PhpMyAdmin: Database Backup Tutorial

What exactly is PhpMyAdmin? How do I back up my database?  I never thought I’d fully understand the answers to these questions.  After all, I was just a writer, not a techy when I first started blogging.  I had no intentions of trying to figure out all of that extra stuff – but as time when on, I realized that I had to learn or else risk never knowing how to preserve my blog’s content.

Today, I’m going to share a step-by-step guide for performing a database backup via phpMyAdmin.

Sadly, I’m still recovering from last week’s outage.  If you read How to Avoid Losing Your Blog’s Precious Content (and what to do if you do!), then you’ve heard about the outage that caused me to lose a lot of a content and to spend hours on recovery measures – all because I was unprepared with a recent backup of my blog!  You might want to check out the post if you’ve experienced something like this and need strategies for recovering lost content.

Losing content is totally preventable, so this doesn’t have to happen to you!

After sharing my experience with readers and reviewing that post’s comments such as this one from Evelyn:


I decided it was time to create a quick step-by-step tutorial.  

Don’t be afraid of PhpMyAdmin

Saving a backup of your database doesn’t have to be scary.  There’s actually nothing scary about PhpMyAdmin.  It only takes a few clicks to create a backup of your database that you can save to your computer and use to restore your site if needed.  You can’t rely on just an XML export from WordPress – it’s not enough – it won’t save your settings, your images, your user data and your theme customizations, etc.

Backing up your database is actually very simple and straight forward.

To create a backup of your blog via PhpMyAdmin, simply follow this step-by-step guide or watch the video I created for you, below.

How to Backup Your WordPress Database with PhpMyAdmin

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  • Access to your cPanel (URL, username, and password)
  • A jumpdrive, Google Drive , Dropbox account or other place to store large files

To export a copy of your blog’s database, follow these steps:

phpMyAdmin1.  Log into your cPanel.

2.  Scroll down until you find the “Databases” section.

3.  Click the “phpMyAdmin” link.  (You may need to re-log in)

4.  Locate your blog’s database in the left-hand sidebar and click the link.

5.  Locate the “Export” button at the top of the page and click it”

6.  Leave the default settings alone and just click “Go.”

7.  Save a copy in a folder on your local drive and an additional copy on a jumpdrive or to Google Drive (recommended).

If ever you need to restore or move your blog, simply follow steps 1-4 and this time click “Import”.  Locate your file and then upload it.  It’s that quick and easy.

Schedule Manual or Automatic Backups

If you’re going to back up your site manually, I recommend deciding on a back up schedule that you will adhere to faithfully.  Try to adhere to a weekly, or every-other weekly backup schedule if you only post a few times a week.  If you update your site frequently, you may want to do backups every couple of days or use a plugin to back up your site automatically.

Warning: plugins can conflict with each other, so be sure to back up your site before uploading one of these plugins – I know… ironic, huh?  I had remove a previous backup plugin because it was causing errors and failing to backup, but perhaps, they’ve worked out the bugs since then.

3 Automatic Database Backup plugin Options

BackWPup – Free – (I’ve decided to give this one a try) – I like that this plugin can automatically send backups to Dropbox.  There are other options if you’re willing to pay to upgrade your account.

Backup – Free – I like the fact that it’s possible send backups to Google Drive, but I used this one years ago and experienced some issues.  I’m sure things have been updated and kinks worked out, but I decided to go with the previous option.

Another reader, Leslie recommends Backup Buddy.  It’s not free, but it might be a higher quality backup plugin than the others.  If you’re scared you’re going to forget to back up your database and want to make sure you get files that work, you might want to consider the investment.


Watch the phpAdmin Backup Tutorial Video

Before attempting this yourself, you might want to take a look at this video for an over-the-shoulder look at how to access phpMyAdmin as I take you step-by-step through the process of exporting a WordPress Database:

So now you know what to do!  Spend a few minutes preserving your site’s content today!  What backup plugins are you using?  Share your experiences with backup plugins – which back up plugin works best?  worst?

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