4 Top WordPress Multisite Backup Solutions Tested and Reviewed
Is your Multisite install ready if – and when – disaster hits? Many aren’t, but there’s one thing you can do right now to minimize your network’s recovery time in the event of a natural – or unnatural – disaster (I’m looking at you, hackers!).
When you make regular backups, you can quickly replace any broken or hacked sites with a previous copy that’s unaffected. The trouble is, creating backups manually can be time-consuming and easily forgotten about and not all options available are necessarily network-ready.
We field a lot of questions in our forums and on the blog about backup solutions for Multisite, so to help you out I’ve reviewed the best premium options for you and laid out each of their strengths and points of improvement.
Let’s get started.
Comparing Multisite Backup Plugins
Deciding which backup plugin is right for you isn’t an easy task since there are many great options available, but each one has their particular strengths, which is why I have compared the top four Multisite backup plugins in five categories: ease of use, speed and accuracy, backup quality, restoring power, and price.
In rating the plugin below, I’ve taken into consideration how easy they are to use out-of-the-box, whether backups and restores are produced at top speeds without missing or corrupting files, if full backups of files and database tables – including custom ones – are produced without errors, whether restoring options are available and can be successfully applied with ease, and if the price is reasonable for the number of features and the quality you get for your money.
These features are all important when considering an automated backup service, and a suitable restore option is no exception. Many people don’t realize that restoring is just as important as backing up, as Rachel McCollin pointed out on our blog in a recent post. Each plugin is activated as a super admin and can’t be accessed by individual sites. There are also varying degrees of backup features so it’s important to explore each feature thoroughly.
I have investigated these plugins and searched their nooks and crannies to help you best understand where these plugins excel. When you have identified which features are most important to you, check out the corresponding ratings for these plugins so you can pick the best solution for your network.
- You can restore to a live or test site
- There's a one-click restore option
- Easy to navigate in the dashboard
- Only backs up common files for Multisite networks
- Each site needs its own subscription to run the plugin network-wide
- The monthly subscription is per-site so it can potentially get very expensive
The Bottom Line
VaultPress is a trusted name for backing up your WordPress site, especially since it's built and maintained by Automattic, the team behind WordPress.com. While it has speedy backups and recoveries, when it comes to a Multisite network, not everything can be backed up, which means you could be left to fend for yourself if you find you need to restore your site.
Ease of Use
In the backend of VaultPress, it’s definitely as quick to get around as it is easy on the eyes. All of the settings are laid out nicely and are easy to understand. Creating backups and restoring sites in your network is fairly simple and straightforward.
Speed and Accuracy
The main issue with VaultPress, for Multisite specifically, is that not all files and database tables are backed up – only the common files and data that come with a fresh install of Multisite can be backed up, which means no matter what you do you won’t ever be able to backup and restore any site in your network with VaultPress for Multisite.
In some cases, this may actually be a benefit. For example, if you have a demo site to showcase themes or plugins you designed, you wouldn’t want any user-submitted changes saved. It’s not as ideal for situations where you need to backup posts, pages, comments and other similar pieces of your network.
Beyond that, backing up and restoring is fast – but that’s probably because everything in your network isn’t included in the backup.
Assuming you only need to back up inherent Multisite files, VaultPress saves a history of your backups so you can choose exactly which one you want to restore. There is also a scheduling feature available so you can automatically backup sites in your network on a daily basis.
For the Basic package of VaultPress – without the security features included in a separate kind of subscription – there’s also an included option, which allows you to see what is being backed up in real-time to give you a first-hand glimpse of your backup’s progress.
For the main site in your network, user tables, plugins and themes are included in the backup, but just not for any sub-sites in the network.
With the FTP or SSH connection details you provide on the settings page beforehand, you can restore a site in just one click. You also have the option of restoring to a live or test site. You aren’t limited to restoring to the same site that was backed up, although, options to that end are a bit limited.
With a Multisite installation, each site in the network needs to have its own subscription to run VaultPress, which can be limiting to some. Support is included in each package and the price for VaultPress Lite is $5 per month or $55 per year. For a couple extra features, including unlimited backup archive and real-time backups, the VaultPress Basic package can be a great option for $15 per month or $165 per year.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that VaultPress offers other plans that include security features in case you’re looking to reduce the numbers of plugins you use in your network.
