I have about 20 WordPress (WP) plugins that I use on my sites. A plugin provides additional capabilities to a WP site. Some are specialized, such as the calendar for showing future events, but many are appropriate for any site. I will start with the ones I consider the essentials. Here is my most essential plugin.
WordPress Database Backup
If the website has value, it should be backed up. Your hosting site can be lost by a system crash, disk failure or your hosting vendor going out of business. Nothing is more sickening than losing months or years of work on a website. To protect from this, I download my content on a regular basis as well as schedule an email database backup daily or weekly.
There are only three parts of a WP site that make that installation unique. All other WP files can be downloaded from wordpress.org.
- wp-config.php – This file in the root of the installation sets the configuration for the site. It points to the database as well as setting the prefix, language and security features.
- wp-content – This folder has all of the site-unique content: themes, plugins and uploaded files.
- The database. Assuming you are using the default prefix “wp_” then the table names beginning with wp_ are WordPress tables. These have the posts as well as all content and user information.
The first two (wp-config.php and wp-content) can be downloaded via an FTP utility such as FileZilla to your local computer. The database cannot be downloaded with FTP. It must be exported. “WordPress Database Backup” by Austin Matzko is one way to backup the database. Download the plugin and FTP the wp-db-backup folder into wp-content/plugins. In WP version 2.7, you can upload and install a plugin from the Plugins/Add New panel. If you are using the WP 2.7 Add New Plugin, you send up the original zip file.
Now go to Plugins and activate “WordPress Database Backup”. To configure the plugin, go to Tools/Backup. The screen is divided into a top, middle and bottom. The top/middle is used to do an immediate backup. If you have not installed any plugins that create new tables, all you need to do is go to the middle area and click on the “Backup now!” button. If you have other plugin tables, select them from the top area.
The most powerful feature of the plugin is the Scheduled Backup in the bottom section. Select a schedule interval. I use Once Daily for popular sites and Once Weekly for more static sites. Enter the best email address and click on the “Schedule backup” button. Now you will be emailed a zip file backup of your database.
How to restore the system in the event of a host failure is another discussion and is usually left to an IT person. Restoring a lost system is complicated, and it cannot be done without the backups. Hopefully you will never lose a site, but if you do, a simple backup can save it from being lost in cyberspace forever.
wp-db-backup is available from: http://www.ilfilosofo.com/blog/wp-db-backup/
FileZilla FTP is available from: http://filezilla-project.org/