Does anyone know the exact steps of how to back up an entire site and update the site to a newer version of WordPress. My client's site hasn't been updated in over 2 years due to previous self-host issues. I was told by a WordPress expert to update the site to the newest version of WordPress and just keep the site managed but on my client's site it says to back up all info on the site then update it because data may be lost if not backed up before the update. I need easy steps on how to back up and update effectively without losing data. Thanks

2 Answers 2


To backup your website, you have 2 options.

1- use a plugin such as BackUpWordPress. The installation and FAQ on the download page is pretty self explanatory.

2- to back up your website manually, you need to have access to your host's panel, whether it's cPanel or DirectAdmin, or ...

Log into the panel, and find the database management section. Open it. You will see a list of databases in the left sidebar. Remember the name of your WordPress's database. Now from the top navigation bar, choose Export and select the database that belongs to your website. If the database is huge, you can choose a compression method such as gz to reduce the download size.

Once you have backed up the database, head back to your panel. Find the file management and open it. Now choose the WordPress's installation folder, and backup a folder names wp-content inside it. don't forget to also backup the wp-config.php file inside the root folder.

If you want to be more secure, you can backup the entire root folder of your WordPress's installation by selecting it, compressing it using file manager, and then downloading it.

Automatic update : After you backed up everything, you can simply use the admin panel of WordPress to update the core to latest version. You might also be asked to update the database too, which is an automatic process and won't take long.

Manual update : To update your installation manually, remove the folders named wp-admin and wp-includes inside the root folder of WordPress, then download and extract a fresh copy of latest WordPress to your root folder, and overwrite every file. Now head over to admin panel and update the database. You are done.

  • Would I have to put the site under maintenance in order to do the update and back up or just let the site keep running for the users?
    – user112791
    Feb 8, 2017 at 20:31
  • You are welcome. If you are backing up, there is no need for maintenance mode (mostly), and if you are using automatic update, the maintenance mode will be activated automatically. However, while using the manual mode, your WordPress installation will not work anymore because you deleted the core files already. You can simply add an empty index.html to your root folder and remove it after the update.
    – Johansson
    Feb 9, 2017 at 3:16

Unable to comment, due to low Reputation Points but to follow on from Jack Johansson, you can also use a free piece of software, called 'FileZilla' This will give you access to your webs files and allow you to download said web files to a folder on your computer. Just to re-iterate, FileZilla will only download your web files. You will still need to download your MySql Database as outlined by Jack Johansson.

p.s ... As for your comment on whether you need to put your website 'Under Maintenance', you shouldn't have to as the files will upload fairly quickly. Depending on your update, you may find any logged in users may get logged out but that would happen if you put your website 'Under Maintenance' anyway.

  • Regarding FileZilla; several years ago I stopped using that because the credentials were stored on the local computer in a plain text file. I dropped them for that risk that they refused to fix. Feb 9, 2017 at 2:04
  • Which credentials are you referring to? This is news to me, unless you are referring to the 'wp-config.php' file? I am aware that this file has the Database Credentials.
    – Craig
    Feb 9, 2017 at 2:51
  • Sorry for the fuzziness.....all of the sites (FTP connections) used by FileZilla have the user/pass/location in a plain text file on the computer. Not encrypted, plain text. Again, this was several years ago; I stopped using it and have not looked at it since. But, as a infosec guy, I was not pleased; and they refused to consider it a problem. Blogged about it in 2012: securitydawg.com/insecure-filezilla-ftp-program . Don't know what they do in current version; they are on my personal "never go there again" list. Feb 10, 2017 at 7:11

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