The Ultimate BackupBuddy Review: The One Plugin You Should Absolute Have

I’m NOT going to start this BackupBuddy review off with some connived, fake neutral bias where I give you some bullshit question about whether this plugin is good or bad, cover some fake pros and cons I copied from someone else’s thin review, then give a glowing positive recommendation on why you need to buy this program (with my affiliate link plastered all over the place).

Straight up, this is a positive review of BackupBuddy because I LOVE this plugin and I use it all the time for every site I own. If you don’t have the patience to read my 7000 word review on WHY this is an awesome plugin, then you better just top here and leave with that in mind, because THAT is the tone and topic of this review.

This little piece of software is just about the bee’s knees when it comes to how useful it is. I know a LOT about wordpress plugins and themes because I own thousands of dollars of both and I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to finding and using the best plugins and themes.

I’ve decided to write a couple plugin and theme reviews each week in between my other huge posts, just because I feel I know enough about what’s good and what’s crap to help save you guys some time. So expect these type of reviews on a fairly regular basis.

If you don’t have the money to buy BackupBuddy (which the cheapest plan will cost you $80 a year and the most expensive, unlimited lifetime a one time payment of $297) or are unwilling to part with the dough, then you are best off with looking at a FREE backup plugin. BackupBuddy requires you to spend money and if you can’t or won’t do that, then don’t waste your time with this review.  To also save you some time in your search for a great free solution, I can recommend you two FREEMIUM plugins that will allow you do do basic scheduled backups to your local server or a few popular cloud storage locations:  Updraft and BackUPWp.

So…Why Make a Backup?

Still with me here and willing to plow through my detailed review? Great then, let’s move on.

So, why a backup? You may not figure on something like a Backup Plugin being useful. Or necessary.

Until, that is, you actually need a backup.

Then when you realize you don’t actually have a backup and you are forced to use Archive.org and copy and paste your old archived posts — all 400 of them — into a new wordpress install because your host deleted your site by accident or a hacker installed malware on every page, THEN you’ll realize how wrong you were not to have a backup.

If this story sounds like fiction, it’s not. I’ve been there and it’s not fucking funny or fun to deal with.

Fortunately, you can completely avoid this sort of thing if you install a backup plugin on your WordPress. Now, there are a ton of different backup plugins and backup solutions. I wrote a post last year about How to Cheaply Create a Automatic Backup Flow for Your WordPress Sites.

So read that post if you haven’t because it could just save your bacon.

There are various pay-per-month services like Sucuri and CodeGuard which will automatically make WordPress backups for you. And if you have a money making site and you don’t want any sort of headache, then I recommend you just stop here and go with one of those services. They will do everything for you and you won’t have to worry about anything technical, having to pay for a plugin, or having to deal with setting up a backup flow.

Except you are going to have to PAY every month for that hands off approach,which might not be a problem for you. For some bloggers or site owners who just want to focus on writing content and marketing, well, then go that route.

But it is a problem for me, because I’m pretty God damn cheap when it comes to paying per month for unnecessary services that you can do much cheaper on your own.

This is where BackupBuddy comes in. And when it comes to making backups easy, it really is your ‘buddy’ and best friend.

Now, in case you think I’m writing this massive 5000 word post just to convince you to buy it through my affiliate link, let me state right here that there are some viable alternatives — both pay and free. Oh and yes, I do want you to buy from my affiliate link. But if you don’t, that’s fine too.

If you want a basic backup plugin with a good reputation, look at UPDRAFT. I used to use this a few years ago until I found half the time the backups were not going through. But it’s free and it works.

If you want a premium plugin, I recommend BackupBuddy. It’s the best there is and I’ve used MOST of the backup plugins on the market. BackupBuddy wins hands down, every-time. Even better, the iThemes guys are consistently adding NEW updates each and every month to the plugin, so there’s a raft of new features and improvements being added all the time. It keeps on getting better and better.

The Ultimate BackupBuddy Review

This is the last review you’ll ever need to read about BackupBuddy. And if you are still undecided after reading this, well then, I suggest you just go with the free backup plugin Updraft, because there is nothing more you’ll need to know about whether or not you should buy this plugin, or not.

I’m going to take you guys through each part of this plugin and tell you why it’s so good. Even more, I’m also going to give you some tips at the end of the article for how to really use BackupBuddy for best effect, useful BackupBuddy related tricks I’ve learned over the two years I’ve owned the plugin.

