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UpdraftPlus: the definitive guide

September 9, 2022 / Published in:  from Ivan Messina
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UpdraftPlus is a WordPress plugin that allows you to create site backups and restore them in a few clicks.

In this article, UpdraftPlus: the definitive guide, we will find out how to use UpdraftPlus, from creating a backup to restoring to configuring cloud storage.

After the setup, we will compare the free and premium version, find out how to configure UpdraftCentral to manage multiple sites with UpdraftPlus, and see how to fix any problems with the plugin during backup.

Updraftplus Guide

What is UpdraftPlus

UpdraftPlus is a WordPress plugin that allows us to do site backups and restore them. With the premium version we can also migrate and clone a WordPress site.

We can create and schedule backups for our site and save them directly in the cloud. In fact, the plugin integrates with several cloud storage services already available in the free version and gives us more options with the premium one.

The plugin comes in a free version and a premium version with additional features. Later on we will take a look at the differences.

Firstly, let’s look at the main methods for creating a backup and why it is important to do so.

How to do a WordPress backup

There are several ways to do a backup for a WordPress site:

  • we can create a manual backup by copying all the site files and downloading a copy of the database
  • we can use a plugin.

In any case, having a backup of your site is important because it lets you to restore the site if something goes wrong.

What is a backup used for?

With all our plans from shared hosting to WordPress hosting and semidedicated hosting, we offer automatic backups on a daily basis and keep the last 30 backups.

Keep in mind, however, that before a major operation such as a site update, it is always recommended to do a manual backup.

Some of the situations in which it is necessary to do a backup are as follows:

  • before updating WordPress or a plugin
  • before making major changes to the site.

In addition, backups also allow us to restore the site in the event of getting hacked.

How to install UpdraftPlus

To use UpdraftPlus to do a backup of a WordPress site, we need to install the plugin on our site.

Keep in mind that in this guide we will use the free version of the plugin.

To install the plugin we have to access the WordPress bulletin board and click PluginAdd New.

Wordpress Plugins Settings Add New Plugin

Look for the name of the plugin using the search bar and click on the Install Now button next to “UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin“.

Install Updraftplus

After installation, activate the plugin by clicking Activate.

Activate Updraftplus Plugin

Now our backup plugin is ready to be used. Let’s see how to access the settings and what it allows us to do in the free version.

How to use UpdraftPlus

After installing the plugin, we can access the settings.

In the Settings section of WordPress, the UpdraftPlus Backup item will appear.

Updraftplus Backups Settings

Through the settings we can do a backup, schedule it, or restore a site backup.

We are faced with six ballots:

  • Backup / Restore
  • Migration / Clone
  • Settings
  • Advancing tools
  • Extensions/Premium.

Remember that you can also access the tabs by clicking on UpdraftPlus from the WordPress toolbar.

Updraftplus WordPress Toolbar Menu
This screenshot highlights the two methods for accessing the UpdraftPlus plugin settings.

Let’s look at everything you can do by going through the 6 tabs of the plugin one by one.

Backup / Restore

The first settings tab, Backup / Restore, allows us to make a manual backup and view scheduled and existing backups.

From the Next scheduled backup section, we can check if there are any scheduled backups, and we can create a new backup.

How to create a backup

To create a manual backup with UpdraftPlus we simply click on Run Backup.

Updraftplus Backup Now

A window will open that allows us to select settings, and we can choose whether to include the database and files in the backup.

Updraftplus Perform A Backup

In addition, if we have also activated other services such as UpdraftPlus Vault, we can choose to save the backup remotely as well by checking the relevant option.

We can leave the default settings and click on Run a backup.

An alert like this will confirm that the backup has been completed.

Updraftplus Backup Completed

How to manage backups

From the Backup / Restore tab, we can also restore a backup we made previously.

We simply scroll down to the Existing Backups section to see a list of all the backups that are there.

Updraftplus Existing Backups

If you don’t see any backups in the list, try retrieving the archives by clicking on “Scan remote storage“. Keep in mind that you must first have configured the type of storage to use, such as Google Drive, Dropbox, or other methods.

If, on the other hand you want to search for backups among local files click on “Repeat local folder scan“.

For each backup in the “Existing Backups” list we will see the date it was made, we will see what files were stored, and we will be able to access a list of actions.

