The Ultimate Guide to UpdraftPlus: How to Backup, Restore, or Migrate Your WordPress Website

Posted on October 9, 2016 by in Tips & Tricks | 27 comments

The Ultimate Guide to UpdraftPlus: How to Backup, Restore, or Migrate Your WordPress Website

UpdraftPlus is one of the most popular plugins for WordPress and is an excellent tool to help you backup, restore, or even migrate your website. There are plenty of features including backup scheduling and multiple storage options to choose from, and the plugin can be expanded through add-ons.

Of course a tool is only useful if you know how to use it. This article will guide you through creating backups, restoring, and migrating your WordPress website using UpdraftPlus.

The Dashboard


All of the adjustments for UpdraftPlus are done in its customized dashboard. To access the dashboard go to Settings > UpDraftPlus Backups. You can also access this menu from the drop-down from the admin menu bar at the top of your screen.



Before making backups I recommend going through the settings and choose the backup schedule, where the backups will be stored, and the files that will be included in the backup. In the UpdraftPlus dashboard select the Settings tab and make your choices. You must save the settings before they can take effect. Let’s take a closer look at the settings.

Files Backup Schedule and Database Backup Schedule


Choose how often to create backups of files and databases and the number of backups to store. The backup schedule can be manual, every 4 hours, 8 hours, 12 hours, daily, weekly, fortnightly, or monthly.

Remote Storage


UpdraftPlus can save your backups to your server, an offline account, or even email them to you. Unless you just want to store them on your server you’ll need to set up your offline storage locations before performing backups.

UpdraftPlus recommends storing your files on a remote storage. Here you can select the service you wish to store your backups with. Your choices include:

  • UpdraftPlus Vault
  • Dropbox
  • Amazon S3
  • Rackspace Cloud Files
  • Google Drive
  • Microsoft OneDrive
  • FTP
  • Microsoft Azure
  • Google Cloud
  • WebDAV
  • S3-Compatible
  • OpenStack
  • DreamObjects
  • Email

Many of these choices are external premium services. Once you select a service you’ll have to connect to it using the information provided by the service. This includes any access keys, user names, etc. Some options will require an UpdraftPlus add-on.

Some of these choices allow you to download or upload in chunks. This is helpful so you don’t have server time-out issues. I only recommend email storage for small files. Email servers often have attachment size limits so you might never receive your files.

If you don’t select a remote storage location then your files will be stored on your server. One problem with this is if something happens to your website you might not be able to access the files because they’re on the same server. Another problem is they can take a lot of space and slow your server down.

If you prefer not to use a remote storage service then I recommend downloading the files to store offline and then deleting the files on your server. Out of the box you’ll only get to choose one storage location. If you want to send your files to more than one location you’ll need a premium add-on.

For the examples in this tutorial I’ve selected Dropbox.

Include Files in Backup


These settings let you choose the types of files to include in the backup. Choices include plugins, themes, uploads, and other directories within the wp-content folder. You can also tell which individual files to exclude.

Database Encryption Phrase


To improve security you can decrypt an encrypted database. Enter a decryption key and then drop the zipped database file into the decryption box.



The email selection box allows UpdraftPlus to send you a basic report in your email.

Expert Settings


Selecting this will show the expert settings. Settings include:

  • Debug mode
  • Split archives
  • Delete local backup
  • Backup directory
  • Use the server’s SSL certificates
  • Do not verify SSL certificates
  • Disable SSL entirely where possible

Creating Backups


Create manual backups in the Current Status tab. Your options here are Backup Now, Restore, and Clone/Migrate. Clicking Backup Now will start the backup process. Clicking Restore or Clone/Migrate will take you to their respective tabs.

Backup to Server


Clicking the Backup Now button opens a modal popup with several choices. Here you can choose to include the database and files, and decide if the backup is sent to remote storage.


Click Backup Now to start the backup process. Unless you’ve set up a remote location the backup will be stored on your server. Depending on the size of your website this can take a while to complete. Once the backup is complete you can download the files and store them offline.

Backup to Dropbox


If you’ve connected a remote storage such as Dropbox then remote storage will automatically be selected.


After connecting my Dropbox account the next backup I performed appeared in a folder within my Dropbox account that it automatically made for UpdraftPlus.

Downloading, Uploading, and Restoring Backups


You can see your available backups in the Existing Backups tab. From this tab you can restore, delete, and upload files. If the backups you’re looking for are not here you can rescan your local folder or remote storage for backups.

Downloading Backup Data


You can download the files from your list of existing backups. Simply click on the file you want to download and then choose to download the file from the box that appears above the list of files. The download starts automatically.

This is a great way to store your files on your own computer or save them in another location such as a USB drive. Large files will be broken into smaller files. Once the files are downloaded you have the option to delete them from your server if you prefer.



Click Restore for the backup you wish to restore. If you’re not sure which you want you can select View Log to get more information about the files.

Selecting the Restore button opens a modal popup where you can choose which files to restore. Using these options you can restore just your images or plugins without making changes to your database. The options and files work the same regardless of whether they are stored on your server or an offline service.