The first thing I can say is that in terms of the ‘interface’ BackupBuddy’ delivers in a big way. It’s VERY easy to start making backups for pretty much anyone. It’s also easy to mess around with some of the advanced features too. So for wordpress newbies and the advanced wordpress user, there’s something to offer for both. Not that you should be dicking around with technical stuff when all you want to do is just make a backup. But still, the option is there for those who want to customize and tinker with things.

The Best BackupBuddy Features That Matter

Look, I’m not going to waste my time copying and pasting out all the major features. Go to the website and read about that if you want. However, I’ll list the core things that actually count.

1. Ability to Create Comprehensive Backup Schedules

Basically, you can set up automated backup schedules, completely controlling the WHAT, WHEN, INTERVAL, AND WHERE of each automated backup.

BackupBuddy (and any good backup plugin worth its salt) allows you to create automatic backup schedules. You can specify what to back up (Database or Database + Files) and when to back it up, and Where to back it up. You can also set the frequency.

Here’s an image of the scheduling feature in BB:

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How to Use This Feature

Typically, you’ll want to use this schedule feature to create a number of different backup schedules that cover different backup types (database or full) which will send them to completely different remote destinations to ensure your backups are SAFE and available from many different sources.

2. Ability to Select Different Remote Backup Destinations

Right out of the box, metaphorically speaking that is, BackupBuddy has 5 Cloud backup destinations, an email backup option, FTP, SFTP, and a local backup option.

Here’s what the options are for your backup destinations:

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This means there is no shortage of remote destinations where you can back your stuff up to. For maximum security, you should be using at least 2 different remote sources.

How to use This

You can select some easy-to-access cloud services such as Google Drive (which offers you 25 FREE Gigs of data), Dropbox (2 FREE Gigs), or the BackupBuddy Stash (you get 1 free gig). If you have an Amazon s3 cloud drive account or Rackspace, or a remote server to do an FTP backup to (such as Backupsy), this works too. If you set up a FREE Gmail account for your site and free dropbox, you can pretty much get nearly 30 gigs of cloud-space to store your backups at. This should be enough for MOST medium sized blogs. It talk more about how to maximize your free storage space this at the end of the article.

3. iThemes Stash + iThemes Sync Integration

This is iThemes online integration with BackupBuddy and one of their hard sell feature inclusions to convince you to join their ecosystem.

And mostly, it beneficial and useful, though I will say using Sync + Stash is entirely optional on your part. You can do just fine without using Sync or Stash.

When you buy BackupBuddy, you are given 1 Gigabyte of Stash storage. ‘Stash’ and Backupbuddy are also integrated with iThemes other service, called iThemes Sync. This is basically a multi site manager where you can (for free up to 10 sites) mass update WordPress themes, plugins, manage comments and spam and basically do your housecleaning on ALL your sites with a few clicks. I never really used iThemes Sync, though I’ve had it for nearly two years. Recently though, because I own both BackupBuddy AND IThemes Security Pro, I’ve been using Sync a lot more, especially to update all my plugins and themes. This has saved me a lot of time.

Using the Sync, you can basically from iThemes Sync Dashboard, manage some of your backup activities remotely, to any sites on your Sync that have BackupBuddy installed. You can do the following via your iThemes Sync dashboard for BackupBuddy

  • Create a Backup for your site remotely from Sync at the press of a button
  • Create or delete a backup schedule for your site
  • View all LOCAL backups stored on your site
  • View all backups stored on Stash: you can download these or delete them
  • Download all backups stored on iThemes Stash.

Now you can’t (yet) navigate into the backups and restore or download selected files directly to your wordpress from Sync. You also can’t restore a backup directly from Stash + Sync to your wordpress. You can do both of these directly from your WordPress from the BackupBuddy interface.

It seems likely that these features (since they are included in BackupBuddy) will be added to iThemes Sync in the near future. The reason is that if you can’t access your wordpress (it’s been hacked or you get the dreaded white screen due to some plugin conflict or install error), you can easily restore a previous directly from the Sync Dashboard without having to log into your wordpress, which may be impossible.

