How long should you keep your WordPress backups?

On this very blog, I’ve written up instructions for using WordPress Backup to keep copies of your website files, and also for using WP-DB Backup to back up your database (both types of backup are essential).

But what to do with those backup files?

Keep them, of course, but for how long?

Well, when it comes to storing your WordPress backups, you generally want to always have these two things readily available:

  1. The most recent backup
  2. The most recent backup from before the problem that caused you to need a backup

Although these are often the same, sometimes things happen (sites get hacked, plugins conspire to cross wires, your web host changes some settings on you — may these things never happen to you!) and you don’t know about it for a week or two, and by then your most recent backup also contains The Problem.

So if you back up your WordPress site weekly, and you save a month or two of backups, you’re fine — which means you can dump a whole bunch of those weekly backups, and still keep the most recent handful and be safe.

Also, schedule your backups with a frequency that makes sense for your site. If you’re posting every day, you probably want daily or weekly database backups. But if you don’t blog at all, and only update your site rarely, then you don’t need daily or weekly backups cluttering up your email inbox.

One other piece of advice about backups — I’d suggest keeping a copy of your WordPress theme in its original pristine condition, somewhere on your own computer. And if your theme has settings, and lets you export a copy of those settings, do that too (especially after you make changes to those settings).

It’s the backup paradox: You want to be ready for anything, while hoping nothing happens at all.

Finally, if you want me to do the setting-up and configuring and scheduling of backups, plus WordPress and plugin upgrades, I am reopening my WordPress Peace of Mind Program to a very limited number of new participants.

“Tower of backups” image by Tony Austin on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.

One comment

  1. Hey Wendy – It’s such a delight to see your answer to this question. My current WP blog backs up daily (though I’ve not posted in a couple months because I’m moving on to a new website . . . way too slowly). Anyway, I have over 700 backups sitting on my system. And at least once a week I wonder how many of those beasties are really necessary to my blog’s – and my – peace of mind. Now that I know I can safely get rid of most of them, I should probably go out and party in your honor. Thanks my friend. – g

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