#8.10 Test our Blog Backup: What good is it if the backup doesn’t work?

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Welcome to Blog Section #8 Behind the Scenes Blog Tools-Topic 10 Test our Blog Backup. This is Simplify Technology Blog, so I am going to do my best here to help you through the testing process. I have searched for steps from beginning to end on how to test . . . I encountered complete frustration. But I still think there has to be a way for us to test our backup. I have been backing up my computer for years and testing the backup. There has got to be a way for a blog!

Yes there is a way. In Blog #8.04 we installed a free plugin to automate our backups. In this blog I will take you through my journey of how I FINALLY tested my backup!

Panic - blog backup does it wor

My worry is simple: how do I know the backup works? I want to see it. And I mean I want to see my website completely reproduced — not just see the list of files backed up. I want to be sure! I want to know that if something bad happens and I need to restore my website from my backup that the backup will be good and work.

When I back up a spreadsheets or documents, I can pull them up from the backup drive … there they are. Good. OK, backing up an entire website is more complex with many different types of files, but there is a solution. So, stay with me and let’s TEST our backup!

keyboard with -hope- button for blog backup

We already performed a Blog Backup

In Blog #8.04 we backed up with Updraft.

  • We installed UpdraftPlus plugin.
  • We chose the schedule so the plugin would automatically back up for us.
  • We chose to send it to a remote storage so we have a backup that is separate from our hosting site.
  • By typing in our email, we are alerted when the backups happen.
  • Updraft plugin states: “The above directories are everything, except for WordPress core itself which you can download afresh from WordPress.org.”
  • So, we should be safe . . .  right?

Get the tools to TEST our Blog Backup

If you have read my blog, you will know that I believe in being frugal. Let’s not spend a lot of money if we don’t need to. Now, however, is the time I am going to spend some money. The plugin is free, but we will need to buy an additional “migrating” add-on OR we will need to buy the Premium plugin. I am choosing to purchase the Premium plugin because I think it is so important to test our backup. It could mean the difference between recovering our website if something bad happens or losing a substantial piece of our website.

P.S. I am NOT getting paid anything for using and writing about Updraft. I used the free plugin and ultimately emailed the author David specific questions about testing my backup. I was impressed that he answered me . . . several times both before I purchased and after I purchased . . . and he QUICKLY answered me! He also said that once I purchased the plugin, he would help me if I needed help. Here are the locations to purchase the Premium plugin or the add-on:

  1. After you choose which to purchase, Updraft will give you instructions on how to install the add-on or Premium (from here on out I will just refer to Premium).  The first thing you do is install the Premium plugin on your Main website (we will later also install Updraft Premium on our test site).
    • The instructions are step-by-step. They have you delete the free plugin and upload the premium plugin.
    • After you upload the premium plugin, you connect to your Updraft account that you set up when you purchased the plugin.
  2. Let’s now make a backup:
    1. Left side under Settings   Updraft Plus Backups.
    2. You will see the UpdraftPlus Backup/Restore screen. Click Backup Now.
    3. If you need help with backup, see Blog #8.04.

Have a place to TEST the Blog Backup

In addition to reassuring ourselves that we have a good backup and that we ARE protecting our site, another reason to test is that we are going to get familiar with what it takes to restore our site if something bad does happen.

To begin, we need a place to test our backup. See Blog #18.02 and Blog 18.03 where we bought another domain.

  • The cost is minimal and Blue Host will host the second domain at no additional cost. So, you will then have a place to TEST your blog backup!
  • I went the way of purchasing a second domain name because I wanted another domain name for a shorter email.  But you can check with your host to see if you can make a sub domain for testing without purchasing another domain.
  1. Go to Blue Host and log in.
  2. Review Blog 18.03 and make sure this second domain is an Add on.
    • Note on the Blue Host domain manager screen, the words Add  on will appear.


Install WordPress on the new test domain

  1. Now click Hosting at the top and then cPanel.
  2. Scroll down to the grey area titled Website Builders.
  3. Click on Install WordPress.
  4. You will get a new page.
  5. Next to the WordPress logo, click Install .
  6. A new screen will say: Select which domain you would like to install to:
    • Choose http://your new test domain.com and click Check Domain
    • note: there are two different types of choices depending on if you set up to use www or not.
  7. Click that you read the terms and Click Install Now
  8. You may get a message: “Oops. Looks like something already exists there. I understand that this will overwrite the files.” Click the box next to the message.
    • Why would you get this message? I asked Blue Host directly. They said when you first set up a domain, they automatically put some default files in there, but to go ahead and click the box to overwrite.
  9.  click Install Now.
  10. You will get a message at the very top of the new pages with advertisements. It should say “Installation is Complete”.
  11. ** IMPORTANT: click on the View credentials and write down your user name and password. You need it in a couple of steps.
  12. Logout of Blue Host.
  13. Login to your new testing domain with your new user name and password.
    • Remember, you can just type in the domain name then /wp-admin.
  14. Now Install Updraft Premium on this testing domain.

