your post makes it simple! Thanks once again.

    1. You’re welcome. I thought it worth sharing again as a reminder to everyone to remember to backup their blog. I don’t even want to imagine what it would be like to log on to WordPress one day and to find my blog has disappeared without ever having done a backup of it.

      1. I know, I worry about that constantly. A blogger lost so much of her data whilst trying to change the theme of her blog. Scary!
        So, I tried backing my blog and I can’t do it without the security code. We’ve shifted recently and I haven’t changed the phone number. Backup codes didn’t work. 😦 Need to figure a way around this.

        1. A security code to do a backup? I’ve never heard of that before. The only security code I use on WordPress is the one for the two-step authentication which is texted to me when I log into WordPress. On the odd occasion one has not been sent to me, I press the ‘send a recovery code’ option. So far, it’s always come through. If all else fails, then contact the WordPress Happiness Engineers.

  11. I chose the Free Option but I thought you’d get a kick out of this crazy option!! What the heck is a Happiness Engineer anyway and why is he/she worth $129.00!! LOL!! 🙂 😀

    Guided Transfer
    One of our Happiness Engineers will transfer your site to a self-hosted WordPress.org installation with one of our partners. They will transfer over all your content, install and configure plugins to support features you have used on WordPress.com, switch your domain(s) over, and provide support on your new WordPress.org install for a two-week period.

    1. Happiness Engineers are what WordPress refer to as their Customer Service team. I guess it’s a fancy name they decided to call them and somebody probably got a pat on the back for coming up with the name. I’ve used them many times and have always found them very efficient and professional. They’ve sorted out many problems I’ve encountered with using WordPress over the time I have been blogging, as well as fixing bugs I’ve also notified them about.

      Your guided transfer comments refer to moving your blog to a self-hosted site. If you are going down that route then I’d recommend you check with the host site what they do as far as backing up the blog content on the site goes and to ask them what, if anything, you need to do.

  12. Thank you Hugh I haven’t backed up and didn’t look to see how… very amis of me to presume WP would keep everything safe. Thank you once again *thinks* maybe he wears his pants on the outside… Super Hugh he’s a Marvel. 😇😉

  13. I remember that post very well. The interesting thing is that I wanted to do it lately again (and I did) but I received no email. I tried it again and no email. I have to check again if it was only a temporary error. Thanks for reminding 😉

    1. Hi, Erika. The email should come into your email inbox within an hour. If it doesn’t, then I would recommend you check your email address details are correct on your WordPress profile and also check that the email has not ended up in your Spam folder. I know when I first published this post, some bloggers found the email in their spam folder. Some bloggers also said that WordPress downloaded the file straight to the hard drive of their computer, so check there as well. I did a backup today and got an email from WordPress with a link to the backup file within 10 minutes. If all else fails then contact WordPress and report the problem to them. They should be able to get the backup file to you.

      I hope that helps.

      1. The email is correct. But I will check if it was downloaded right away. That is a good point. Thank you, Hughg. Otherwise I will contact them. They already seem to know me well, I guess… lol!

  14. Nice of you to reblog this important post Hugh. My blog is self hosted and the host backs up my blog nightly. 2 questions: Would you still back up again? And when you’re backing up all blog content on a regular basis, isn’t that eating up all your memory in storage on your computer?
    Thanks, xo

    1. I’d check what exactly they are backing up and what they would send you if you needed to recover your blog, Debby. Yes, the backup file does eat up memory on your computer’s hard drive. However, you can free up space by remembering to delete the previous backup file. Providing you do that, then there should be no problem with memory storage.

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