Make your selections and click Restore. It will now process the information and give you one more chance to cancel before restoring. These files will overwrite the files on your website. If you’re sure then click Restore again.


It’s important to wait for the restore to complete before closing your browser.


Once the backup is fully restored you’ll get a message that shows the restore was a success.



You can also upload files to restore from. FTP and several other choices will let you upload in chunks. Once the files have uploaded they will appear in the list of existing backups. You can then select and restore from them.


There are multiple methods to performing the migration. If one method doesn’t work for you then try one of the others. All of the methods are just different ways of getting the files to the new site. You can import them, upload them through the built-in uploader, connect to an offline storage service, or upload via FTP.

Premium Plugin


Migrating to a new location requires the premium migrator add-on. This will cost between $30-49 per year depending on the features you want. This is a replacement plugin that requires you to deactivate and delete the version.

Be sure to follow the installation instructions closely as the migration add-on will not appear automatically. Once you’ve authenticated your account UpdraftPlus will alert you that the authentication was successful. If there is an update available a message will appear across the top of the screen.

Note – deleting the plugin will not delete your backups.

The Migration Process

Once you’ve activated your premium account go back to the Current Status tab and click Clone/Migrate.


Migrating and restoring are virtually the same thing with the exception of where the files are restored to. You can’t just take files from one site and upload them to another because the files are made for a specific site. The migrator add-on modifies those files to work on the new site.

Migrating will create a clone of the original site. Any content on the site you’re migrating to will be lost. You must have the premium edition of UpdraftPlus installed and activated on both sites.

The Test Sites

For this example I’m doing an imported migration. Here’s a look at the sites that I’m using for this walkthrough.

The Receiving Site


The site that I’m migrating into is a fresh installation of WordPress. It has no posts or pages beyond the samples that WordPress creates on install. The only thing I’ve added is UpdraftPlus with the migration add-on.

The Migrating Site


The site that I want to migrate from uses the Small Business Layout Pack from Divi 100. I created each page, created the menu, and set the home page as the static front page.

Importing from the Original Site

The goal is to get the files to the site you want to migrate to.

Step 1


In the site you want to send the files to, go to Current Status and click Migrate/Clone.


Next you need to create a key. Enter a name for the key in the field labeled Enter your chosen name. Next choose the encryption size you want for the key from the drop-down box. The larger the size the better the encryption, but it will also take longer to migrate. Once you’re ready click Create key. The key will appear in the field labeled Your new key. Copy this key to paste into the sending site.

Step 2


In the site you want to migrate from or to create a clone of, go to Current Status and click Migrate/Clone. Paste the key into the first field and click Add site.


The site the key is from will appear in a drop-down box labeled Send to site. Select it and click Send.


It will then test the connection. If the connection is good you’ll get a screen with boxes where you can select what items to migrate. You can migrate:

  • Database
  • Plugins
  • Themes
  • Uploads
  • Any other directories within the wp-content folder

Once you’ve made your selections click Send.


UpdraftPlus will start the migration process.


Once the files are sent to the other site you’ll get a message that remote send has completed and to log into the remote site to restore the backup set.


The receiving site will now show the files as an existing backup.

Step 3

Click Restore to install the migrated files onto the new location.


Before performing the restore you’ll get the chance to choose which files you want to install. Select all of the files you want to install and click Restore. After the restore is complete all of the files on this site will have been replaced by the files in this restore set.

To migrate the database you’ll also need to select the box that says Search and replace site location in the database. This will move all of the references to the site location to this site. This is a crucial step. If you don’t select this then all of the URL’s will point to the original site. This is the same code as the searchandreplaceb2.php script.


You’ll see one final warning that all of your files are about to be replaced. If you’re ready then click Restore.


UpdraftPlus will now start the restoration. Leave the browser open to this page.


UpdraftPlus will display the progress as it performs the migration. It’s important to wait for the restoration to complete. The time it takes will vary depending on the size of the files but it can take a while. The site will be placed in maintenance mode until the migration is complete. It will tell you when it’s finished. If you have any issues you might have to restore each set individually. Once the migration is complete you will have to login again.

Note – the login credentials will be from the site you migrated from.

The Result


All of the content imported (pages, menus, even the home page was set as the front page), but it was obvious that I needed to activate Divi (which also imported). Once Divi was activated the site migration was complete and the site needed no other adjustments.


Other Methods

If the files fail to migrate to the new site (caused by server time-out issues, etc.) you will need to use one of the other methods to get the files to your website. All of these processes work practically the same. Your options include:

Download and Upload the Files Manually

One option is to download and upload the files by hand.



In the site you want to migrate from, create backups and then click on each backup set (Database, Plugins, Themes, Uploads, and Others). Click Download to your computer for each file.



In the site you want to migrate to go to Existing Backups and select Upload backup files. Drag and drop the files just like any media. Once the upload is complete you can restore from the uploaded files just like performing the migration. Be sure to select search and replace site location just like before.

Connect to Offline Storage


Connect your site to offline storage and your files will appear as an existing backup. If they don’t appear then select Rescan remote storage. You can migrate the site by selecting Restore as normal. The only difference is where the files are physically located. You can also download the files from these links.

