Backing up Your Website and Moving to a Different Web Host
Backing up Your Website
You've built your affiliate marketing website.
Perhaps it was just the first and now you have several.
They represent your hopes and dreams of a secure financial future. You've put hours, months or even years of work into them.
How would you feel if you lost it all tomorrow?
Which is why having a reliable backup and restore plan in place is essential.
Your Web Host's Backup
Most reliable web hosts back up your websites every day on their servers and keep those backups for several days.
But there are some issues with relying on this alone.
You web host probably backs up your websites once a day, typically in the evening when traffic is lighter. But what if you've just spent 4 hours creating and publishing your best post ever? It may be a full day away from being backed up by your web host. But you can back it up right now.
Some web hosts have been known to cut off access to your site if you are in dispute with them, irrespective of who's in the right. Having your own backup gives you the upper hand, as you can always use it to transfer your website to another web host. That can be more difficult if your web host is also your domain name registrar. That's why I like to keep them separate.
Another Question of Timing
What if you've let your payment to your web host lapse and have simply forgotten about this particular website? It's not a dispute, but your website is simply gone and there is no way of getting it back,
Your Website's Been Hacked
Any website can be hacked, typically through a weakness in a plugin. The hack can prevent you from accessing it and it can, for example, redirect visitors to another site or to a number of other sites by rotation. Your chances of getting help from any of those sites are slim to none.
Your only hope is to restore from backup.
You may be able to do this from your web host's backup - but not if the hack got into your site before the oldest backup. And if it's a Trojan, that will almost certainly be the case.
But if you've got your own backup, you're set.
How to Do Your Own Backup
There are several plugins for backing up your website. I use All in One WP Migration and have used its Restore facility many times with no problems. That's the acid test. Can you restore?
Other plugins may be fine, but All in One WP Migration works for me and I find it versatile and easy to use, so it's the one I'm going to be concentrating on.
Installing and Activating All in One WP Migration
Go to Plugins and click the Add New button. Search for all in one wp migration.
Click Install and then when the installation has finished, click the Activate button.
Now if you look at your site's WordPress menu on the left-hand side, you should see a new entry All-in-One WP migration and if you hover your mouse pointer on that, you'll see the sub-menu:
Export means you want to backup your site.
Import means you want to restore your site from a backup file.
Backup shows the number of backup files that currently exist on the server and allows you to delete them (more on that later).
Settings. The default settings are fine.
Is All in One WP Migration Free?
All in One WP Migration is free for backup, no matter what the size.
It's free to restore from backup files up to 128MB (which would be a very small site). However, you can install a free update that increases that to 512MB and a paid update that increases it to unlimited.
You can get the unlimited update from servmask.com at a cost of $69. It can be used on any number of websites.
Note that you only need it if you need to restore from a backup file larger than 512MB.
Which means you may never need it.
How to Create a Backup
It's super simple. Click on All-in-One WP Migration and then Export.
The top button Add allows you to replace some text throughout your website and to create a backup that includes the text replacement.
So you won't use it if all you want is a backup.
But, for example, suppose you were selling your site to a third party, you were both Amazon affiliates and your site was full of Amazon affiliate links. You could give your buyer the backup file for them to restore to their own web host, but with all your Amazon affiliate ids replaced by theirs.
For a normal backup, just click on the Export To button.
You will then see a number of possible destinations to send the backup file to.
I like having my backups on my local hard disk, from which I can copy them to a flash drive for additional safety if I wish, so I always choose File as the destination.
As soon as you choose the destination, the export will start, keeping you up to date with a progress report.
Note that the backup has been created on your web host's server, in a backup folder associated with your site.
When you click on the Download button, the file will start downloading to your computer's local drive.
At that point of time, you can click on the Close button.
Restoring from a Backup
Any backup plug-in is only as good as its Restore function.
And you don't want a real-time emergency be the first time you check it out.
So let's go through using All-in-One WP migration to restore a website from a backup file it previously created. We'll use it in a real life situation to transfer a website from one host to another, backing up the site on the source host and restoring it to a new, empty site on the destination host.
Keeping Multi-Generational Backups
Backup Files created by All-in-One WP Migration have the extension .wpress with the first part of the file name containing the domain name.
I create one after I make any change to my website that I'd hate to lose. I download the backup file to my local hard disk in a folder associated with my website and keep three generations, deleting the oldest after a new one has been created and stored.
Clearing Out Old Backups
As well as maintaining three backup generations on my local hard disk, I retain the latest backup (only) on the web server.
To do this, click on All-in-One WP Migration in your site's WordPress menu and then Backups. This will show the backup files being stored on the server. If there are more than one, delete all but the latest. (Click on the 3 vertical dots to the right and select Delete).
Moving to a Different Web Host
I have a new website that I've created on another web host, done a backup and will restore it to a new, empty site.
Important: Make sure you have a record of this site's username and password. You will need them to get into the new site after the restore has been done.
Point the Domain to the New Web Host's Servers
DNS propagation takes some time, so we may as well do it first.
The domain name is hosted at Namecheap, so we go into the Manage Domain section and change the nameservers to point to the new web host. Propagation starts as soon as we click Save but can take 24 hours or more.
Create a New, Empty WordPress Site at the New Host
How you do this depends on the web host, but most make it single click easy.
Just make sure you use the domain name of the site being transferred.
If you're offered a choice of themes, select any one. It doesn't matter which, as the theme will be replaced by the original website's theme when we restore it. This is the nature of the restore. Everything is restored, including the theme, the pages, the posts, the menus and the plugins.
Once your new, empty WordPress website has been built, go to your new site's admin area and log in. Note that you may have to wait until domain name propagation is complete before you can log in. If propagation is not complete, you will get a 404 Page Not Found message.
The only plugin you need on the new site is All-in-One WP Migration.
Other plugins may have been added by your web host's installer. That doesn't matter, as the restore will replace all the plugins with the ones that are installed on the website you are transferring.
Of course, you can change that after the restore if you wish. After the restore has completed, you can do whatever you want with the website, as if it had been built on the new web host.
Import from Backup
From the left-hand menu, select All-in-One WP Migration >> Import. Then click on File.
Select the backup file previously created.
You can select the file by double-clicking on it or by highlighting it with a single click and then clicking on the Open button.
As soon as you do so, the restore will start and will show a progress message. Now it's time to sit back and wait. Have patience.
Important Note: A restore takes much, much longer than a backup.
When the import has finished, click the Proceed button to complete the process.
The warning about ensuring that you have a backup has always struck me as strange, since it's a backup you're restoring from! I guess they're just making sure they have all their bases covered.
Important: Don't forget that once the restore is completed, your admin username and password will be the ones associated with the original site, not the new ones assigned when you built the new empty site.
Again, be patient, there's lots of complex stuff happening behind the scenes. After you click the Proceed button, there will be a pause then some progress messages as your new (old) website is being updated.
The final message you will see invites you to click on the Finish button.
You can ignore the other two optional invitations. Click on the Finish button and you're done.
At the end of this lesson, you should
- Understand the importance of being able to backup and restore your website
- Have installed the WordPress plugin All in One WP Migration
- Have backed up your website and downloaded the backup to your computer
- Understand that you can restore your site if necessary and that it may require a paid upgrade to the plugin.