If you wan’t to move, copy, clone, migrate, or replicate your WordPress site, then you have come to the right place. No matter what you want to call it, WPBackItUp makes it easy for you to accomplish.
Before we get into the details I would first like to take a few moments to define a few terms that will be used in the remainder of this post. This is important because, as you can see from my first sentence, there are a lot of ways to say the same thing and it can be a little confusing, especially if your native language is not English. So to make the rest of the post a little easier to follow, I would first like to define a few terms that I will be using.
The first term I would like to define is: “migration”. “Migration” is often used to describe taking an existing WordPress site and moving it somewhere else. Somewhere else could be a new host but it could also be a new WordPress install on your existing host. There are many reasons and ways to migrate your WordPress site but for the remainder of this post I will use the term “migration” to describe moving a site from one install to another, where it will no longer exist on the original install.
The next important term I want to define is: “cloning”. “Cloning” is often used to describe making a copy of your WordPress site so that it can run somewhere else. This could be a new host, a local development or testing environment, even a live site. It is the process of taking a snapshot of your site at a point in time and installing that snapshot somewhere else where both sites will exist independently.
The next term I want to describe is: “backup”. Yes I know, you already know what a “backup” is or you wouldn’t even be on this site. But I wan’t to make sure we all have a common understanding of what a WPBackItUp backup is and more importantly what it contains. A WPBackItUp backup is a snapshot in time of a WordPress site. This backup/snapshot will contain all your database content(pages, posts and all configuration), your theme, plugin, and media files. Basically everything that makes your site unique. However, a WPBackItUp backup does not contain the WordPress core files. This is because it is always necessary to have a working version of WordPress as a starting point where the WPBackItUp plugin can run.
Lastly I would like to define the term: “restore”. “Restoring” is the process of taking the backup snapshot of your WordPress site and overlaying the existing install with it. This means that when you perform a restore, everything in your site will be replaced. There are a few exceptions to this which I will cover later in the post.
So now that we are all have clear understanding of the terms I will be using, let’s get into the details. Below I have outlined the steps necessary to migrate or clone your site. The process is the same for both, however, when migrating a site the old site would be disabled. As always please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.
Backup Your Site
The first step in this process is to get a good backup of your WordPress site. Because your WordPress sites changes frequently it is important to backup your site at least once per day. This will allow you to always have the most up to date version at all times. You never know when you are going to need a backup so always be prepared by setting up scheduled backups. Please see our post "How To Backup Your WordPress Site" for detailed steps on how to backup your site manually or schedule daily backups.
Download your Backups
The next step when either migrating or cloning your site is to download your backups to your computer. Even if you aren’t migrating or cloning your site it is always a good idea to save copies of your backups somewhere safe. You may download your backups from the Available Backups section of the WPBackItUp backup page. Here you will see all your successful backups click the download icon to download all files.
Simply click the backup name and you will see all the archive(zip) files that make up your backup set. Clicking the download icon to download it to your computer.
Setup a New WordPress Site
At this point you have everything you need to migrate or clone your WordPress site. No matter which you are attempting, you will first need to setup a new WordPress site and install the WPBackItUp plugin. This new WordPress site is the place where you want your clone or migrated site to run. It could be a new host or the same host, but remember, when you restore your site it will overlay everything,so its best if the new site is just a bare bones install of WordPress. Nothing but the basics and the current version of WPBackItUp of course.
One important thing to note about this new site is that it MUST use the same table prefix as the original site. If you don’t know what a table prefix is or why it needs to be the same then please refer to our post "How to Change your WordPress Table Prefix". This post will walk you through what a table prefix is, how to locate it and what would happens if you don’t change it.
For the remaining steps you will need a licensed version of WPBackItUp. If you already have a license then simply activate it on your new WordPress site. If you haven’t yet purchased one then you can get one here. And remember, we offer a 30 day money back guarantee so if you aren’t happy for any reason then just let us know and we will refund your purchase, it’s that simple.
Upload your Backups
At this point you will need to upload your backups to the new WordPress site. This may be performed by using the upload option on the WPBackItUp restore page. Here you can upload files without any WordPress or Host upload size limitations. Simply select your files using the form and the upload will begin. Please note that large files may take quite a while to complete.
The status of your uploads will be displayed while in progress. When they complete the status bar will display green to indicate success. Below is an example of the successful upload of 5 archives.
Please make sure to upload all the files that were included in your backup. You will not be able to restore any backup that does not include all its original files.
Lastly, it is important that you do not rename your backup files. If these files are renamed then you will not be able to restore this backup.
Restore your Backup
Hang in there because we are getting close to the end. You are finally ready to restore your backup on your new WordPress site. This step is very easy, just chose the backup you want to restore and click the restore link.
WPBackItUp will restore everything that is in your backup to your new site. Below is a screenshot of a successful restore.
Please note that some times you may be prompted to login again after the restore.
You have now successfully cloned or migrated your WordPress site. After restoring your site it is always a good idea to update your permalink settings. Permalinks are the permanent URLs to your individual posts, as well as categories and other lists of postings.
To update these settings click the permalinks option in your WordPress dashboard and then simply click the update settings. It is not necessary to change anything, just clicking the save button will be sufficient.
When you update your permalinks WordPress will also generate rewrite rules and attempt to insert them into the proper .htaccess file. These rules will allow links on your site to function properly and will secure your site so that private folders remain private.
If you would like to learn more about permalinks then please see the WordPress post "Using Permalinks On Your Site".
Some Important Information
I know I said that restoring your backup will replace everything on your site but there are a few necessary exceptions outlined below that you should be aware of.
- The restore will not replace the WPBackItUp plugin that is performing the restore. This is necessary because it would be disastrous to replace WPBackItUp while it is restoring your site so we must leave it intact until the restore is complete. Once the restore is complete the WPBackItUp plugin may be upgraded, deactivated, uninstalled or even deleted, but none of this may happen until the restore has completed successfully.
- The restore will not replace your existing wp-config.php file. This file contains all the configuration WordPress needs to function in the hosting environment you have it installed in. If we were to replace this file with the one in your backup, it could have disastrous consequences, especially if you are migrating your site to a new host. For this reason we do not replace this file, however, this file is contained in your backup for your reference. It can be found in the “main” archive(zip).
- The restore will replace all users profiles except the profile you are logged in with when you perform the restore. This profile will remain even if it did not exist in the original site.
The WordPress Address and Site Address will not be replaced during the restore. This is important because WordPress uses these addresses for all the links in the site so if it does not match the current domain then all your links may be broken. It is OK to change this value after the restore but any time you change these values you should update your permalinks also.
If you decide to change either of these addresses then it is likely some of your links will no longer function. This is because the links in your posts are not updated during the restore and are not changed when you update these settings in WordPress.
One way to avoid this issues is to use relative references as often as possible when creating content. A relative reference is a reference that uses the relative path to a resource instead of an absolute path.
An absolute path contains the entire domain while a relative path does not. An example of an absolute path to an image would look something like this:
A relative path to the same image does not contain the domain so the browser uses the current domain instead. Here is an example of a relative path to the same image as above.
Using this method of content creation would allow you to change your domain with few issues. If you have not used relative references in your content then you may have to update all of your content to reflect the new address.
It is important to note that this issue occurs whenever you change either address on a WordPress site even if you are not migrating or cloning your site.
We are currently working on a tool to help make updating these addresses a lot easier. Please contact us if you are interested in an early release of this product.
We did our best to include everything you need to know when migrating or cloning your WordPress site but feel free to contact us if you have additional questions.
If you would like to read more about this process then below is an extremely detailed WordPress post entitled "Moving WordPress".