- Backups are incredibly flexible
- One-click restores available for each site in a network
- You can migrate sites with this plugin
- Has less off-site saving options than some of the other options
- It's potentially the most expensive option based on price alone
- Included plugins and themes must be installed and activated on the site before restoring
The Bottom Line
SnapShot has one-click backups and restores and also gives you many advanced options that the other plugins just don't have to ensure your network stays safe, but also to help make scaling a breeze since Snapshot can handle large networks. If your network grows, backing up and restoring won't have to be an issue.
Backups and restores also don't exhaust your server's resources since there are advanced settings for this, too. It may not have as many off-site locations for storing your backups as other plugins, but you can also migrate sites, scheduling backups are flexible and one subscription works on an unlimited number of sites and also gives you access to well over 100 additional plugins and themes. The number of settings can get overwhelming, but they also provide the most features out of all the plugins listed here.
Ease of Use
It can be tricky to figure it out at first since there are quite a few advanced settings, but first time Snapshot users are guided through the settings to help you get your head around how it works. You can use this plugin out-of-the-box and save your backups to your web server, but for larger sites and networks it’s best to err on the side of caution and go through the settings fully before creating your first backup.
There’s also a guide to backing up with Snapshot available to make the process that much easier.
Speed and Accuracy
Backing up and restoring with Snapshot can take longer than the other plugins in this review because you are directed to a page that shows you what’s being backed up or restored in real-time. There’s also an Abort button that appears beside each item as it’s being processed so you can choose to cancel an item when you realize after the fact that you don’t need it. Since the plugin gives you a few seconds to cancel items, this also means backing up and restoring takes a bit of extra time and it’s typical for the process to take a few minutes and possibly longer for larger networks.
You can backup and restore sites seamlessly in one click and an added feature of site migration has also been recently added, though you need to have the same plugins and themes installed and activated on the site where you want to apply a restore to finish the site migration process.
Since you can migrate sites for multiple different situations, you aren’t limited to only network-wide migrations, which is one of the major differences between this plugin and others on this list. This does mean there are additional settings to work with as a result, but we’ve got a handy guide, How to Backup Your WordPress Website (and Multisite) Using Snapshot, that shows you the ins and out of how to use it.
Backing up with Snapshot is incredibly flexible. You can backup to your web server, email, Dropbox, Amazon S3, FTP, SFTP and Google Drive. You can choose to schedule backups multiple times a day as often as every five minutes for busier networks, which isn’t possible at all with the other plugins. Once you create your snapshot profiles for each of the sites in your network, you can set them all to backup whenever you want, although you can only set up one site to be backed up per snapshot profile. Even still, you can choose to backup everything or just select files and tables.
Snapshot also has the capability to adjust your php5.ini file and segment the backup to reduce server load and help eliminate timeouts. You can choose how many backups you want to keep at a time so older ones are deleted automatically in order to save on space. You won’t ever have to worry about being overrun with backups and running out of space in the cloud.
You can restore a site in one click and cancel items as you would with backups. As long as you create a snapshot profile to backup an entire site in the network, it can be fully restored. It couldn’t be easier.
With a WPMU DEVsubscription, you can backup and restore unlimited sites and you also get access to all other plugins and themes. Support and updates are also included. A subscription is $49.50 for the first month, then $99 there after. The monthly price also goes down if you switch to a quarterly or yearly package.
- Backups are incredibly fast
- You can backup sites in your network right out-of-the-box
- There are many off-site integrated locations available to save your backups
- Restore options aren't included at all
- No frills plugin without many enhanced capabilities compared to others
- Price is quite high when you consider other plugins have more features at a comparable price
The Bottom Line
With BackWPup Pro, you can easily and quickly backup your entire network all in one go, but recovering sites is completely up to you since this plugin does not include any options for restoring. Backups are lightning fast for smaller networks, but are still fast for larger ones. It's a solid plugin with standard features that fit the needs of most, but when it comes to value, the price point is on the higher end if you consider some of the other plugins on this list include a much more impressive feature-set.
Ease of Use
The main page of the BackWPup Pro plugin offers quick suggestions on how to get started with the plugin, which makes it easier to set everything up. You can create a backup out-of-the-box, but your backup could be reduced in quality if you choose this option since the settings have options to reduce the load on your server. They also offer different backup locations and other important settings that, if missed, could cause you to create a backup without the specific files and tables you need, hor example.