WHEN (and IF) that feature is added, I feel the Sync + Stash with BackupBuddy will absolutely outstanding. As of now, it’s mostly just another cloud server to backup your files to, once which allows you some direct control over your backups. However, you can’t restore or modify any backups to your site. Also note the free 1 gig is too small for more than a few backups. A small wordpress install with a premium theme + plugins + picture uploads will range from anywhere from 50 megs to 500 megs. So you may only get a 2 to 20 full backups. It’s enough to keep a steady stream of database backups, however.

4. WordPress Site Migrations / WordPress Backup Restores

One of the most useful features of BackupBuddy, a feature I’ve used at least 30 or 40 times so far, is the ImportBuddy feature.

This is where you can download a special files that you put in the SAME folder as your FULL BACKUP file.

You then navigate to the actual file (i.e. mysite.com/importbuddy.php) and the entire WordPress backup will be restored from scratch IF you are on the same domain + server OR in the case of a new server or new domain, migrate the wordpress install.

This means you can easily move your entire wordpress website from one domain to another domain. If you think about it, there are some pretty compelling options here. This REALLY comes in handy for the following:

1) moving your website to a new domain (for a 301 redirect to a new domain due a domain name change)

2) setting up a test / staging site

3) doing a complete restore of your wordpress install (when things REALLY have gone wrong and you need to restore everything from scratch)

5. BackupBuddy Deployment Feature

backup_deployment

This is a unique feature and as far as I’m aware of, unique to BackupBuddy. It’s also very powerful and can be used for a number of things to better your marketing efforts, as I’ll explain later at the end of the article. It’s also one of my favorite features and almost worth paying for just on it’s own, as a separate plugin. But you don’t have to, since it’s included as part of the BackupBuddy core functionality.

What Is the Deployment Feature

The BackupBuddy Deployment basically allows you to set up a clone of your current live site to a new domain (or a sub domain on your current site).  Now, you can easily create a clone by simply doing a site migration and restoring your backup to a new domain. So there’s nothing special about that (other than you can save some time using Backup Buddy’s site migration).

But where the BackupBuddy Deployment differs is that you can basically ‘link’ up your two cloned sites and push over files and changes from the source site to the destination site or from the destination site to the source site.

Most people use this feature to create a staging site, which is simply a ‘test site’ where you can install plugins and themes to check to make sure there are no issues before pushing those changes to your live site. The awesome thing about this feature is that you can push or pull those changes at the press of a button.

You can:

  • swap databases (roll back to an older or newer database)
  • push or pull a THEME from one site to the other (very useful)
  • push or pull specific files
  • push or pull the entire wordpress

This sort of functionality could be packaged up and charged separately (and likely would be by some), but it’s included as part of the core features in BackupBuddy.

6. Browse & Restore Files from Backup Files Directly

BackupBuddy allows you to step into your backups (either Full Backups or Database backups) via an integrated file manager view and browse your wordpress director OR wordpress database tables and pick out specific files to restore.

This is fantastic when you just need to restore only a single file, set of files, or entire folder without the need to do a full backup restore. Some reasons why:

  • you were playing around with the style.css, messed it up, and need to restore the old file from the backup
  • you deleted a plugin and need to restore
  • you deleted a key wordpress file and need to restore it
  • you messed up one of the database tables and need to restore just that table
  • you deleted or messed up a theme file and need to restore it
  • you modified the .htaccess, broke it, and need to restore it

Here’s a picture of the Browse and Restore Files feature:

brwose and restore

Here’s what it looks like when you browse into a database backup:

dabase

Note that you can click on any of those SQL table files and restore it directly if needed.

Here’s what it looks like when you browse into a FULL backup file which includes the wordpress files:

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Again, you can click on any folder or file (or group of them) and restore ONLY those if you wish.

7. Extra Server Tools

severtools

BackupBuddy also throws in a few useful server tools you can use to keep an eye on your system.

sd

There are five specific tools offered:

Server Configuration: lists various stats related to your server, and gives some suggestions for configurations. Not important, but it’s a good way to see what sort of resources your server has at any given moment.

Database Tables” Checks your tables to see if they are working and shows you a list

Database Mass Text Replacement: This allows you to mass replace TEXT on your entire site. Useful for things like changing link names, the URL in your posts, link URLS, or anything like this. This can be quite useful when you do a site migration and the links have the IP address in them or you need to mass change all site links to the new domain name. This functionality itself is found in full wordpress plugins you can download, so the fact that BackupBuddy includes it saves you an install.

