If you are a regular visitor to my website you probably know by now, that part of my work is trying to raise the security awareness in business owners. Backing up their website and computer is an essential thing to do for an online entrepreneur. But backing up the website is just one side of the coin. The other one is how to restore a website.

I know I am risking to sound like a broken record, but I also know that the majority of people who shy away from this step, do this because they don’t know how to get started. Not being tech-savvy triggers insecurities and brings up limitations. But often times, it is really not that hard if you just knew how to get started.

So, in today’s article, I want to help you to understand what a restore is and how in generally works. I don’t wish this to anyone, but it does happen that a website needs to be reset. And it doesn’t need to be a security breach. There are a few more scenarios possible.

The ABCs of a Website Restore

Let’s begin to explore the question what a website restore actually is.

To restore a website you first have to have a backup of the website.

Simply speaking, a BACKUP is a copy of your website; a snapshot at a given time.

A RESTORE happens when you take this snapshot and replace the current files of your website with these saved files, the backup.

If you often make changes to your website, you want to make sure you take backups just as often. Don’t rely on your web host to take these backups for you. There may be some web hosts who do offer this service, but most don’t. Part of their duty is to back up the database files your WordPress website is built on. But the actual website files are usually not backed up by your web host. That task is completely up to you.

2 Reasons why you Should Know How to do a Restore

The only way to be 100% sure a backup has actually worked, is to do a restore.

Now, this task is not that trivial, and when doing it manually you should know what you are doing.
Luckily, there are a few good backup plugins for WordPress available. Some of them are free; for others, you’ll have to pay.

restore a website


The difference between free and paid backups does show itself when it comes to restoring.

Why should you care?
I see two very good reasons why you should know how to restore a website.

Reason #1: To make sure the backup is working.

It is necessary because you need to be sure that your backups are actually working. For an online entrepreneur, it can be all about making or breaking it. When things get bad, it can put you out of business!
It’s a risk for your business, and you need to be able to respond to it. That’s what respons-ability is about.

What I mean by ‘working’, is, that all files are being included. And, you do not get any error messages during the restoring process, that indicate there is a problem.

If you never do a test restore, you will never know.

Reason #2: To get familiar with the process of restoring a website.

Should you get into a situation where your website is dead and you need to act immediately, your adrenaline levels will probably be high. And you will feel pretty stressed. That is normal. Most of us would feel stressed in such a situation.

— Now, should you have done a restore before, you will be less nervous, less anxious, less stressed. You already know the basic steps you need to take, and your chances are much higher to master the situation in a sovereign manner.

restore a website

And knowing how to manage such a situation, is priceless.

Options to Restore a Website


Let’s have a look now how you can get started with restoring your website.


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To do a restore, you first need a backup.
The easiest and fastest way to backup a WordPress site is by using a plugin that does exactly that. There are quite a few plugins that do just that. But they differ in the ease of use and the presupposed knowledge a user needs to have.


Free plugins need to be configured by yourself. UpdraftPlus is one the most popular backup plugin, but in its free version, it is a little limited. When you want more features and want the process to be more easy on your side, you’ll have to purchase some Add-ons.


If you want to accept the challenge and do a restore from your backups created with UpdraftPlus, you may want to use this easy-to-follow tutorial written by Matt from the TechSavvy Tigers.


Paid plugins are convenient because they do the work for us. There are several options available, like BackupBuddy, VaultPress or BackupWordPress.


I have been using VaultPress‘ services, and I tested its restoring capabilities a few times with differing setups.

I once had some trouble with a theme update and needed to restore the main website. I also restored the site multiple times to a subdomain to run tests. The restores always went smooth with VaultPress.

Here’s what the dashboard in VaultPress looks like.
You get a well-arranged calendar that shows all the available dates from which you can restore a backup.

restore a backup vaultpress calendar

With only a few mouse-clicks you can restore a backup to either your main website or to an alternative web address, such as a subdomain of your website.

What I find particularly convenient is that you can choose what will be included in the restore.

If for instance, you have a problem with your website after you updated some plugins, you can choose to restore a backup from the last day with the plugins only. The restore process will be super-quick (seconds!), and your website will be back to where it was yesterday!

– So, if you want a reliable, automated version, I can wholeheartedly recommend to you to use VaultPress.

Final Thoughts

Here’s what I think:

When you have to restore a website, it can be a lot of work. It can be, but it doesn’t have to be. It again depends on the tools you are using. If you have to do it manually (like with a free plugin like UpdraftPlus), I think there’s a better way. Your best move could be to invest a little money into the VaultPress plugin.

It’s most affordable plan starts at $3.50/mth., and compared with how much hassle it saves you from … it is more than worth it. Automation does have pitfalls, but with the automated restore of a website, I only see advantages.

I said at the beginning that I am on a mission to raise the security awareness in entrepreneurs. None of us gets born with the perfect knowledge. We all have to educate ourselves and update our knowledge. If you feel for yourself that website and computer security is a bit of a blind spot for you, I invite you to check out my other articles I have written on this topic. In Security vs. Convenience I am contributing to the debate of whether or not a website’s security matters. In A Security Strategy for Small Business Owners I am focusing on more practical steps to secure those open holes that could ruin you or your business on a stormy day.

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