Specifically, we can restore a backup, download a copy of the backup locally, or delete a backup. Let’s see how you can do this.

Download backup data

Under “backup data” we find a number of entries: database, plugins, themes, uploads, and others.

These are the individual files in the backup, by clicking on one of them we can download a copy of the files, for example by clicking on “database” we can download the database backup.

Scaricare Dati Backup Updraftplus 1024x201 1

After that we will be asked whether to download the backup locally.

Updraftplus Download Backup On Your Computer

Carry a backup

You can also upload backup files by clicking on Upload backup files and then dragging them directly to the section indicated.

Updraftplus Upload Backup File

This function is useful if we need to restore a backup that we downloaded locally.

Upload A Backup File With Updraftplus

Keep in mind that with the free version of the plugin we can only upload backups created with UpdraftPlus.

Restore a backup

If you want to restore a backup with UpdraftPlus you just have to click on the Restore button below the list of actions.

Updraftplus Restore A Backup

Before restoring you will be asked which files you want to restore, you can select all of them or restore only some files, for example restore the themes or plugins.

Updraftplus Restore A Backup File Step 1

You are then prompted again to confirm and start the restoration, to continue click on Restore.

Updraftplus Restore A Backup File Step 2

When the operation is complete, a notice like this will appear telling you that the restoration was successful.

Updraftplus Restore A Backup File Step 3

You can then click Back to UpdraftPlus configuration to return to the plugin settings.

After restoring, the old directories are modified by adding a “-old” suffix. To delete folders after restoration you can click on the Delete old directories button that appears on the message at the top of WordPress.

Updraftplus Delete Old Directories

Before deleting previous directories make sure the site is working properly after restoration.

Migration / Clone

From the Migration / Clone tab we can create a copy of the site that will be saved on the UpdraftPlus servers.

In order to use this feature, we must have UpdraftClone tokens available.

From this same tab we can start the site migration if we have the Migrator add-on, available with the paid version of the plugin.

Updraftplus Migrate And Clone Settings

Settings

From the Settings tab we can schedule backups.

By default backups are not scheduled, let’s see how to schedule them.

Remember that after making changes to the settings you will need to click the Save Changes button at the bottom of the page.

Schedule backups

First, we can choose to schedule backups by choosing from the following intervals:

  • Every 2, 4, 8 or 12 hours
  • every day
  • every week
  • every 15 days
  • Once a month.
Updraftplus Backup Schedule Settings

Remember that with UpdraftPlus Premium we can set up scheduled backups for any interval.

From here we can also choose the number of scheduled backups to keep. The default setting is 2.

We can choose to schedule file and database backups. In this example, we’ll set up scheduled backups on a daily basis for both the files and the database.

Updraftplus Daily Schedule Backup

The second step is to choose where the backups should be stored. With the free version of the plugin we can choose from the most common alternatives such as Dropbox or Google Drive.

Updraftplus Remote Storage Selection

After selecting one of the options, we need to provide the necessary information. For example in the case of Google Drive we have to log in with Google to confirm authentication.

The third step is to choose which files should be included in the backup.

By default, all files except WordPress core files are selected.

Updraftplus Include Files In The Backup

If you need to restore these files just download the installation files from the download section of WordPress.org.

Let’s see how to configure remote storage using Google Drive as an example.

Configure Google Drive with UpdraftPlus

After choosing Google Drive as the remote storage option click on the Save Changes button at the bottom of the page.

At this point a message will appear stating that we need to authorize access to the Google Drive account in order to perform backups.

Updraftplus Google Authentication

By clicking on Sign in with Google we are redirected to the Google login page and can select the account with which to authenticate.

Updraftplus Google Drive Access

After confirming the authorization we can complete the setup by clicking Complete setup.

Updraftplus Complete Google Drive Setup

We will be redirected to the WordPress message board and will see a notice like this one telling us that the authentication was successful.

Updraftplus Google Drive Connected Successfully

At this point, if we have already created site backups, we can upload them to Google Drive.

We simply have to go to SettingsUpdraftPlus Backup and then from the list of existing backups click Upload.

Updraftplus Upload Backup On Remote Location

After that in the list of existing backups we will see the Google Drive logo under the backups saved in the cloud.