Site Size Maps: Shows you either in list  format or graph format the size of each of your folders and files on your site. Very useful for finding out what’s taking up most of your memory. I use this to DELETE extra folders with stuff I’m not using to minimize backup sizes. To save disk space (and make sure you don’t reach your storage limits on your cloud backup sources), you’ll want to ensure your install is as lean as possible. This tool helps a lot.

WordPress Cron Schedules: This shows you a list of all your Cron Jobs active on your site. Useful to know in some situations (especially for troubleshooting plugin problems) though I suspect not so necessary for the average user. But it’s a good idea to take a look and see what’s going on.

8. Malware Scan 

BackupBuddy also includes a dedicated malware scan tool. While there are more sophisticated scans you can get via 3rd party plugins (including iThemes own iThemes Security Pro or the highly regarded Sucuri plugin), it’s a useful feature to use. I recommend you use it BEFORE making a backup, just to ensure there are no malware installs.

9. Settings

BackupBuddy includes a raft of settings you can modify. You can limit how many backups are stored on the local server, change the permission settings, configure when and how you want to be notified regarding backups, and select what files and folders you want to exclude from being included in any backups. There are also various advanced settings that you can tinker with to improve performance and resolve any plugin or backing breaking errors that sometimes occur. I won’t go into the details.

Which BackupBuddy Pricing to Choose

prices

Now BackupBuddy is a premium plugin and not a free one. There are no stripped down, free version available. No you have to pay to play.

There are different prices. But which is the best??

Hands down, the Lifetime Plan. It’s so worth it, even though the cost may have you sweating a bit at first. And yes, I bought the Lifetime Plan myself, so I’m not just hawking some snake oil that I don’t use myself.

This is a plugin you are going to keep around, trust me. And because it’s one that you probably will be using for years and years, you might as well just pay a one time fee rather than consistent yearly fees.

BackupBuddy is also a plugin that is consistently being updated with new features practically every month. I’ve owned the Gold Plan (lifetime membership) for about a year and a half now, and I’ve seen the plugin go through a number of major updates and changes with lots of new features added. So the plugin & developers & new updates are going to be around for a long time to come.

So once you purchase it, you are going to likely keep it, especially since you’ll likely install it on every single WordPress site you own.

I put this one on every single one of my websites that actually matter. And it’s saved my bacon and a LOT of time more than a few.

$297??! Are You Fucking Crazy?

Actually I’m not. And here’s why.

There are different plans, but if at all you can swing it, I recommend you just go the $297 which gives you access to lifetime updates and unlimited site usage. Now before you run away at the thought of spending so much, here are some reasons why I recommend this over the yearly plans

  • The cheapest plan charges you $80 per year and only gives you 2 sites. If you keep the plugin for 3 years, you’ve almost spent what the default lifetime option would have costed you. And trust me, you WILL keep the plugin for three years because it’s the best backup plugin on the market by far and a plugin I consider essential.
  • The next plan charges $100 for 10 sites. Again, after 2.5 years you could have bought the lifetime and have been done with paying.
  • The Pro plan charges you $150 for unlimited sites. But in 2 years you’ve already spent MORE than the lifetime plan would have costed. Not even worth it.

Now, the good news here is that BackupBuddy is ALWAYS throwing some huge discount practically every month or two. You can easily get 20 percent off with a coupon code and iThemes, if you check their website, seems to regularly offer 30 or 35 percent off discounts on all of their plans. If you join their newsletter, you’ll get a lot of 30 percent off offers spammed to you. I’ve seen 40% of discounts for Black Friday as well and they ran a 60% off sale a few years ago as well (this is rare though).

So you can likely save about 20-30 percent off if you wait for a sale, which brings the lifetime cost down to around $200 or so (I bought my own lifetime plan for 35% percent off).

But I promise you, it’s well worth the cost.

If you can’t afford the lifetime, then look at the $100 per year option WITH a coupon. Or just use a free plugin like UpDraft. However, while you can get buy on the free backup plugins, they don’t really hold a candle in terms of ease of use and features and security compared to BackupBuddy.

