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Backupbuddy

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19th May, 2018

Backupbuddy
By iThemes

Backupbuddy is currently the most popular backup solution for wordpress. Lets see how it stacks against the competition..

Functionality chevron-down

Once installed, Backupbuddy will give you two backup options – database only and full backup. I recommend doing the full backup for the first time unless your website is very large. It will also show you past backups you have created.

Backupbuddy dashboard
Backupbuddy dashboard

The actual backup creation process is pretty straightforward. Backupbuddy will show you the steps taken to create a backup and once done, it will ask you to download the backup zip file.

If there are any errors, it will update the status log with the error code which you can look up in their error pages.

Backupbuddy backup process error
Backupbuddy backup process error

Once you take a backup, go to the Sidebar > Backupbuddy > Restore/Migrate and download the importbuddy.php file. It will ask to set a password after which you can download the importbuddy.php file.

To restore, paste both the backup zip file and the importbuddy.php file in your root webserver directory. For this example, lets say you paste these two files in you local webserver which you can access at localhost. Now go to localhost/importbuddy.php. A webpage will open up asking for the password you set earlier. Once done, it will guide you through the process. You just need your database name, user and password to complete this guide.

An important thing to note: All backup zip files are stored inside your wp_uploads folder. Making multiple backups will increase the size of this folder exponentially. If you’re running out of space, just delete older backups from the Backupbuddy dashboard.


There are some really useful features in here.

  • The backup creation screen shows the status of the backup process. This is nice – not many backup plugins show this so you can never estimate how much time the backup creation process is gonna take. Also, it saves logs
  • You can exclude files and folders from your WordPress installation. I recommend excluding folders of themes you’re not going to use again as this can speed up the backup creation process. For developers – if you have node_modules, bower_modules, etc folders in your theme directory, exclude them as they most certainly will crash the backup creation process.
  • There’s also a bonus malware scanner provides which is powered by Sucuri.

Support chevron-down

iThemes, the company behind BackupBuddy provides general support for all their products throught their support portal Backbupbuddy provides support via their forums. iThemes, the publisher offers paid support for all their plugins including Backupbuddy but it is pretty expensive at $47/month.

Whenever something doesn’t work, backupbuddy generates an error code which you can use to lookup a solution here. This is pretty good except that I’ve found the error code to be useless in practice as most solutions are pretty vague. In the end, you’ve have a better chance finding answers on stackoverflow, reddit, etc.

Manual backups chevron-down

Since the backup zip files contain the entire wordpress directory you don’t need the importbuddy file to restore if you’re having problems. The only problem is that Backupbuddy will create multiple .sql files which can be a pain to restore. To mitigate this, go to Sidebar > Backupbuddy > Settings > Advanced Settings and uncheck ‘Use separate files per table’.

Unless you’ve got a massive backup and your webserver keeps getting timed out unzipping the files, this won’t be a major issue. In any case, you can always restore your BackupBuddy backups manually.


Having said that, Backupbuddy doubles up as an excellent migration tool. Use it to quickly push your development site onto a new server. Because it changes the urls of the database correctly, this process is very straightforward compared to say, exporting your database > converting urls using peach and then importing them in your new server > transferring over the wordpress files using ftp.

Gotchas chevron-down

Backup plugins for WordPress take up a fair amount of technical resources to develop. This also means there are certain scenarios where Backupbuddy won’t work.

Some hosting companies have banned Backupbuddy. They are:

  • WpEngine
  • Flywheel hosting
  • Pagely

Also, some hosts may slow down BackupBuddy’s backup creation process. This is most likely due to the exec() function’s usage which is disabled by default on many webhosts.

This is what BackupBuddy says about this in their faqs:

We’ve worked to ensure that BackupBuddy works flawlessly with the large majority of hosts, including shared hosting with limited resources (BackupBuddy includes a multitude of debugging and compatibility options to help work around any server issues). Stash Live was developed specifically for problematic hosts and is included for free in BackupBuddy 7.0+. If you run into issues or need help with BackupBuddy, our support team is ready to help from the iThemes Help Desk.