Updraftplus Uploaded On Google Drive

After the backup is completed we can find the archives on Google Drive.

Google Drive Show Updraftplus Backups

Keep in mind that with the free version of UpdraftPlus the archives will be stored inside the “UpdraftPlus” folder.

With the premium version of the plugin, however, you can set any name for the folder.

After configuring the storage method, in this case with Google Drive, when we go to perform a manual backup, by clicking Run Backup from the Backup/Restore tab of the plugin, we will see the option “send this backup to a remote storage.” We then simply have to check the box to directly save the backup on Google Drive.

Updraftplus Send This Backup To A Remote Storage

Exclude files or folders from backup

From the Settings tab we can choose to exclude certain folders or files from the backup, to do so we just need to follow these steps.

First click on Add an exclusion rule under “exclude these from Others” to enter the name of a file or folder within wp-content not to be included in the backup.

Updraftplus Exclude Files And Directories

We are then asked whether to exclude all files that begin with a certain string, all files with an extension, or specific files/directories.

If we want to exclude a specific folder or file, we have to select “file/directory.”

We then choose the folder from the list and click the Add an Exclusion Rule button.

Updraftplus Exclude Files And Folders

If we want to exclude files with a specific extension we then have to click on “All files with this extension.”

Updraftplus Exclude All Files With This Extension

After that we type in the extension, for example, “zip” and click on Add an exclusion rule.

Updraftplus Exclude Files With A Specific Extension

With this rule we exclude all “.zipper” files contained in the “wp-content” folder.

Advanced settings

From the Settings tab, by clicking on Show advanced settings, we can access other options that may allow us to fix any problems that occur during the creation of the backup.

Let’s look at the settings that we can use to solve any problems with UpdraftPlus.

Updraftplus Expert Settings

Debug mode: we can enable debug mode if something went wrong during the backup creation. Remember to turn off the option after you are done, and keep in mind that as long as the option is on, errors from other WordPress plugins will also be shown on the screen.

Split each archive: in some cases it is possible to get errors if we are trying to do a large size backup. In this case it is useful to set a limit and split the backup file into smaller archives.

Delete local backup: by the default option, local backups will be deleted after the backup is sent to the remote location we have chosen (e.g., Google Drive).

Backup folder: from here we can change the name of the directory where backups will be stored.

Here, we have seen what the advanced settings are. Whereas in this section Solve problems with UpdraftPlus we will see how to proceed in case of any issue when creating the backup.

Advanced tools

From the Advanced Tools tab of UpdraftPlus we can access a variety of information and functions.

Site information: from here we can check some information about the site such as the path to the wp-content folder and plugin folder, the server space used by the plugin, and so on.

Lock settings: with UpdraftPlus Premium we can enter a password so that only authorized users can access the plugin.

UpdraftCentral: this is a plugin that allows us to manage from one panel multiple sites on which we have installed the plugin. In the section, Use the UpdraftCentral plugin we will see how to use it.

Search / replace database: with UpdraftPlus Premium we can use the search and replace function in the database.

Site size: from here we can calculate the space occupied by plugins, themes, uploads and other site files.

Export/import settings: we can export or import the plugin configuration.

Updraftplus Import And Export Settings

Clean the settings: from here we can restore the settings.

Updraftplus Wipe Settings

Extensions / Premium

From the Extensions / Premium tab we can upgrade to the premium version of the plugin.

How to delete backups

In the previous sections we have seen how to create a backup, schedule backups at regular intervals, and restore a backup.

In some cases it may be useful to delete previous backups to free up space.

To delete the backups we have made, we can access the UpdraftPlus settings and from the Backup / Restore tab access the list of existing backups.

From the “Actions” section we can click Delete to delete individual backups. Or we can select more than one and click on the Delete button next to “Actions on selected backups.”

Updraftplus Delete Old Backups

We will then be asked if we want to delete the backup from remote storage as well.

Updraftplus Delete Remote Backup

UpdraftPlus free vs. premium

Now that we have seen what the plugin is used for and how to use it, let’s go into detail and see what the functions of the free and paid versions are.