Speed and Accuracy
Backups are incredibly fast, even with multiple sites and tables. You can backup your database only in one click, but this can also be an Achilles heal to less experienced users since only backing up your database isn’t enough. This can potentially cause accuracy issues and could result in a backup that doesn’t restore everything. This is why it’s important to go through the settings properly to avoid restoring issues.
All files and tables in a network, including all sites, can be selected for backup at once, which can speed up the process. As long as you select all the applicable files and tables, you can restore your site and network without issue, otherwise errors could be a result.
You also have the option to schedule and create differential backups as well as import settings that you have saved for BackWPup Pro.
Options to save your backups include to your web server, through email, FTP, Sugarsync, Rackspace, Dropbox, Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure, Google Drive and Amazon Glacier.
BackWPup doesn’t have any automatic restoring options whatsoever. If being able to restore your sites quickly is an important feature for you, then this plugin isn’t for you as you can only restore manually.
For one site, including updates and support, the subscription is $75 per year and $45 per year starting at the second year. For five sites, a subscription is $95 per year and $55 a year after that. For a subscription that includes ten sites, the cost is $190 per year and $110 per year thereafter. If you develop and maintain more than ten sites, you would need to purchase multiple subscriptions.
- You can backup everything, including plugin, theme and custom files, and tables
- The price point is the lowest of all plugins on the list
- Creating a new site in the network from a backup is possible
- Can restore only one sub-site at a time
- Out-of-the-box, your backups could be affected in ways you don't want
- It can be difficult to navigate all the settings and find what you need
The Bottom Line
UpdraftPlus Premium provides solid, full backups at one of the lowest price points available. There are many off-site storage locations available, along with a couple extra features thrown in to add more value such as site migration and in-house cloud storage, though, these benefits don't come without a few technical limitations. If you run this plugin out-of-the-box, it could affect your backup negatively and there are some features that aren't best-suited for high volume networks.
Ease of Use
There are so many settings to go though that it can be difficult to wrap your head around all of them if you’re not prepared. While a lot of the settings are easy enough to understand, there are some worth reading up on in the documentation to make sure you get them right, if only to avoid unwanted errors. The settings are laid out well enough that it’s easy to navigate once you get a handle on how to understand them, but it’s way too easy to miss many important options.
Similar to other plugins in this list, backups can be completed out-of-the-box, but you really shouldn’t since you could include or miss unwanted files and data, not to mention other settings that could cause errors when restoring a site. For smaller Multisite installations, this may not be noticable, but larger networks could find errors or timeouts appear if the settings aren’t selected carefully.
Speed and Accuracy
UpdraftPlus Premium is lightning fast. Each site in your network typically takes only a few seconds to backup and missing files are commonly not an issue. Restoring your site is just as fast.
You can use this plugin to backup everything in each site in your network including plugin, theme and custom files and tables. For older versions of WordPress, your mu-plugins folder is backed up separately to match how WordPress stores it independent from the uploads folder.
Backups can only be created for one site at a time, but you can backup your site in any time frame you choose, though, the settings are tucked away.
Similar to creating backups, you can only restore a site in your network one at a time. You do have the option of creating a new site in your network and restoring a backup to it for basic site migration, although, other types of migrations aren’t possible.
For two sites, you can get a subscription for $70 per year. For 10 sites, the subscription runs at $95 per year and for unlimited sites, the cost is $145 per year. Each subscription includes support and updates. It’s certainly the lowest cost option and includes most of the options that a typical super admin would need, but for larger networks, it just won’t cut it.
That being said, UpdraftPlus Premium has the most integrated locations available to save your backups including on your web server, through email, WebDAV, OneDrive, Copy.com, DFTP, FTPS, SCP, Dropbox, Rackspace, Amazon S3, Google Drive and 1GB of storage in their own cloud solution called UpdraftPlus Vault.
Choosing the right backup plugin for your site can be challenging on its own when there are so many options out there, but choosing a backup plugin that’s also compatible with Multisite can be even trickier. With the best options compared by feature-set, you should have enough information to pick what suits your network’s needs.
Which Multisite backup plugin is the best of the best? Well, that’s really a matter of opinion. Since each network has its own individual requirements, there isn’t one single plugin that offers a one-size-fits-all solution. One plugin may work great for you, but may not be as ideal for other site admins. That’s why it’s important to decide which features are most important to you, then pick a plugin that’s strong in those categories.
Have you tried any of these Multisite backup plugins? How did they fair? Which plugin do you want to try next? Share your thoughts in the comments below.