It’s terrible to think about but just imagine for a moment if you can – what if one day you got up and your blog had disappeared?
It can happen. If your blog is hosted on someone else’s service – such as Blogger or WordPress.com – then you might find your blog is suspended if it’s found to breach the host’s terms and conditions, as several bloggers have found.
If you’re self-hosted, then there are still potential risks – a server failure on your host’s premises could mean your blog being wiped, while sometimes hosting companies will take blogs offline for legal reasons, or because your site is infected with malware that compromises their security.
It’s a small risk but the very best way to mitigate it is to BACK UP YOUR BLOG.
How do I back up my blog?
Very simply, you can back up a blog by exporting your blog posts to a file on your computer. If you use Gmail or another webmail, emailing a copy of this file to yourself means you’ll always have a copy of your posts. I try and do this at least once a month.
But there’s more…
Backing up posts by exporting them is all well and good but it only preserves your words. It won’t necessarily bring back comments, or your site’s design, or all those sidebar images you’ve added so carefully over months and years. To protect your posts AND all this extra stuff, you need to do a full back-up of your blog. How you do this depends very much on what sort of blog you have.
Backing up a Blogger Blog
Couldn’t be simpler! Just go into your dashboard, then settings, then choose ‘other’ and ‘export’. Job done.
Want to back up your theme/design? Click the ‘template’ tab in the dashboard, and select backup/restore. Job done.
Backing up a WordPress.com Blog
A WordPress.com blog is one that sits on WordPress.com and has that in the blog address. Backing up this sort of blog works along the same lines as Blogger. In your blog dashboard on the left hand sidebar, select ‘tools’ then ‘export’ and WordPress will export your blog posts, comments and tags. Job done.
Backing up a WordPress.org Blog
The bad news? It’s potentially a bit more complicated for you guys who have self-hosted WordPress blogs.
Yes, you can perform a basic back-up of posts, comments, tags and categories in exactly the same way as for WordPress.com blogs – select ‘tools’ then ‘export’ and export your blog file to your computer.
But if you lose your blog, it’s not going to be enough. The ‘engine’ of a WordPress.com blog is a database, that stores your blog’s settings and technical information. And this database can’t be accessed from your dashboard, since it lives on your hosting.
Backing up your database can happen in three ways:
- Your host might do it. A good host will back-up your database and settings daily. But do check. And think about what happens if your hosting company gets hacked, or burns down. Doesn’t it make sense to have your OWN copy of your blog?
- You might use a plug-in. There are a variety of WordPress plug-ins that will back up a blog for you. Some work well, some less well. But once you know how to back-up for yourself, you’ll wonder why you bother with the hassle.
- You can log-in to your hosting and do the back-up yourself.
Log in to your hosting company’s website and find your control panel, or c-panel. If you have a nice host, once you log into your account, there will be a nice back-up wizard that guides you through the process. Otherwise, you’re going to have to get your hands dirty. Ready?
Step 1: Find your database log-in
Dig out the email you got when you bought your hosting and you should find details of how to log into your blog database – specifically a database name and password. If you don’t have it, or have lost it, log into your hosting account’s control panel (cpanel) and open ‘phpadmin’ where you’ll find a file called ‘wp-config.php’. Open this file in a TEXT editor such as Notepad, and use ctrl+f to find your database log in details, as they’re listed in here. Or email your hosting company and ask for their help – nice hosting companies will usually oblige 🙂
Step 2: Log into the database
With your login details, you can now log into your hosting company account, and then use your database login to access your blog’s database in the cpanel. Once you’ve logged in, you’ll see a list of folders, similar to what you’ll see on your computer. All you have to do is choose the ‘export’ option, which is usually at the top of the screen somewhere.
Make sure you select all the contents of the database before exporting, and then export to somewhere you’ll be able to find the export file, like your desktop. The resulting file can be compressed using WinZip or similar, and then you can send it to Dropbox, so you have your own copy of your database – job done! Allow around 30 minutes for the back-up to happen, particularly the first time you back-up, but you can do other stuff while it’s backing up.
Whatever blog platform you use, we recommend backing up your blog at least a couple of times a year – and certainly every time you plan to make a major change to your blog – if nothing else it’s great to have a copy of your blog intact in case you break it or accidentally delete it while trying to do something clever.
Yes, I have done that myself.