How to Create Incremental Backups for Free with WP Time Capsule

WordPress backup plugins are becoming a saturated market in the WordPress industry, but they’re all different in their own little ways. Some back up your site automatically while others let you create manual backups.

Some are free while others are only available at premium prices. Variety is good, but new plugins really need to stick out if they want to make it in this saturated market. That’s exactly what WP Time Capsule intends to do.

WP Time Capsule Overview

WP Time Capsule is a free WordPress backup plugin developed by the same team that runs InfiniteWP, a powerful WordPress management solution. This plugin backs up your site automatically and stores it, “it” being your files and database, in the cloud storage solution of your choice. Your options are Dropbox, Google Drive and Amazon S3. Updates happen on a daily basis at a timing of your choosing. You can also restore your site to any point with a single click.

Incremental Backups – The Future of WordPress Backups

WP Time Capsule uses what’s known as an incremental backup. It creates a large backup of your entire site and database when you first install the plugin. It only updates the changes you make thereafter.

The practice is meant to reduce the time it takes to create backups for your site. The first backup may be dozens or even hundreds of MB large while the daily backups will only be a very small fraction of it. This reduces the impact creating a backup has on your server, allowing you to enjoy daily automatic backups without having a hiccup in site performance on a daily basis.

Restore Your Site with One Click

You know the System Restore feature in Windows or the Time Machine feature in OS X? That’s what the restore feature in WP Time Capsule is similar to. Your site is backed up on a daily basis, and every new backup creates a new restore point.

If the files on your site become corrupted, all you need to do is use the plugin to restore your site to a day where it was functioning correctly, such as the last day it was functioning correctly.

Let’s learn how to use it.

Note: This plugin does not work with local servers. You’ll need a live server to test it.

1. Creating an Account

Go to WPTimeCapsule.com, and click the Sign Up for Free button.

Enter your name, email address and desired password to create an account.

You’ll receive an email shortly after where you can click a link to confirm your account to activate it.

2. Installing & Setting Up WP Time Capsule

Log into your WordPress site, and go to the Add a New Plugin page. Search for “wptc”, and install and activate WP Time Capsule.

Log into the WP Time Capsule account you created in the first step.

Select the cloud storage app you’d like to save your backups to, and sign into your account to connect the apps.

3. Scheduling Backups

Select the time of day you’d like to schedule your backups for, and select a city that has the same time zone as you.

Click the Include/Exclude? link if there’s any part of your files and database you’d like to exclude from your backup. WordPress core files are checked by default.

If there are any file extensions you’d like to exclude from backups to save on time, such as large media files, enter them in the next textbox.

Click Save and Continue to save your backup schedule.

You can navigate to WP Time Capsule > Settings to change these settings at anytime.

4. Creating Your First Backup

Here’s the not-so-fun part. WP Time Capsule syncs your account with a cloud storage solution so it can create a backup and upload it to the cloud. It creates an initial backup and only backs up any changes made to your site after that. It starts creating the initial backup after you click Save and Continue in the previous step.

Why isn’t this fun? Well, this process could take hours or even days depending on the size of your site, the number of files your site has and the upload speed used to upload your backup to the cloud.

However, it’s important to note this only occurs during the first backup. The backups created on a daily basis after that only upload the changes you made between backups. It does not create a backup of your entire site every time, meaning the initial backup is the only backup that will take a long time.

5. Viewing Your Activity Log

Once your initial backup is complete, you can go to WP Time Capsule > Activity Log to view a complete log of every event that occurred during the backup.

You can see my initial backup took over 3 hours.

There’s nothing left to do after that. All you need to do is wait for the backup to complete. Your daily backups will occur automatically after that.

6. Restoring Your Site from a Backup

This plugin creates daily backups for your site, and each one creates a restore point.

If your site gets hacked or becomes corrupted, you can restore it to any one of these days using a restore point. Click 1 Restore Point on your most recent restore point to restore your site to the last day it functioned correctly.

You can choose what you want to restore. Click the list icon to open the selection menu.

Only the files that were changed appear in this screen, so you may only see your database and a few files here. If you want to restore your entire site, you’ll need to choose your initial backup as a restore point. However, this will likely exclude any changes you made since then.

Once you have everything you want restored selected, click Restore Selected.

You can also click Restore Site to This Point from the first screen if you want to restore every file that was backed up that day.

Click Yes when a pop-up message appears asking if you’re sure you want to restore your site.

A progress window will appear letting you know how far along the restoration is. You’ll also receive an automated email from WP Time Capsule shortly after the restoration begins.

The restoration took a minute for me using the last backup that was created.

Where are Backups Saved?

WP Time Capsule creates a new folder in your main directory of the cloud storage app you connected your account to called “WP Time Capsule.” It creates an additional folder inside of this folder called “yourdomain.com,” which is where your backup is located.

If you need access to your database file for a manual restoration, you can access it by navigating to WP Time Capsule > yourdomain.com > wp-content > Uploads > tCapsule > Backups.

Pricing & What the Future Holds for WP Time Capsule

The amazing part about WP Time Capsule is that it’s entirely free, making it one of the most affordable and lightweight WordPress backup solutions. You may be wondering how long a plugin of this nature can remain free, and you wouldn’t be wrong for doing so.

Thankfully, the developers have a few features in the works that will extend the functionality of the base plugin for a premium price.

Website Rollback

This is a great feature to use if your site breaks after an update, especially an automatic update. The website rollback feature allows you to “roll back” plugins, themes and versions of WordPress without losing your data. This helps you keep your site online by giving you a much quicker and easier fix.

Backup Before Update

The Backup Before Update feature allows you to use WordPress’ auto-update feature securely. This feature creates a fresh backup of your site before a plugin, theme or WordPress core file updates. This is especially an intriguing feature for those who wish to use the auto-update feature but choose not to in fear their sites may break in ways that would cost hours upon hours to repair.

One-Click Staging

This is a great feature for those on cheaper hosting plans or those whose hosts do not offer staging areas. This feature lets you create a clone of your site with one click, a clone that lets you test new features and updates without editing the live version of your site and potentially breaking it.

File Change Monitor

The File Change Monitor feature is an interesting one. It scans your site for suspicious activity and notifies you when a change is made without your authorization. This keeps you ahead of the game in terms of WordPress security as you’ll be able to clean malicious code from your site in near-real time.

Final Thoughts

Incremental backups, such as the ones ManageWP introduced, are among the lightest ways to back up a WordPress site, and they’re even automatic and daily. Astonishingly, WP Time Capsule has offered all of these features for free.

The plugin is also truly lightweight and “set and forget.” You choose when it performs its daily backup, and because it’s incremental, you won’t even know it’s running due to the swift way it creates these backups. You’ll also have access to numerous of restore points, giving you a quick and easy way of repairing your site and getting it back online should a doomsday event occur.

You can check out this plugin for free now.

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