Interview with WordPress Backup Plugin Makers, UpdraftPlus

As we are avid users of UpdraftPlus, the excellent backup plugin for WordPress, and their awesome support colleagues answer emails personally, we asked for an interview for the KnowledgePower blog, which they nicely agreed to, and here you are 🙂

Check out the very useful advice and tips in the following interview with UpdraftPlus's Business Strategy Director Joe Miles :

screenshot of UpdraftPlus homepage headline - the world's most trusted wordpress backup plugin

Headlines from the UpdraftPlus homepage. Highly recommended WordPress backup plugin.

1. How long have you been developing WordPress plugins?

In fact, UpdraftPlus was the first WordPress plugin any of us worked on – beginning in mid-2011. (There are several others now; mostly a mix of WordPress back-end plugins and WooCommerce extensions).

Our lead developer began being involved with WordPress in 2007 (he can't remember when he started on PHP, but he began developing with HTML and JavaScript in the late 1990s!).

2. Why are backups so important?

Backups are a last line of defence against data loss.

There are numerous ways in which data can be lost from your site:

  • hardware failure,
  • user error,
  • faulty software,
  • hackers,
  • hosting company error...

These can all cause you to lose your data. When it comes to a web site, losing your data can mean losing the entire site.

Rebuilding a site from scratch can take days or weeks; all the while you are losing views, sales and traffic. Having a backup that you can use to restore your data means you can have your site back up and running within minutes, saving time and money.

Good backups are all about redundancy. It is very important to store backups in a remote location, as any issue that can wipe data from your server can delete your locally stored backups. If a backup is stored remotely, it won’t be affected by a problem with the server. A backup that is lost with the rest of your site isn’t much use.

screenshot of updraftplus storage integration options including google drive, dropbox, and amazon web services

The key reason we implement UpdraftPlus as a backup solution for KnowledgePower clients is the great selection of off-site file storage options, including their own cloud system, dropbox, and ordinary SFTP to any server you own.

3. Do you have advice for WordPress webmasters about backup frequency?

The frequency that backups should be taken depends on how often the data changes, and how vital that data is.

Often, the site’s content will be updated every day, while themes and plugins remain largely unchanged. For this reason, many webmasters take a database backup once a day, while backing up files once a week (to keep up with updates).

However, essential data (such as customer orders on a large e-commerce site) may be backed up every 4 hours, so the absolute minimum is at risk of being lost.

UpdraftPlus has a feature to automatically back up relevant data before updates (e.g. WordPress or plugin updates), which makes sure you're always covered with your most recent data before an update.

KnowledgePower: major benefit to have an easy way to backup in wp-admin before updates in case they kill the entire site, which happens surprisingly often, especially theme updates...

4. Don't frequent automatic backups mean your file storage overflows?

Most backup solutions can be configured to only retain a certain number of backups, and will delete oldest backups first.

The webmaster will need to decide how many backups they want to retain. But going beyond this simple feature, it's better to have something that can keep more recent data, and delete more aggressively as data gets older – e.g. 1 backup a week after a certain amount of time, and then 1 backup a month further back.

UpdraftPlus has just added a feature for this in a recent release.

In general, the strategy should be based on the frequency that backups are taken, how often the data changes and how long it is likely before a problem is spotted.

Finally, while it is good to know that backups are being handled automatically behind the scene, it is always beneficial to double check them every now and again, to make sure everything is working.

KnowledgePower: one way to ensure you have a routine to check that your WordPress automatic backups are running OK and storing successfully is to move or copy backup files off remote storage to local cold storage (e.g. an office NAS archive). Or another tip is that if you are doing backup file checks for one WP site (for example to fetch a recent copy for local development), use that as a trigger to quickly go and check on your other WP backups.

5. UpdraftPlus offers functions for a site "restore" and a site "migration" - what's the difference?

A site restore is what it says on the tin. It restores an existing site to a previous point from a backup. This is usually done if the site is somehow broken.

A site migration on the other hand is cloning (i.e. copying) the contents of a site to a new site using the backup. This is a slightly more complex process, as any reference to the old site URL needs to be updated. With WordPress sites, this is especially true, as WordPress stores the URL in the database for the generation of permalinks. The backup also has to be transferred to the new site, in order to be ‘restored’ there.

6. Any new developments in the works?

We've got lots of ideas – the challenge is the priorities! In the near term, we're working on Microsoft Azure storage support, and centralised management of backups, alongside a host of incremental improvements.

The next version of UpdraftPlus has some improvements already finished, including being able to resume a restore that your web hosting server timed out, with just one click.

Also, our licence server is about to get a big update that's been in the works for a long time – and once the new version has proved itself, we plan to put that on sale as a product for other developers to sell their plugins with.

7. What improvements would you like to see for WordPress generally?

Picking one thing is tricky. If we could have one “under the hood” gift for Christmas, it would be the death of the ancient PHP 5.2, which an appalling number of hosting companies still have on their servers, despite it being end-of-lifed in 2011. It'd save a lot of developer time if it would die.

For something more visible, someone needs to come up with an innovative solution to the way that the WordPress dashboard menu becomes disorganised and bloated once you've got more than a few plugins – something that doesn't require you to hand-edit your menu using a plugin in order to get a usable dashboard.

KnowledgePower: WORD.
Thanks for the interview Joe and good luck with your ongoing development.
UpdraftPlus is a free plugin - and highly functional in the free version so basically there is no excuse for not running automated backups of your WordPress sites; and the premium version is well worth paying for especially if you manage lots of WordPress sites.

About UpdraftPlus

  • Location: In the UK – mostly in Cardiff (the capital of Wales)
  • Key strengths: Backing up, cloning and restoring WordPress sites – reliably and easily; and having our product support by the engineers who work on the product, not by support drones who can't help you.
  • Typical users: All kinds of websites, big and small – from casual blogs, to major corporations.
  • Team: Two of the team have mathematics degrees from the University of Oxford, so, the core backup algorithms are in good hands; all our support desk staff are university graduates who write code.
  • Claims to fame: Customers include Princeton University and NBA and over 500,000 other websites – more than any other WordPress plugin that does scheduled backups and restores.
    One of Elegant Themes' top WordPress plugins for 2015.

External link to UpdraftPlus Team profiles page.

Business / Management Contact:
Joe Miles, business-management [at] updraftplus.com

Thank you for reading this non-commercial, marketing-interest interview for the KnowledgePower blog. Copyright 2015 KnowledgePower Ltd.

KnowledgePower is a Digital Marketing agency in the UK specializing in PPC management for SMEs. Managed WordPress backups and migrations come as standard in our Webmaster technical support service for businesses using WordPress sites.