5 Backup Solutions for WordPress Multisite Networks

There are hundreds of ways to backup WordPress sites but very few of them are compatible with multisite networks.

When you operate a multisite network, you’re responsible not only for the work you have put into creating the main site but also for the hard work that everyone else has put into their websites on your network. It would be tragic to lose all of that data due to a hosting failure, DDoS attack or some other misfortune that might befall your network.

Here are a few backup solutions that advertise themselves as multisite compatible. Most of the major commercial plugins dedicated to backing up WordPress have only just recently added multisite support. If you’re wondering how they compare on cost and features then read on.

BackupBuddy

backupbuddy

BackupBuddy is a product from iThemes that allows you to schedule WordPress backups and have them sent off-site to Dropbox, Amazon S3, Rackspace Cloud, an FTP server, or your email. The plugin also makes it easy to download the backups right to your desktop. Additional features include the ability to restore backups and migrate your installation of WordPress.

Pricing options vary from $80 – $197, depending on the number of licenses and the package you select.

The iThemes codex does caution that although they offer support for multisite backups, the multisite features are still somewhat experimental:

As a Network can contain many subsites, each subsite increases the amount of time needed to perform a backup, especially if the sites are large. This can demand more server resources or more PHP runtime. Most shared hosting does not permit increasing these resources so BackupBuddy may not be able to finish backups under these conditions. If you have access to modify these settings, Maximum PHP runtime is a key setting to increase as needed.

This is quite a common problem when attempting to backup very large networks and is something that will more than likely cause you to have to tinker with your server settings.

VaultPress

vaultpress

VaultPress is another high quality, trusted backup solution. It offers the unique feature of being able to backup your content in realtime, which means any time you publish a post, get a new comment or make any changes, your site is automatically backed up. Additional features include daily security scans, single-click repairs for common security threats and the ability to quickly restore a backup. Pricing ranges from $5 – $40/month depending on the type of backups you wish to perform and the number of additional features you require.

VaultPress does advertise multisite support. However, its support for multisite would mean that each blog owner would have to backup their own site with their own Vaultpress account. The VaultPress help section details the limitations of the support offered for multisite:

A multisite network administrator must install the plugin and activate VaultPress across the network. Each site will need a separate VaultPress subscription and registration key.

…Once activated on the network, any site administrator can purchase and register their site with VaultPress.

This seems to be very inconvenient, especially if your multisite network is one where users are no so much immersed in the WordPress dashboard. If you simply want to provide a backup of all of your sites without putting the burden on each blog owner, then VaultPress is not for you.

Snapshot

Snapshot is a plugin offered by WPMU DEV for making painless backups that are easy to access. It lets you schedule automatic backups of WordPress and integrates with Amazon S3, Dropbox or SFTP for storing backups. Snapshot offers a unique feature which allows you to create ‘Time Machine’ snapshots of your entire database or select individual tables for a custom backup that includes or excludes as much data as you like. The plugin also includes an annotated log of all snapshots. Customizable restore points enable you to make notes about each snapshop so that you can easily restore the site to any point in time.

Snapshot is 100% compatible with WordPress multisite. Database segment size can be adjusted in the plugin’s settings to keep the requests from timing out when backing up a very large database. The plugin also gives you the ability to easily increase your PHP memory limit beyond the default settings in your php.ini file so that there’s enough memory to process your backups.

The advantages of using this plugin are that you do not have to sign up for an expensive monthly service for your backups and no ongoing subscription is required. Pricing starts at just $9 for the plugin, which you can purchase and use for as long as you like on as many sites as you want without any licensing restrictions.

BackWPup

BackWPup is a free plugin available in the WordPress plugin repository. It is widely used by more than 60.000 users and gets excellent reviews. It allows you to backup WordPress to an external Backup Service, like Dropbox, S3, FTP and many more.

BackWPup lists multisite compatibility among its features. The plugin can only be used as super admin from the network admin administration. A number of additional features are included in the Pro version starting at $75, including a wizard for system tests, scheduled backups, imports and premium support.

Backup Scheduler

backups

Backup Scheduler is a very highly rated free plugin from the WordPress.org repository. You can store backups on the website, send them via email or FTP. The options are a bit more simple than the other plugins and it doesn’t offer support for sending backups to popular file storage services.

Backup Scheduler also claims to have multisite compatibility for backing up single sites or the entire network:

Each blog administrator may save their own data. The super-admin may save either its data or the whole website.

Regardless of your budget, you need to find a way to make backups of your multisite network. Any of the free or commercial plugins listed above will get you on the right track. Have you had success backing up multisite with any other plugins than the ones listed above? Let us know your favorites in the comments.

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Comments (24)

  1. I put BackupBuddy on every single site I build. I can build a site locally or on a test server, then use BackupBuddy to move the site to it’s permanent server. Moving and copying sites is extremely easy and this a lone makes it more than worth the price. I like to create a “test version” of my sites to test new plugins or site customizations before they go on the “real” site. This way I can test site speed on the exact server the “real” site is on before officially making the change.

    I like that Snapshot is 100% multisite compatible, and it’s great for a simple backup solution, but I wish it had some of the features that BackupBuddy has.

