WP Time Machine – free off-site backups for WordPress

A few days ago, @bakkel tweeted about WP Time Machine. This WordPress backup solution turned out to be exactly what I’d been looking for. It gathers all the relevant bits (like your blog’s database, uploaded images, etc) and uploads them to Dropbox, Amazon’s S3 or FTP. It even adds a file with comprehensive restore instructions. I’ve argued before that backups need to be absolutely painless, and with this plugin they are.

Dropbox

I’d recommend setting the plugin to use Dropbox. Their free subscription only offers 2 GB of space, but as long as you’re not creating daily backups in seperate folders, that should be plenty. And you probably don’t need seperate folders because Dropbox keeps a 30-day file revision history. My site’s backup files take up around 70 MB of my 2 GB, and I’m able to restore previous versions, up to a month old, through Dropbox’s interface.

A somewhat eccentric options page

Setting up the plugin is very easy, but the options page is a little awkward. For some options, it show a clickable link that toggles the setting to whatever it isn’t currently. There’s no indication of the option’s current state, except that it’s not what the link says. In my opinion, this is poor usability, and I’d really love for the author to change the options page to simply use radio buttons or checkboxes.

Setting up recurring backups

This is the hardest part. The plugin has an option to create a new backup every time a new post is published, but in most cases this is not ideal. The alternative is to set up a cron job on your server. Most hosts allow you to do this, but it can be a little tricky to get up and running. The plugin’s website has a guide on how to set up a cron job, but I think this should probably be made easier.

That being said, WP Time Machine is the best free solution I’m aware of for backing up your WordPress install. It does more that the typical database-only backup plugins, and storing backup files off-site adds extra security. Recommended.

7 Comments

  1. Hello, Roytanck!
    I think this plug-in is the most power of the his competitors on WordPress.
    But i’m interested in such question: what a data transfer protocol is used to uploads backup to other external ftp(etc)? Is it sftp(over ssh) or simply ftp ?

    Comment by root — November 12, 2010 @ 1:26 pm

  2. I’m not sure, but I guess it’s plain FTP. You should probably ask the author.

    Comment by Roy — November 12, 2010 @ 1:40 pm

  3. Ok. thanks. Вut its true, it’s not quite meet the safety requirements.

    Comment by root — November 12, 2010 @ 1:48 pm

  4. My hosting offers something similar to this that is also free. I will tell you one thing I am a firm beliver in backing up your files, not only onsite but I also do backups offsite too.

    Comment by Baby Gates — December 25, 2010 @ 7:56 am

  5. Just wondering if anyone knows how WP Time Machine compares with BackBuddy? (BackupBuddy isn’t free, but it enables you to create periodic backups.)

    Thanks, Andrew

    Comment by Andrew Davis — January 9, 2011 @ 11:29 pm

  6. I’ve been using WP Backup to email a copy of the database to a gmail account for a while now which works well. At least it means you have a copy of all your content, although you still have to install plugins and stuff anything goes seriously wrong with your install or you get hacked.

    I’ll take a look at this though at it looks like it does all that too.

    David

    Comment by David — January 28, 2011 @ 2:49 pm

  7. Link: The Best Free WordPress Backup Plugin I’ve Found — Ikiru Design