FunctionsUpdraftPlus (free)UpdraftPlus Premium
Manual and scheduled backupsYes, with limitations on those scheduledYes
Cloud backupYes, with limitations on the number of compatible servicesYes, with more options available
Incremental backupsNoYes
Site migrationNoYes
Clone siteNoYes, with a limited number of tokens and ability to extend
Support and updatesNoYes, for one year and with the possibility of an extension
Automatic backupsNoYes
Backups extended to “non-WordPress” filesNoYes
Backup for WordPress multisiteNo 
Backup for databaseNo (the database is backed up with the full backup)Yes, with multiple options, including databases “external” to WordPress
Restoring backups created with other pluginsNoYes
Compatible with WP-CLINoYes

Let’s take an in-depth look at the functionality of the two versions of the plugin. This will help you understand whether the free version is sufficient in your case or whether you may need the features of UpdraftPlus Premium.

Manual and scheduled backups

UpdraftPlus free

With UpdraftPlus free and premium you can make manual and scheduled backups. Backups are complete and include WordPress files, including plugins and themes and databases.

Updraftplus Backup

With the free version of the plugin we can set up scheduled backups for the following intervals: every 2, 4, 8 or 12 hours, or on a daily, weekly, every 15 days or monthly basis.

With the free version of the plugin we can restore backups directly from the WordPress back-end.

UpdraftPlus premium

With UpdraftPlus premium we can also make incremental backups.

An incremental backup is a backup that allows us to save only the changes made since the last backup, rather than copying all the files.

In addition, backups can be scheduled for any time. We are not limited to fixed time intervals as with the free version.

Backup in the cloud

UpdraftPlus free

The free version of the plugin allows us to save backups by relying on cloud storage services.

Google Drive Brand Icon

The main compatible services are:

  • Dropbox;
  • Google Drive;
  • Amazon S3 of Amazon AWS;
  • RackSpace.

UpdraftPlus premium

With the premium version we can access more services in addition to those of the free version, including:

  • One Drive;
  • Azure;
  • Google Cloud Storage;
  • WebDAV.
Onedrive Brand Logo

In addition, with UpdraftPlus Premium we have 1 GB of storage space with UpdraftVault that relies on Amazon S3.

Migrate and clone the site

With the premium version we have access to Updraft Migrator, an add-on that allows us to clone and migrate the site. This feature helps us with migrations from one server to another.

Also using the UpdraftClone service we can create a copy of the site to create a test environment.

Updraftmigrator Vs Updraftclone Comparison
This table from UpdraftPlus shows us the features of UpdraftMigrator vs. UpdraftClone.

Transfer the site

There are several cases in which it may be necessary to transfer a WordPress site. In some cases it may be necessary to transfer the site manually or use a plugin to do so.

If you want to change hosting, with SupportHost the site migration is free and we take care of everything.

Returning back to the topic of plugins, Updraft Migrator is available as add-on that can be purchased separately or it is included in UpdraftPlus Premium.

With Updraft Migrator we can migrate the site without any limitation on the number of transfers.

Clone the site

The UpdraftClone service allows us to create a test environment by relying on UpdraftPlus servers.

The service works with tokens: one token allows us to create the test environment for 24 hours, and subsequent tokens allow us to extend the period for 7 days for each additional token.

You can purchase tokens even if you do not have the premium version of the plugin. Instead, with UpdraftPlus Premium we are given one or more free tokens, depending on the plan we choose.

Not all providers allow you to create a site testing environment. With SupportHost, the staging site is offered free of charge with all hosting plans.

Support and updates

With UpdraftPlus premium we can be entitled to free updates and support through the forum and via email for one year. After this period, it is possible to renew support and have access to new updates again.

H24 Support

Automatic Backups

UpdraftPlus premium also includes automatic backup feature before every WordPress update and applies to both core and theme and plugin updates.

ExtendedBackups

With the premium version, in addition to WordPress files, it is also possible to back up other files and all databases.

The free version allows us, in fact, to only do a backup of WordPress, i.e. database, themes, plugins and the upload folder. In this case to do a full backup we can use the cPanel backup which allows us to create a copy of the entire account.

With the premium version of the plugin, however, we can also back up other folders on the server.

Backup for WordPress multisite and networks

The free version of the plugin is limited to classic WordPress installations and does not allow you to create backups of installations such as WordPress multisite.