  2. BackupBuddy always seems to cause issues with things on my server and my hosting company absolutely hates it!

    Instead my host runs nightly backups for me and I take the occasional local backup using the Duplicator Plugin. It creates a single zip file that allows me to complete reinstall sites in a couple of minutes.

    • Have you been able to get Duplicator working with a multisite?
      Could you perhaps check for errors that come up and corrections needed and send an e-mail to myself or the author of Duplicator, so he can make Duplicator multisite compatible? I have read that it is not so hard making it work within the multisite environment, if one knows what to correct.

  3. Hi Sarah
    I think that “BackupWP” should be BackWPup.
    It used to be a great free plugin, but went bad ways when the pro version was launched.
    Its rating is down to 4.4 out of 5.0.

  4. I agree with justinn, Duplicator is the best. The only thing missing is multisite support. I can migrate single installations to a different server or folder without any drama. I am looking for a plugin that will do the same with multisite installations (migrate).

    BackupBuddy seems to do that, but many complain that it’s not compatible with many servers, so I’m not willing to conduct a $197 experiment.

    I will try Backup Scheduler, although I don’t think it can migrate a site to a new location.

    I don’t think there is a plugin that will reliably migrate a multisite. My hopes are that the Duplicator will add that feature, very soon.

    Nice article btw…, thanks.

    • I’ve heard good reports of the Duplicator Plugin. but never tried it out.
      At the moment I still backup manually.

      Site files via FTP and database via CPanel and PHPMyAdmin.
      Still looking for that perfect backup solution.

      • Hi Keith,

        Forgive the self-promotion, but have you tried UpdraftPlus? It’s the highest-rated backup plugin on wordpress.org, so I was a bit disappointed that it didn’t make it into a WPMU round-up again (we missed the last one too).

        It backs up multisite, but needs the premium version to do so securely if you have multiple site admins. (The premium version adds the code to distinguish admin from network admin). The premium version also includes the site migrator.

        If you don’t find it meeting your needs, then we’d value your feedback to get improvements.

        Our dev version also has code to allow you to import a single-site install additively into a multi-site, which is a feature I’ve not seen elsewhere. (Not sure anyone really wants it – a guy promised to buy our biggest package if we added the feature, but then vanished after we told him it was ready for testing!).

        David

        • Thanks David
          Just taken a brief look and with 4.8 rating and most queries resolved, this looks like a serious backup plugin.

          I’m off on holiday for 10days or so and then I’ll try out your plugin.

          Apologies to Sarah for hijacking het topic.. slightly.

  5. I’m not sure why BackupBuddy is top on this list for backup solutions for Multisite Networks? They have publicly acknowledged that BackupBuddy should not be used in production environments. “BackupBuddy Multisite support is EXPERIMENTAL. It is not recommended for production sites and is not officially supported.” Moreover, if you email support, they will also tell you that they DO NOT support Multisite.

    http://ithemes.com/codex/page/BackupBuddy_Multisite

    I know that people have still been using it successfully, but I don’t think I would trust that solution for production networks. I was unable to use earlier this year for Multisite, as it kept crashing on me.

  6. Do any of these plugins actually restore a single site from the multisite environment though? I mean thats the real functionality i think we all need and from what I can see, no backup plugin does that – even WPMU’s.

    Please let me know if I’m wrong – I’d welcome that.

    • Hi Daniel,

      UpdraftPlus doesn’t do this yet. We’ve got a lot of the infrastructure in place, and it’s an increasingly requested feature. Watch this space – maybe in about 3 months.

      David

      • Thanks David! It looks like we’re going to have to use VaultPress for now on http://awesoemcause.com and just purchase spearate, individual licenses for each new client on our pro accounts (that level includes backup).

        But please do let us know on WPMU once this feature has been added to UpdraftPlus!

        Thanks!

  7. Hi

    I see a few people mention the free plugin Duplicator.
    To make Duplicator multisite compatible Cory the author needs feedback from developers on what he needs to correct to make Duplicator working within the multisite environment.

    Ideally I would like to see another developer help Cory out with multisite, drop box functionality, revisions, and more…:)

    Have a great day!

  8. Hi.

    Happy New Year,

    What is the ‘state of play’ now folks? i.e. January 2014!

    Updraftplus seems very attractive to me, especially if the individual multi-site is now available?

    I note that David Anderson reports that his team has been working on this.

    Hows that going David?

    I have to say that I have been on years of a ‘learning curve’ with a WP project, but the thought of going to a production server without this ‘problem area’ being solve is scarey!!!

    Regards

    John Voce

    • Hi John,

      It’s going rather slowly, unfortunately. We had a list of things to give time to in December. Inevitably they took longer than we’d hoped – and more multisite options was the one that got squeezed out. Not much more to say at this point.

      David

  9. Hi David,

    I know this will sound like an ‘arm twister’, but I am also being genuine in my opinion.

    I wish I had been aware of your plugin sooner, but fully intend doinga bit on ‘agency work’ and buying the ‘Full Monty’ from you ASAP !

    It is a much needed plugin that is under promoted on blogs.

    With the ‘individual multi-site’ option it has to be a winner!

    Any chance of you letting us know if and when you achieve this?

    Many thanks

    johnv

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