How to restore WordPress from a backup

I think every single WordPress user has been in this situation at least once before. Whether because of an update gone wrong, a hacker, or making edits that ended up being permanent, there are plenty of instances where you might want to restore WordPress from a backup. You can’t do this if you don’t backup your WordPress site first, but assuming you have the file, restoring has become quite an easy task.

Restore WordPress from a backup, the options

There are a number of ways to run a backup of WordPress, which means there are a number of ways to restore a site. While the exact steps + button text might vary slightly, the idea remains the same.

My favorite backup to use is a server side backup from your hosting company. These tend to be complete backups of #allthethings that make up your site, are run daily (or at least should be) + are often the easiest to getting your site back in action. Where these backups run into problems is if you want to restore a single file or specific folder.

If you’re not using a hosting backup, you might restore WordPress from a plugin backup. Like one from BackupBuddy or BackWPUp. These plugins allow you to restore the entire site or specific files, but they also require some more hands-on work from you the site owner. You can schedule backups, but it’s up to you to ensure they are running + running as often as you want them to.

Shit’s broke…now what?

So you’ve found yourself in a situation where you need to get your site back to a previous version. If you ran a backup just before making the updates or changes, it’s a safe bet that you could go the more simple route + use the entire backup.

For our hosting clients, that means following these 4 steps:

  1. Log into their hosting dashboard.
  2. Click on the backups tab to select a backup to restore (most likely the newest one).
  3. Click “Restore” on that specific backup.
  4. Confirm that they want to restore. Then wait the few seconds it’ll take.

Those 4 steps take less than a minute to do from start to finish. Which is a big relief when you’re dealing with a borked website.

Plugin Backups

The good news is that plugin backups are pretty similar, as long as you know where to look. And if you’re running an ecommerce site where orders come in frequently, a plugin update may give you more control so you don’t lose order data.

From within your WordPress dashboard, click on the name of your backup plugin to view your backups. You’ll likely see a Restore / Migrate option within the menu or next to individual backups. Different plugins will confirm different details, but you’ll be able to return your site to it’s previous glory with only a few button clicks.

And if you’re picking which files to restore, check the checkboxes next to the ones you want — assuming your backup option allows you to.

What to do after you restore a WordPress site from a backup

You might think that things are groovy after your site is back up from whatever issue it was experiencing. And hopefully it is. But restoring + then running away is not the best plan. Instead, you’re going to do 2 things.

First, hop around the side of your site that your users see. Bonus points if you do this in a private or incognito window. Make sure the site is loading properly + that you’re not spotting any issues on interior pages or posts.

Second, you’ll need to come up with a plan for dealing with whatever broke your site in the first place. If it was a plugin update, make a note of the plugin version you were trying to update to. Give that plugin a week + check back to see if there’s a newer version pending.

Did your site break because you were editing theme files or clearing out content you actually couldn’t get rid of? Now you know + can make those edits outside of the WordPress environment or on a staging site to prevent these issues from happening again.

Was your site hacked + you used that backup to kick the hacker to the curb? It’s time to update every single pending update you have, change every password for all administrator accounts + set up a brute force attack plugin.

Video Tutorial

Are you more of a visual learner? This video covers restoring a WordPress site from a backup from BackupBuddy, BackWPUp, with SFTP, and a hosting backup.

In the video, I referenced a few elements that you can learn more about with the articles below:

on your keyboard hit enter to search or esc to close