What I Like about BackupBuddy

Here’s what I really like about BackupBuddy:

  • Easy to use interface
  • Dead easy to make backups
  • Supports FULL site backups (you can back up the entire site and restore the entire site)
  • Can do full site restores (must download and install an extra file called ImportBuddy)
  • Includes a raft of extra useful features malware scan, server stats, memory scan, database text replacement) that save you from installing extra plugins to do the same
  • Syncs on up iThemes Sync for extra features
  • Includes 1 Gigabyte of FREE Stash
  • Supports the major cloud storage companies (Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon A3, Rackspace)
  • Supports remote FTP, SFTP, and Email backups
  • Allows you to view your backup files in a file manager view and restore individual files or folders at a click
  • Supports Site Migration
  • Includes Redeployment feature (ability to create and control a staging / test site at a button click)
  • Supports backup scheduling with fine grained control about when, where, and what to backup

What I Didn’t Like about BackupBuddy

Despite how awesome this plugin is, there are some things that need improvement and some things I don’t like as well.

1. Stash only includes 1 GB.

With many cloud services throwing you 5, 10, 16, or 25 gigs of FREE storage, 1 GB of free stash space is not enough. BackupBuddy should include 5 GB not a measly 1 GB which is borderline useless if you have more than a couple sites and you want to keep MORE than one or two full wordpress backups at a time.

2. Sync only allows you do make backups, schedule backups, and download backups

This makes the Sync only partially useful at best. If you want to use their Sync dashboard to do updates on plugins, ok, you can use it to make a few manual backups and download those to your local computer. Or you can set up a backup schedule. But still, none of this is necessary and it’s just a feature creep to sell more copies at this point. The real meal of what you should be able to do, remotely with Sync you can’t yet. You can’t:

  • download individual files or folders from the backup file
  • restore the full back or individual files to your site remotely from the sync dashboard
  • restore the full database or specific database tables

So the sync dashboard is pretty limited so far in terms of what you can do. It’s good to have, yes, but mostly it’s completely optional at this point. You are better off just going into your BackupBuddy plugin for your site directly.

3. Missing Some Cloud Storage Options

While BackupBuddy does include some of the popular storage services, they should have a few more options:

  • Microsoft OneDrive
  • Apple iCloud
  • Amazon CloudDrive
  • Box
  • Pdrive
  • Mega
  • Tresorit

Perhaps iThemes will continue to add more integration and support for some of these other drives. However, since it’s not really in iThemes interest to do so since they are selling their own, inferior cloud service integration, I doubt they will put too much effort into adding more free cloud drive services. I would most like to see Microsoft OneDrive and Amazon CloudDrive added — either of these are ridiculously cheap and could likely function as your ONLY needed cloud drive service — and you’d only need to pay about 50-60 bucks a year for terabytes of data storage.

5. BackupBuddy Fails to Backup Sometimes

Occasionally, on some themes or with some plugins, BackupBuddy won’t make a backup. This usually does not happen, but I’ve found this to be the case, especially when you have some caching plugins like W3 installed. BackupBuddy may have issues with actually doing a backup. Now, you will be emailed if the backup fails, so you can easily tell if there is a problem. Still, BackupBuddy does not always play nice with some plugins, especially cache plugins or plugins that create Cron Jobs. You may not run into this issue, but it’s something to keep an eye on.

BackupBuddy may also be problematic for sites on shared hosting with little resources — you may find the Backups fail to complete or errors are thrown. As such, there can be some reliability issues.

6. Only 1 Year of Support

The Ithemes guys give their reasons for this, but I’m not buying it. Liming support to 1 year is just shoddy customer service, especially if you buy the Gold support. They should cap support after the first year to 20 tickets a year or something, but to not offer support after 1 year for people who purchase the Gold plan.

7. Restoring Sites Not as Easy as Backing Them Up

You can create a Full Backup or a Database Backup with a single click.

But you can’t restore backups with a single click.

Restoring either a Full Backup or a Full Database backup requires a lot more work than making a backup. It’s not hard or necessary technical, you there is a process you need to follow. I suspect for most new wordpress users, they will struggle a bit and likely need to watch some of iThemes tutorial videos to figure this out.

If you want to restore a BackupBuddy backup, it’s a bit of a process and certainly not a single click of the mouse.

The flow is typically like this:

  1. You must download the ImportBuddy from within BackupBuddy (or you can grab it from the iThemes website).
  2. You must then download/send your backup file to your destination you want to restore — either your current wordpress directory or a new server/site directory. This may require you to fiddle with an FTP, you can use BackupBuddy’s options to SEND ImportBuddy and also SEND your backup file to your remote destination / restore location from the dashboard.
  3. You must then go to the url where you have sent importbuddy and type in YOURRESTOREWEBSITEADDRESS.com/importbuddy.php to launch to restore tool.

