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 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 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 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 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 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.