Upload Files Via FTP


To set up FTP you’ll need an FTP server with a remote path. Alternately you can use an FTP client such as FileZilla or the one provided by your host and send the files to wp-content  > Updraft. Once you’ve uploaded your files you might need to rescan the local server. Your files will now appear and you can restore (or migrate) as normal. The regular edition of Updraft only supports non-encrypted FTP. For increased security you’ll need an add-on.


The UpdraftPlus dashboard includes links for support and FAQ. The support page (which runs on Divi btw) includes FAQ, forums (the WordPress support forum for the free version and a paid support forum for the premium version), and a YouTube channel with video tutorials.


Add-ons include the offline storage services and several other upgrades. Additional add-ons include:

  • Automatic backups
  • Network/multisite (UpdraftPlus is multisite compatible, however it will only import to another multisite without this add-on)
  • Backup time and scheduling
  • More files
  • Multiple storage destinations
  • No ads
  • Support
  • Reporting
  • Importer
  • More database options
  • Lock settings

Final Thoughts

UpdraftPlus is a great tool to backup, restore, or migrate your website. Performing these tasks can be crucial for keeping your website running. With a few simple steps you can maintain a recent backup in case your site needs to be restored or moved to another location.

Do you have any UpdraftPlus tips to share?

Featured Image via Julia Tim /


  1. Unfortunately, when it comes to both backup and migration, size matters – a lot.

    Updraft can handle large backups if you send the file to an FTP or such, but migration (with their $35 upgrade) doesn’t work with large sites. There are better solutions, albeit not cheaper ones.

    • Randy A. Brown

      Hi Bob. Thanks for the info. I’ve had better luck using uploads or FTP to migrate large sites than with using the transfer method.

  2. Great guide to updraft very informative, how does you feel updraft compares to the backup and cloning in managewp?

  3. Great article Randy, very detailed information really appreciate it.

    • Randy A. Brown

      Thanks Rob!

  4. I’m assuming it works well with Divi?

    • Randy A. Brown

      Hi Bud. Yes!!! It works great with Divi 🙂

  5. UpdraftPlus works well for me on every site and the migrate tool is great. Use it a lot.

  6. Thanks for this great detailed article. I use Updraft on all my websites for clients with automated backups to Amazon – it works brilliantly. Great for migrations too.

  7. Hi!! Nice article. Always is good two know other admin tools. I’m using managewp and the clone option works fine. Want to knows any other experience with managewp or article in the future.

  8. This article is great because most people need help on how to navigate WordPress because it can become very difficult. I have been a WordPress user for over a year now and I still find areas I am not sure on. I also think this is a great blog because it provides pictures on how to navigate the page which are extremely helpful.

  9. Great rundown! I love Updraftplus. Like Neal Ghoshal I use it on all my websites with automated backups to Amazon. I’ve tried dropbox, but find the backups take longer to run.

  10. It seems like Duplicator (by Life in the Grid) would be better than this

  11. Really nice guide. Thank you

  12. Good to know! I am doing it manually!

  13. Really nice post Randy.

    It is possible to use the same method to transfer a single WP installation for a WP Multisite network?

    Are you think in create any post about this kind of WP transfer?

    • Randy A. Brown

      Hi Ricardo. You can migrate a single installation from a multisite to another multisite. The process is the same.

      If you want to transfer between standalone and multisite you’ll need an addon.

  14. Great article. This will help us a lot when migrating our local Divi site to our cloud servers. Thanks for the guide. Bookmarked 🙂

  15. I use Updraft for backing up and restoration. I have also used it to migrate a large site. I pair it with Dropbox and have had excellent results. I highly recommend both!

  16. I do fairly straightforward wordpress sites (meaning fairly small). I use UpdraftPlus to back up my sites to Dropbox and I’ve also used it, without the add-on to create a sandbox site from an online site.

    I really like this product. The code is clean and aligns to wp’s guidelines (no cURL). The user interface is straightforward. You can set it to do a scheduled backup and forget it.

    More to the point, it’s saved my bacon three times in the last 3 months. restores are just as easy as backups.

  17. Fantastic post full of great information. However for a free backup restore workflow that just works, it has to be Akeeba Backup.

  18. This was an ultimate guide, thanks for this post Randy Brown. This saves huge time in migration….

  19. Once I tried to use a plugin to migrate my multisite WordPress installation from live site to local server and failed. In the end I resorted to manually download and upload WordPress content files and do the search and replace database method. Worked on first trial.

  20. I have a question. I have my backups sent to my remote Dropbox Storage. Is there a way to have Updraft send to remote storage and then automatically delete from the website plugin? The updraft files take up so much space, so I only want them in Dropbox but I watch over multiple websites so it would be too time consuming for me to go and clean every site out every week.

    • Hi you set the number of backup versions to store and the plug in deletes the oldest version at the end of the upload of the latest back up

      • It can also delete local copy on server after uploading it’s all in the settings

  21. Can you migrate a site that has a wordpress site currently on it? Will it just delete whats already on the site your migrating to?

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