There is another way you can launch the restore / migration directly from the wordpress panel without having to fiddle with FTP, but frankly, it’s not easy to find or understand right off the bat. I’ll talk about how to do this at the end of the article if you are interested.

If you are looking for ONE CLICK BACKUP RESTORES, BB does not offer this. I feel this is one area BackupBuddy should really work on — an easy to see, pre-configured one click restore would make things a lot easier. It’s not hard to restore, but it’s not that newbie friendly either. If you want one click restores, look at something like CodeGuard or BackupVault.

BackupBuddy Alternatives

BackupBuddy ain’t the only kid on the block and as of 2016, there’s a number of perfectly viable alternatives, from pay to free. If you still don’t think BackupBuddy is for you or you are too broke to spend the money, well here are some viable alternatives, including a free backup plugin.

VaultPress

This is probably the biggest direct competitor and does most of what BackupBuddy. However, they store your backups for you on their own servers. Unlike BackupBuddy, however, this service actually does not do COMPLETE backups, so there is a false sense of security there. If you have extra stuff on your wordpress directory, VaultPress won’t automatically back this up — so be very careful. As such, I don’t view it as a complete backup solution like BackupBuddy or CodeGuard. You also pay $99 a year or $199 a year, depending on the plan. There is NO lifetime one time payment plan.

CodeGuard

This is a backup service that integrates with WordPress via a plugin. They basically handle the entire backup and restore process for you — so it’s hand free. You pay per month for this service, and it’s expensive, especially if you don’t buy the cheaper multisite plan they offer. CodeGuard also has the easiest restores — you can restore your site with a single click, unlike BackupBuddy which makes you go through a somewhat complicated process that may involve fiddling with FTP files, putting in server addresses into form boxes, filling out database information and the like.

CodeGuard can also back up ANY site, not just wordpress sites. You don’t need a plugin installed for CodeGuard to backup or restore your site. This avoids problems with wordpress, plugin conflicts, server resource issues, and the like. As such, CodeGuard is a better all round backup solution than BackupBuddy, but it’s far more expensive.

Updraft / Updraft Plus

Probably the best ‘free’ alternative to BackupBuddy is Updraft. It does full backups, database backups, and allows you to schedule backups to a number of remote storage locations (including Dropbox and Google Drive). Even better, it’s free. The Plus version is pay and adds more features. I used to use Updraft, but found BackupBuddy much cleaner with more features and more reliable. BUT, Updraft is a viable option if you can’t afford to pay. The interface is a mess though and confusing as hell, but again, it’s free.

BackWPUp

BackWPUp is another freemium plugin along the lines of Updraft. I’ve never used this one, but it’s got a lot of positive ratings and a lot of good hype about it. It pretty much offers the same features that Updraft gives with a Pro version available (adds more support for cloud storage, such as Google Drive support).

Final Thoughts on BackupBuddy

Overall, BackupBuddy is one of those plugins I consider to be in the Top 5, and it’s a plugin I consider essential.

I use and abuse it and I recommend everyone else who can afford it, pick it up.

The main

I understand that most people may balk at spending anywhere from 80 USD a yearly renewal to $297 for the one time purchase. If you can’t afford it, then at the very least, consider a free alternative plugin like Updraft. It won’t be as easy to use or as feature heavy as BackupBuddy, but you can schedule basic backups automatically and send them off to some of the popular cloud storage companies without touching anything yourself.

Regardless of what you choose, you should NOT have your wordpress site up and running without making regular backups.

If you are interested in buying it, here’s my affiliate link to BackupBuddy. Or here’s the non affiliate link if that’s your fancy.

5 Tips on How to Use Backup Buddy Like a Pro

This is called an Ultimate Review right? And that means we give DEEP content, not just a thin ‘review.’

I have a real issue with many of the so called ‘plugin’ or ‘theme’ reviews I say posted on various wordpress blogs or internet marketing blogs by guys who actually know SHIT ALL about how to make money online.  These shitty reviews are usually just 500 to 100o words of re-hashed information where the writer/marketer simply rewrites the product feature description, then tries to convince you to buy it so they make their commission. But they don’t offer you any VALUE or real information about the product.