Basically, Stash Live takes continuous backups and stores them in their cloud server from where you can download your backups. According to iThemes, this also erases any issues arising from webhosts not supporting Backupbuddy.

When you buy BackupBuddy, you automatically get 1gb of Stash Live. More Stash Live backup space space is available on a paid basis.

1gb honestly, is too measly as a lot of WordPress installations can balloon up quickly to 1gb in their first year alone.

Update

We tested Stash Live on a problematic host not supporting BackupBuddy and it wasn’t working. Any staff member from iThemes is welcome to clarify that in the comments.


Due to all these gotchas it would be awesome if Backupbuddy offered a trial period or a demo version for testing purposes, but unfortunately it doesn’t.

Restoration and migration chevron-down

BackupBuddy has probably the best restoration guide for any WordPress backup plugin.

Here’s how it works:

  • Go the the Sidebar > Backupbuddy > Restore/migrate and download the importbuddy script.
  • Upload this script along with the backup zip file onto your server.
  • Keep your server details like the database name, username and password handly
  • Open up the server’s address in your browser and append ‘/importbuddy.php’
  • Follow the guide. Enter your database details when prompted.
  • Voila! you’re good to go. No unzipping, wp-config configuration, database, find & replace needed.

This is very good especially for people not familiar with the technical side of WordPress as instead of using tools like peach, uploading database to phpmyadmin, etc, they can simple run the restoration guide.

The whole process is pretty streamlined and works like a charm.

Pricing chevron-down

Backupbuddy is available in four flavours:

Blogger Freelancer Developer Gold
$80 $100 $150 $197

All plans include paid support as well as 1 year of plugin upgrades.

Other than incrementally increasing Backupbuddy Stash storage space and the option to backup more sites, the pricier options do not add more functionality.

For most people the Blogger plan will be more than enough. But if you’re running an agency and need a handy migration tool which serves as a backup plugin too, we recommend getting the Gold plan.

TLDR chevron-down

Backupbuddy is a very well rounded plugin, and is especially very user friendly. It backs up the whole WordPress installation along with the database and gives a good guide on restoring the backup which most backup plugins don’t have. Its a shame it is incompatible with some hosting companies.

I would recommend asking a friend(possibly someone who’s a developer) for the plugin and running it on your live WordPress installation. If it works, go get the plugin.

Think I’m missing something in this review? Shoot me a comment to let me know.

Technical Report chevron-down

Lines of code 257,983
Cyclometric complexity(CC) 3.87
Code violations

(0 criticals, 257 errors) - 615 violations

Uses custom Db table? No
CC Chart
NA

Backupbuddy comes with a whopping 2,57,983 lines of code.

This is fucking huge. Taking a look under the hood we can see that most of this is comprised of 3rd party code from various sources such as pclzip, google ad services, crypto packages, guzzle, monolog, etc included inside the plugin. The CC is a bit misleading because as most of the code is 3rd party, there’s no way of knowing for sure what is the CC number for Backupbuddy itself.

In conclusion, Backupbuddy comes with a lot of extra baggage.

Data generated from Phpmetrics. Although the data found through our research has been produced and processed from sources believed to be reliable, no warranty, expressed or implied, is made regarding accuracy, adequacy, legality or reliability of any information.

Features

Schedule backups Yes
Offsite backups Yes - To BackupBuddy Stash, Dropbox, Amazon S3, Rackspace Cloud, FTP, email, etc.
Email notifications Yes
File exclusion/inclusion Yes - you can easily include/exclude files and even database tables.
Trial version No
Multistep form Yes - styling can be a pain though
Form calculations Yes

Verdict

If it wasn’t for the the highlighted issues, Backupbuddy would have received a perfect score.

Which is a shame because once it runs properly, it is a pretty robust backup plugin. Lets hope they add better support and a trial version in the future.

  • Comes with various backup options(upload to S3, BackupStash, etc)

  • Has a handy guide for restoring backups

  • A lot of hosting providers have outright banned Backupbuddy, so you need to check if its compatible with your hosting before buying

  • No trial nor demo version available

3.5/5

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