With the premium version we can use the plugin to create backups of the multisite installation. In addition, we can create separate backups, so we can restore it for individual resources or individual sites on the network.

However, it is not possible to migrate or clone a single site in the network.

More backup options for databases

With the premium version of this plugin you can choose different options for a database backup.

We can back up databases even if they are not related to WordPress sites. This means that if we have other applications on the server that use databases, we can create backups of them with the plugin.

We can also back up tables that are not part of WordPress, but are within the same CMS database.

Tip: You can create a backup copy of the database using the Export function of phpMyAdmin.

Import backups created with other plugins

UpdraftPlus Premium also allows us to restore backups created with other plugins. This way, we can restore a backup of the site even if we backed it up with a different plugin.

The list of compatible plugins and services is as follows:

  • InfiniteWP;
  • BackWPup;
  • Simple Backups;
  • BackupWordPress;
  • WordPress Backup To Dropbox;
  • Dropbox Backup by WPAdm;
  • Generic database backups (with or without bzip2 or gzip compression).

Compatibility with WP-CLI

The premium version of UpdraftPlus can be used directly from WP-CLI, the command-line tool that allows us to speed up management operations on WordPress.

Protect backups with passwords

With UpdraftPlus Premium, a password can be set to protect backups.

Use the UpdraftCentral Dashboard plugin

If we want to manage multiple WordPress sites from a single dashboard we might need the UpdraftCentral Dashboard plugin.

This plugin is also available in a free version. To use it we just need to install it and activate it like any other plugin.

Activate Updraftcentral Dashboard

The first thing to do after activating the plugin is to create a new page on our site. From this page we will be able to access the dashboard to check our other sites.

We then click on Pages -> Add Page and paste this shortcode within the page content:

[updraft_central]

Updraftcentral Shortcode

After that we save or publish the page. Remember that this page will only be visible to site administrators.

From this page we will be able to manage our sites, but first we need to add the sites.

From the WordPress bulletin board, we have to click on Settings -> UpdraftPlus Backup. Then we open the Advanced Tools tab and click on UpdraftCentral.

Updraftcentral Advanced Tools

At this point we click on Self-hosted dashboard and enter the address of the site on which we installed the UpdraftCentral plugin.

Updraftcentral Self Hosted Dashboard Settings

Then we have to click on Create to create the encrypted key that will allow us to connect to the dashboard.

Updraftcentral Remote Control Settings

We then copy the key and open the dashboard page again and click on the “+” icon.

Updraftcentral Add Website

Then paste the key in the indicated section and click Add website.

We can repeat the same process for the other sites.

Updraftcentral Dashboard Added Webistes

In this way, we can back up multiple sites from one dashboard.

Resolve problems with UpdraftPlus

In some cases you may run into errors when creating your backup with UpdraftPlus. Here are some checks you can do to try to fix them.

Problems with other plugins

First verify that you have the latest version of the plugin installed. If not, update to the latest version. In most cases the errors may be due to outdated versions of the plugins.

If you recently installed a new plugin and after doing so you started having problems with UpdraftPlus it may be that the error is due to a conflict between plugins. In this case try deactivating the plugins that you have most recently installed.

Unable to connect to remote archive

If you are having trouble restoring a backup saved in the cloud or uploading a backup to the cloud, you may need to verify the authentication again.

You can follow the steps I explained in the section Configuring Google Drive with UpdraftPlus and authenticate again.

Updraftplus Google Drive Autentication Error

Also make sure that have adequate space. If so, you could delete some files or upgrade your cloud storage service.

Backup of files too large

Another common problem why the backup fails is because the files are too large.

In this case we simply have to go and change the plugin settings so that we can create smaller archives into which we can divide our backup.

To do this we open the Settings tab and click on Show advanced settings. After that we set a lower limit next to each Split archive, for example 100 MB.

Updraftplus Split Archives

Remember to save the changes after changing the settings.

Conclusion

In this article, UpdraftPlus: the definitive guide, we have seen how to use UpdraftPlus, one of the most widely used backup plugins. Even in its free version, UpdraftPlus allows us to easily create a backup of our WordPress site and restore it when needed.

What about you, have you already used UpdraftPlus? Or do you have any other plugins to recommend for backing up WordPress? Let us knowing the comments below.

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