That’s not my goal here. I’ve given you a breakdown of the best features and some tips on how to use them, but let’s look at how you can use it. My reward is that maybe you’ll use my affiliate link. But probably you won’t. That’s ok either way — I am actually writing this because it’s such a good plugin and I’ve been wanting to review it for a year now.

1. Make Sure to Create Multiple Free Cloud Storage Accounts

  • Google Drive (25 Gigs): If you sign up for a brand new email account, you get an automatic 25 Gigs. If you have more than one site, I recommend you create a unique gmail account JUST for that website, so you have a full 25 GIG backup. BackupBuddy walks you through exactly how to add Google Drive as a remote backup.
  • DropBox (16 Gigs): While you don’t get as much space as Google Drive out of the box, you get a fair amount and it’s pretty useful.
  • Stash (1 gig): iThemes gives you 1 Gig of Stash which is pretty much nothing compared to the other services. But, you can use it to back up your database files.
  • Amazon S3 FREE Tier (5 gigs)

Between these 3 free cloud storage, you should be able to get at least 47 FREE cloud storage without a penny spent. Likely, in the future this will be even more. So make sure you sign up for these right away. Even better, I recommend you create a unique GMAIL email account for every single one of your sites, so each site has a dedicated 46 Gigs of backup space.

For most purposes, this should be more than enough to do a year or more of FULL Backups every week + daily database backups.

2. Set up a Backup Workflow for 1 Year of consistent backups

As a default ‘safe’ backup, I recommend you go with

  • 1 Full Backup a Week
  • 1 Daily Database Backup

Here’s our calculations:

A medium sized blog is about 500 megs. A photo-heavy blog with hundreds of pages about 2 gigs. A large blog with thousands of pages could be something like 5 gigs.

So counting a small sized blog, that’s about

  • 1 FULL backup = 500 megs
  • once a week backup = 52 x 500 = 26 Gigs.
  • 1 database backup = 50 megs
  • daily backup for a year = 50×360 = 18 Gigs

Total space required: 44 Gigs

So you can just cover this using free gmail, dropbox, Amazon A3 and the Stash account.

Sweet right?

3. Create a Backup Storage Server for a Year of Backups

I also recommend you get yourself a large backup service like Backupsy. You can pick up something like 250 to 1 Terabyte for about 6 bucks a month. Yes, I know you can do it for free using the free cloud services, but it’s not so much to pay about 70 bucks a year for an EXTRA layer of backup security. You can use these storage drives to do server backups to directly and also use it as an extra source for backupbuddy backups.

4. Restore Full Backups or do Full Site Migrations Directly from your WordPress Dashboard

BackupBuddy fails at making it dead easy to actual easily restore your site from a full backup or completely migrate your site to another server/domain. The standard way is to just download the importbuddy script with the zipped backup file and place both on the root directory where you want to restore or migrate your site to. You can do this via FTP or by using BackupBuddy’s SEND feature which allows you to specify a remote FTP location or local server destination.

However, they also have a somewhat hidden feature where you can simply click on a button, fill in a few details, and actually launch a full restore of your site or full site migration and new site setup directly from your wordpress dashboard. This is by far the easiest way to do full restore / full site migration and I’m shocked iThemes doesn’t make this far more easy with a nice big Interface Button on the dashboard.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Go to your list of backups

Hover your mouse over the backup you want to restore or migrate to a new server/domain (see image)

migrate

3  Select the destination (it must be either your LOCAL server destination or an FTP destination). You will need to have set up a REMOTE DESTINATION for this to work. Once you have the REMOTE DESTINATION set up, you simply pick it from the list

remote_des

4. Ensure the server IP destination is correct (ithemes will put in in for you or guess it for you) and click Migrate.

server_info

5. Follow the ImportBuddy windows and instructions which are loaded in to your wordpress dashboard directly.

Now this is hardly a ONE CLICK restore or migrate, but using this feature saves you from having to manually download your backup and importbuddy script, then FTPing it up to your new destination, then navigating to importbuddy file in your URL. So it saves  time — sometimes a lot of time.

It took me months and months before I actually stumbled on this feature, so I’m baffled that iThemes has not made this more easy or clear on how to use, since restoring or migrating a site is such a huge reason WHY you have BackupBuddy installed in the first place!