Ready . . . Set . . . Let’s Test!

The help page from Updraft states: “Migrating your site . . . is not about restoring your site into the same web space it was in before. Migrating is especially useful if you want to clone a site for testing …” Yes! That’s what we are looking for. You can read David’s instructions or keep reading for my summary of his instructions.

  1. You are still at your test domain site – in WordPress. Left side click SettingsUpdraft Plus Backups
  2. You are on the Updraft screen. Click Restore.
  3. Click Upload Backup files
  4. A dotted box will appear.
  5. Click Select Files and press Open or Drop and Drag the files (find the files on your hard drive, Dropbox, wherever you put them)
    • I had 5  files:  plugins.zip; themes.zip; uploads.zip; others.zip
    • The 5th file I had to drag and drop:  db.gz.  I did have some issues before so I make sure the db.gz file is the last file brought over.
  6. The time it takes will depend on the size of your backup and speed of connection. Mine was done in under 5 minutes.
    • When done, go to the bottom right of this dotted box, click Restore.
  7. A new screen will appear:
    1. Check all  boxes.
      1. Note if this doesn’t work because you have a large website, you may need to restore the database separately and last (db.gz file).
    2. Check the new indented box Search and replace site location in the database.
    3. Click Restore.
  8. Wait a minutes. You should then receive a message: “The backup archive files have been successfully processed. Now press Restore again to proceed.”
    • It will state the name of the website that it just backed up.
    • Click Restore.
    • Now wait a few minutes until a new screen is produced.
  9. Scroll to the very bottom of the report. When it is done, you should get “Restore successful“.
  10. You will need to log back in.
    • Here’s the twist: Log in with your user name and password from your MAIN Domain! Why? Because that is where the data came from!
    • Down the road when you do this process again, you will login with your Main domain password (as opposed to this first time when we just installed WordPress and had a new password).  So at the end you will still be logged in.
  11. Now check out the front-end of your test website.
  12. HAPPY !!!
    • You should see that your test site looks exactly like your Main site.
  13. Important Steps:
    1. In your test site, go in to Updraft settings and change to manual backup.  Save Changes
      • You don’t want this test site to be backed up. That will just create needless files and cause confusion.
    2. As a clean up step: Click Delete Old Directories at the top of the screen.
    3. Another Clean up step: click Existing Backups tab
      1. It will list the backups in an area below.
      2. Click Delete to delete these backup zip files.
      3. I have talked to the plugin’s author. I am not sure why, but it is not deleting all the zip files. So I go in to Blue Host, find the subdirectory of my test site. Burrow down to the Updraft subdirectory. Find the zip file and delete it.

REMEMBER: Both your Main website and your test website now have the same user name / password. So, get in the habit of looking at the exact URL you are working on. You don’t want to accidentally be in your test site when you think you are in your Main site.


One more lesson I learned

I started getting “error” messages. So, I emailed David at Updraft. I went to my hosting company and looked at the guts of my website; I looked at my backup files sitting out on the host. Here’s what happened if you want the techy background. If not, just skim and go to the solution:

  1. When I created an add-on domain for my test site … the host puts it as a sub-directory of my main site.
  2. Problems:  When I thought I was doing a backup of my “main” site, I was really doing a backup of my main site and AND my backup test site since all the files were in the same area at the my host. No wonder my backups were taking longer and longer.
  3. Solution: exclude the sub-directory that is holding your test site. Here’s how: in the section that shows what to exclude in the backup, type a comma and then the name of your subdirectory (i.e. the test site name).
    • So if you named your test site domain testsite you would type     testsite  on the exclude line.

So many steps, but we made it through the process and we have now tested our backup!

See you next time as we continue to work through some complex issues and

try to Simplify Technology …


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About Barb Brady

I am on a journey to Simplify Technology. I have a CPA and an MBA and have spent years in the Accounting profession (… don’t use that against me). One of the things I have done countless times is document steps to learn; they are about Blogging, Apps, Excel, etc. I am blogging my “how-to’s” and hopefully, this will help you . . . and you can then chime in so we can help each other. Join me!

Comments We are Helping each other Simplify

  1. Hey Barb,

    It’s been ages since I’ve been by your blog my dear, wanted to stop by and see what you were up to these days.

    I hope this year has started off okay for you but I know your busy time will be upon you soon enough.

    As you might recall, although it’s been some time now, I’ve tried different plugins for backing up my blog and for some reason they would work just fine and then just stop emailing me the files. I really didn’t want to invest in a plugin knowing that I can do this manually and it doesn’t take any time at all.

    That’s what I’ve been doing for probably the last couple of years and although I haven’t tested out my backup I know it works because I’ve had to restore it a few times already. Never a fun scenario of course but that’s why we back it up right!

    Great share and I’ve never heard of this plugin so I might have to check it out.

    Enjoy what’s left of this week and great to see you again.

    Adrienne recently posted…5 Reasons Your Blog Will Fail This YearMy Profile

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