It’s a common concern: your WordPress website needs updating, but there’s a small risk of the whole thing breaking.
So do you update your site anyway? Or do you not update, compromising your website’s security and missing out on new features?
To keep your website safe and secure, you should always update your website. But keep a regular backup.
Ensuring there’s always a backup available means you can revert your site to a working version, while we can help you figure out what went wrong and fix the problem.
Here we’ll discuss using BlogVault (affiliate links to BlogVault are used in this post) to back up WordPress websites. It’s our preferred website backup service as it’s automated, easy to use and reliable.
But first of all:
Why update your website?
Each time WordPress releases a new version it’s really important to update your website. And your website’s plugins should be updated as soon as possible when new updates are released.
There are three major reasons to update your website regularly:
1. To keep it secure and safe from hackers
2. To iron out bugs
3. To benefit from the latest features
Let’s look in a little more detail at each.
Keeping your site secure
Maintaining the security of your website relies on keeping it regularly updated. Not doing so leaves it open to attack from a hacker.
If someone maliciously gains access to your website, they can cause all sorts of havoc: from filling your website with spam, to wiping all your files and to locking you out completely.
Developers are constantly on the lookout for security problems and are quick to update the software after discovering holes hackers could exploit.
Ironing out bugs
While slightly lower in priority than the overall security of your website, updating your website will iron out small software errors or faults (aka bugs). Often you won’t even notice these bugs – other times you will.
With each new version of WordPress (or updated versions of any plugins you’ve installed) developers take the opportunity to implement as many bug fixes as possible.
Benefiting from new features
Thousands of people around the world work on WordPress, implementing exciting new features with every update. Because of this collaborative effort, WordPress has evolved hugely over the years.
Regularly updating your website means you can take advantage of all these new features as they become available – for free.
Backing up your website
Hopefully, we can all see it’s crucial to update our websites. But when every website is so different with thousands of themes and plugins available, how do we know if new updates will be compatible?
Often plugin developers will ensure their updates are compatible with a number of different versions of WordPress. But even if the developer has done everything in their power to check compatibility, it’s still possible a website could break after installing or updating a plugin.
And when you’re updating to a new version of WordPress, there’s plenty of room for problems to occur, including incompatibility with already installed plugins.
As no one can be 100% sure their website won’t break after updating it, there’s one golden rule:
Regularly back up your website.
Keeping your website backed up gives you a safety net whenever you update. If something goes wrong, you won’t have lost your site because you can simply revert to a previous, working, version.
Not to mention, you’ll always have a working version of your website available if your website were to ever get hacked.
There are a number of different services you can use to backup your website. But we particularly like BlogVault, made by Akshat Choudhary, and recommend it for backing up our clients’ sites.
BlogVault meets three vital criteria for a website backup service:
1. It’s easy to back up your website
2. It’s easy to restore your website to a previous version if something goes wrong
3. It’s secure
Easy interface, easy backups, easy restore
The nice thing about BlogVault is it’s intuitive and easy to use. Once it’s set up, it’ll automatically back up your website, and it’ll do this every 24 hours so you can always be sure you’ll have a recent version of your website to revert to. These backups are stored for 30 days.
It’s comforting to know BlogVault is working away in the background, saving you from the tedium of making regular backups and acting as a safety net.
And in the unfortunate event something does go wrong, it’s easy and quick to restore to a previous version of your site.
In your History, you can view the list of each incremental backup from the past 30 days. With details of any changes made, this feature not only means it’s simple to decide which version you want to revert back to, it also makes it possible to pinpoint what may have caused the problem.
BlogVault stores these different versions of your site securely, offsite. That’s because storing backups in the same place as your website is extremely risky.
Firstly, with their older versions of software, backups can be a potential target of malware. Secondly, if your server was to break with all your backups and your live site stored in the same place – there’d be no way to restore your site.
With BlogVault, your backups are ‘100% safety’ guaranteed – it uses Amazon S3 servers, your backups are encrypted, and site credentials aren’t stored with the site.
And your live website is further protected from hackers because it can be quickly and easily restored to a version before your site was hacked. The security flaw can then be identified and fixed.
Other BlogVault features
BlogVault has lots of other features too, some of our favourites include:
It’s quick: BlogVault’s backups are incremental – so each backup only uploads changes made since the previous one – making it really quick and light on bandwidth usage.
Immediate backups: These are great for if you’ve made recent changes and want to make sure they aren’t lost before installing an update.
Migrate your website to a new host: If you need to change hosting companies, this is easy to do with BlogVault.
Test your site restore. If you want to restore to a previous version of your website, you can first test it out and make sure everything is working as it should be.
So I’ve said it’s easy to use but if you do get stuck then on their website they have an online chat with Akshat Choudhary or one of his technical support team.
Over the 4 years we’ve been using BlogVault, Akshat has provided excellent technical support for us, often going above and beyond to help and explain.
And it was with great pleasure I met Akshat in person at WordCamp Europe 2015.
By now you can see why we love BlogVault (affiliate link) and recommend it to all our clients as an easy way to backup your website. And at US$9 ($89/year) for one website and US$19 per month ($189/year) for three websites, it’s well worth the investment for the peace of mind alone.
And if you have a fear of backing up and updating your site, you could always subscribe to one of our maintenance plans.