Do you have a backup plugin installed on your WordPress website? Does your hosting provider offer a backup solution as well? Which one do you use and why?
Today we’ll find out the differences.
What about no backup at all? Well, that’s not an option. At the very least, you can backup manually from your cPanel without additional tools.
Restoring your website or returning it to a previous version sometimes costs as much as building a new one. And if you think you’re not going to need a backup, here are some cases that at some point become inevitable for most people.
Why You Need to Backup Your WP Website
Hacker attacks – 20% of all small businesses get hacked at least once a year. Of course, you take all the measures to prevent attacks so it doesn’t get to the point where you need to restore. But emergencies happen even to the most cautious users, so backup is a must.
Pushing a staging version to live (too soon) – it’s ridiculous how often people make this mistake. They test some changes and, accidentally or not, push the unfinished staging versions to live without saving the current one.
Reversing to old versions – sometimes you have no other option than to test a new version of your website live, to see how visitors react and engage. And sometimes the old version turns out to be the best one.
Hosting issues – if your hosting crashes or lets you down in some way, and you lose any part of your data, you’ll need a backup to get the website running in case.
These are only a few of the cases when you need backup. Now let’s get back to the main question: what type of backup do you need?
Hosting Level Backup
So what is the hosting level backup? It’s an additional service offered by many hosting providers as another security measure and competitive advantage.
Backup is becoming an essential part of most hosting packages. And it has both its pros and cons.
WordPress users can choose from hundreds of backup plugins that make it easy to manage, schedule, and restore backups right from the WordPress dashboard.
Working at a company that offers both types of backup — one-click restore points for hosting and separate multifunctional backup service — I’m going to tell you about the differences and try to help you decide which one you need.
We’ll compare the backup types by their:
- Storage Locations
- Ease of Use
Cost of Hosting Level Backups
It may seem that when the service comes with the hosting package, no additional costs are involved. But you might be surprised.
While the cloud-based managed hosting providers — such as our partner 10Web or Kinsta — offer free backups in their WP hosting plans, others charge a handful for the backup service alone.
Some hosting providers, such as HostGator, SiteGround, and Godaddy, backup for free but charge an additional $25-$150 for a single website restore.
WebARX website security platform in addition to web application firewall, security monitoring vulnerability monitoring and more is also offering WordPress off-site backups. Want to know more? Read here.
Cost Of Backup Plugins
If you’re familiar with how WordPress plugins work, you probably know that they come in all varieties and in all pricing options: free, freemium (free with an option to upgrade), and premium. When you want a reliable plugin with extended functionality, you’re most likely expected to pay.
On isitwp’s list of 9 best WordPress backup plugins, we found both free and paid plugins. The paid ones start at around $40 and go up as high as $350 per year.
And if you want a free plugin, no matter how desperately you need one, never go for the hacked free versions of premiums. Just find an alternative that the developer is giving away for free. Otherwise, you’ll end up leaving backdoors to your website for the same hackers.
There are a lot of reasons why a company would give away their own plugins for free. Some hosting platforms, for instance, offer the premium backup solution as a part of their platform.
Hosting Level Backup Storage Locations
These are usually limited to either downloading the full-scale backup to your hard drive or restoring it from the hosting dashboard. By default, most of the providers store your restore points wherever your hosting is, but they can also be stored separately.
Our partner 10Web only has the restore points available and leaves the rest to the plugin-based backup service that comes for free with the platform.
Most of the shared hosting providers store your backups on their servers as well, and many of them suggest downloading your backups manually from cPanel without having their own backup solution.
Backup Plugin Storage Locations
As backup plugins are more advanced and independent, they give you a much bigger choice on where you want to store your backup.
The usual includes Google Drive, Dropbox, your hard drive, FTP, and so on. Some of the best plugins also offer Amazon S3, MS Azure, etc. It’s up to you to decide where you want to store the backups. But it’s always better to use both a cloud solution and a hard drive.
Independence With Hosting Level Backups
If this is the only option you choose, independence might become an issue for you. When something happens to your website because of your hosting provider, laying your only hope on the provider’s website isn’t the best option.
If you still don’t trust plugins, at least make sure to periodically download backups from cPanel.
Independence With Backup Plugins
Even if you’re using a backup plugin created and supported by your hosting provider, this helps you depend on you that company much less.
See, when you get to store your backups wherever you like, it’s already a big step towards independence. Moreover, you have a bigger choice for all backup-related details.
Functionality With Hosting Level Backup
As you may have seen above, hosting level backup is pretty much limited to restore points, with a couple of services also offering automatic daily backups as well as “manual” backups when you get to decide the moment to backup.
The only additional function of hosting level backup that only a few providers offer is the possibility to save all hosting dashboard configurations as well. So you don’t just get your last week’s website back, but also get to manage it the way you did before.
Functionality With Backup Plugins
The most important functionality of backup plugins is that you easily decide what exactly you want to save: files, databases, configs, etc.
The next one is choosing whether you want differential or full-scale backup. Differential backup means you keep the previous versions and only backup recent changes, which is a storage saver. Whereas most backup plugins just offer both options for your choice, hosting-side backups are not differential.
They also allow you to set up a custom backup schedule. With a custom schedule, you decide how often the automatic backups happen, at what time (choose night hours or some other passive time so it won’t affect your traffic), what parts exactly are being backed up, whether it’s differential or full-scale, and so on.
The possibilities are endless. And if you want a feature that none of the plugins provide yet, believe me, some of them are already working on it to win a competitive advantage.
Ease of Use
Ease of Use With Hosting Level Backup
There may be exceptions, but every hosting level backup service I’ve tried was super easy to use. Backups were scheduled automatically and in some cases, and with most of the providers, you couldn’t even configure them if you needed to.
So there’s just a button to restore any of the latest versions, and that’s all you really need.
This is really an advantage that you get for having limited functionality.
Ease of Use with Backup Plugins
Restoring with a backup plugin is usually as easy as from the hosting side: you just click “restore” and choose the version.
But with advanced functionality, comes the full range of features and options. So it becomes a bit more complicated when you haven’t set up everything yet. But then you learn what each of those buttons means and set up everything. Sure, more complicated than from the hosting side, but very, very far from rocket science.
Let’s see what we learned from this comparison so far.
Cost: on average, a separate premium backup plugin costs more than the extra services from a hosting provider. But you can get both free if you do your digging.
Storage locations: you get many more options with a separate plugin, plus you get to choose the storage type: cloud, hard drive, etc. So it’s a win for the plugins.
Independence: you already depend on your hosting provider as it is, and hosting level backups make it double. Separate plugins make you more independent as you rely on more than one company.
Functionality: if you just want to restore points to be safe when testing, hosting level backup is more than enough. But for extended functionality, you need a separate plugin.
Ease of Use: due to limited functionality, hosting level backup is easier to use, so it’s an absolute winner here. Still, plugins are only complicated in comparison; otherwise, they’re also very easy when you get used.
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