I’ll make it quick: At the end of the day, there’s only one person who’s responsible for your backups, and that’s you.
Here’s the deal. WordPress does not have a 100% backup everything tool. Neither does Drupal nor Joomla.(All three of the big guys have plugins that can do this, don’t worry, I’ll get to that in a minute.) In fact, I don’t know of any app on the web that does. Even though Google says “You own your data!”, if you use their tool to download everything, it’s not in a form you can just slap back on the web. Their backups remain tied to themselves. You get the data, but then you have to parse it.
This brings up a bigger question, though. What is the point of a backup? In a worst-case world, your backup is to save your bacon for when you screw something up. It’s to restore from a crisis or to roll back a bad change. So why aren’t these sorts of things built into applications?
When you think about it, they’re not built into any application. From Microsoft Word to your favorite Twitter app, if an upgrade breaks something, there’s no ‘roll back’ option. You can uninstall and reinstall, but most of the time that means you have to reconfigure all your favorite settings.(This is actually why I try to make as few special config changes as possible.) Yes, in Microsoft Office, you can save your ‘document’ in total, but that isn’t a direct analog to Web Publishing, because there’s far more than ‘just’ your book, there’s all those settings and preferences. If you’ve ever tried to copy someone’s preferences and settings from one computer to another (and you’re not on a Mac, who makes that shockingly easy) you know what I mean.
The best backup tools are things like Microsoft’s cloud backup, or Apple’s Time Machine. Both make a massive copy and then incremental updates to your entire computer. They are, as we say, OS (Operating System) backups. All your documents, all your applications, all your settings, are backed up. No individual application has ever bothered with this so why should a web app?
The argument goes that you should be able to pick up your web app and put it down on another server via exporting. I can think of one app off the top of my head that can do that: Cpanel. I’ve never tried it myself, but I’ve been told it works pretty well. Still, Cpanel actually falls under the weird realm of operating systems, as it’s really a server management tool. It’s where you logically expect to see things like your backup tools, db access, etc etc and so on and so forth.
In short, it’s the right place to see your backups made.
How do you backup a webapp?
Step 1) Backup ALL the files on your server.
Step 2) Backup all your databases.
That’s kind of it. For most well written apps (WordPress, Drupal, etc) to ‘restore’ these backups, you just copy them back up. For the database stuff, you may need to make a second database and edit your files to point to that DB instead of the original, but it’s pretty fast. Professionally, we have one-click rollbacks installed on databases, but even then, we tend to go ‘Oh, that didn’t work.’ and rename the NEW DB (databasename_date_BAD) and re-upload the old one. Why? Because it works. When the DBs are too big, we have incremental backups and rollbacks set up. Files ditto (actually for files, we ALWAYS have step one ‘make a copy of the old folder structure…’ and the rollback is just renaming things).
We rarely rely on the applications themselves to perform these tasks for one simple reason: They’re BAD at it.
I’ve always been an advocate of the right tool for the right job. A web app is good at its job. A backup tool is good at its job. The two may cross, but there’s nothing wrong with using a backup tool to make backups and a writing tool to write. I don’t use any plugins on my apps to make backups, I do it via the tools built into my server that are, expressly, for making backups. Ditto my computers at home. I know what the right tool is, and I use it.