5. Use iThemes Sync

Ithemes offers you 10 free sites to use with their Sync plugin / service and it completely integrates with BackupBuddy. While you don’t necessarly need to use their wordpress theme / plugin update features, especially if you only manage one site, you can use it to easily track your backups, create a backup remotely, or download a backup — without needing to actually login to your wordpress.

And hey, it’s completely free.

6. Use BackupBuddy to set up a Staging Site for A/B Split Testing on Themes

I’ve already talked about this, but it’s a good idea, especially if you only have a couple medium sized or large sized blogs, to create a mirror staging site. I personally don’t bother using such a site to test plugin updates or WordPress updates on before pushing them live to the source site, BUT if you are an internet marketer, you can really use to do Split Testing on themes.

How to use the Deployment Feature to A/B Split Test Themes

The benefits of creating a staging site to test out new themes and plugins is obvious, or keeping a mirror site that’s completely the same as your current site, one you can easily push a change over to fix problems with your live site (such as an update gone wrong or a hacked site fix). If you don’t know what a test site or staging site is, read this.

For most small websites though, this is simply too much effort to create a staging site (it’s a waste of your time when your site is small). You won’t want a staging site unless you are a developer working on a client’s website OR you have a large site with lots of content, lots of traffic, and you need to make sure any changes don’t break the site.

But another interesting thing you can do is use this feature to A/B Split Test entire THEMES or structural changes on your live site with the ability to roll back to your old theme at the push of a button if the new theme shows as LESS effective than the new one at pushing sales/ad clicks/conversions.

Your THEME can dramatically affect your bottom line conversions, especially with programs like Adsense. I’ve seen HUGE differences in CTR based on themes designs, so this is something you should actually test out.

For example, you want to change your theme but you are worried your Adsense, Affiliate Sales, or Sales will be affected by the new design. You can painlessly test this out without messing things up by first making a backup of your live site with BackupBuddy, then set up your new theme on your staging site, then when ready, push over the change on your staging site to your live site, which will put the new theme and all the change to that theme live. You can then test out the theme. If you want to revert to your old theme and all the custom changes you made (such as widgets arrangement, etc), you can simply RESTORE your previous backup and your old theme and site is live again.

Why can’t you just switch themes instead?

You can, but you often need to configure the widget section, adjust specific menu settings, reorder page content slightly, move things around. Even though some broad changes are saved when you switch between themes, you will still have to go back and adjust things, which takes time and is a pain in the ass.

If you use a the BackupBuddy Deployment to do this, you just hit a button to upload all the changes from your staging site to your live site, and you can revert those changes back to your old site (and theme layout) with a click of the button.

The Final Word

So that’s all I have to say about BackupBuddy in my 7000 word ultimate review of it. I’ve listed everything you will need to know and give you some tips on how to use it — some things it might take you a few months (or longer) of using BackupBuddy before you figure out the same.

I hope you found this review useful. Feel free to ask me questions about BackupBuddy in the comment section. I will be writing a comprehensive comparison of the Top WordPress Backup Plugins where I compare them against each other for you guys.

Ben K

  • Usefulness
  • Ease of Use
  • Price
  • Reliability
  • Frequency of Updates
4.2

Summary

Overall, the best wordpress backup plugin you can buy. It's consistently updated with new features being added by the iThemes team (I'd say several new features each year + lots of minor updates and bug fixes).

The interface looks good and is easy to use. It also integrates nicely into iThemes Stash + Sync (you need to install the iThemes Sync plugin), but besides the basic ability to download backups and create backups remotely, you cannot restore backups from the iThemes Sync, which makes it very limited at this point.

I'm not a fan of the price -- you get value for it, if you are willing to shell out $200-$297 for the Gold package (lifetime updates for one payment); but the other pricing schemes are too expensive in my opinion. I feel the plugin should be charged more along the lines of $97 for the lifetime. However, the price is what it is and even if you shell out $200 or so for the lifetime, it's worth it. Don't go with the other pricing packages -- I don't feel those are worth the cost.

Despite the high price, you will get a lot of value from this plugin. Absolutely worth it in the end. But it will cost you. Still, Backupbuddy will save your bacon when you need it savesd, especially if you have multiple sites.

Sending
User Rating 0 (0 votes)

Comments 6

  1. Leha Carpenter May 15, 2016
    • BenK May 15, 2016
  2. Leha Carpenter May 15, 2016
    • BenK May 17, 2016
  3. Bernhard November 7, 2016
    • BenK November 7, 2016

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