How to Restore Your WordPress Site in Less Than 1 Hour

I ran into a horrible dilemma yesterday and it would have cost this whole blog it’s life but luckily using a few tools, I had a backup of the database which helped me restored everything. Strangely, everyone always preaches backing up but don’t really explain how you can put it back up online.

So today’s article will explain what I did to restore this blog back to it’s original state with a couple of exceptions. You’re going to at least lose one article, some comments or the last tweaks from several hours ago. No biggie but yet, it still hurts. Hopefully, from this lesson alone, you’re backing up your site daily if not, twice as it begins to accumulate.

Without further ado, let’s carry on.

If you’ve accidentally uninstalled WordPress

Before you reinstall, make sure you go into your web hosting dashboard and back up everything you got under your site’s folder. You can do this with a FTP (file transfer protocol) program which your host suggests or use the browser version which they provided. This will allow you to click and drag over the content to your hard drive’s preferred path.

Why? If you’re going to reinstall, the new configurations won’t overwrite the old files. Your old files kept the configurations of your old blog. So you want to back up these files which has all the uploaded media you’ve been putting up for the past couple of months or more.

Depending on how old your site is, the wait can be about 5 minutes to half an hour. It took me about 10 minutes but once that is done you can then re-install WordPress onto your domain name using your web host 1-click install.

install the same version of wordpress you had before, not update it

If updating your WordPress version is something you want to do now, you may do so but I suggest not because if your site has been using an older version, configured for it, then you might be running into some errors, namely with plugins and theme integration. That’s going to mean more down time and a whole lot of technical tweaking.

Now you’ve got WordPress installed

You’ll notice that all your original posts are gone, even your site’s design is set to a template. Tear. Tear. I feel you. If you go on over to your plugins installation you’ll noticed that they’re still all there, just not activated. OK good.

Here are two of the most important plugins you’ll need to restore the site back with all your original articles and pages. Make sure you get the latest versionwhich will be stable enough with your WordPress version!

  • WP-DBmanager or your preferred database backup plugin
  • WP Super Cache or your preferred caching plugin

Thanks to WP-DBmanager, I already had a backup of the database of the site on my web host server. However, here’s the sad part, it was backed up from the previous day. So the current post, if you have had one will be lost. Don’t worry I’ll show you how to back those up too if you so happen to get worried. But first, let’s carry on with restoring your database files.

Activate the plugin if you haven’t already done so. Head on down towards:

Database – Manage Backup DB

Manage Database inside WP-DBmanager

You’re going to then get the latest databases you have on your server, now if you haven’t already installed a database backup plugin yet, now’s the time to do so!Don’t prolong backing up until it hits you, because when you get to this part, you’re going to be hit dead on. Let’s not make it happen.

Restore your database

Below you’ll notice I already had some past databases. This is helpful if you’ve upgraded your WordPress to a newer version and got errors and want to downgrade back. Restoring from your backup database will bring back the older version. Likewise, you want to choose the latest backup. In this case, you’ll see the newer version for today below but I had to opted for the July 19, 6:19 am file, which before the problem occurred was all I had.

Wp-DBmanager timeline table

Notice that the files are in SQL, an extension for the common database language file in the structured query language system. You have the option to compress these files into a GZip file but because you don’t have to. Here it’s saved in it’s entirety on my web hosting server. If you want to compress yours you can do so. We’ll get to that in a moment.

Now, choose the data you want restored, the e-mail you want the backup file sent to and click on RESTORE. Give it a couple of moments and then continue on.

You’ve restored the backup database, now what?

Check your site to see if all your original posts and pages are back. You’ll notice that there’s a slight change in your theme. But that’s OK, the point is are the pages there? Click on a link and test it out. You’ll notice that you’ll get a 404 error.

OK, now’s the time to repair your database and optimize it as well. Doing both will sync your site with the restored pages so that search engines will look for the pointers you’ve restored. Thus, it won’t produce those 404 errors that will become frighteningly scary.

WP-DBmanager repair

All you have to do is select YES to all the options and click on REPAIR. It might take a minute so be patient. Next, on top of the Repair DB option is Optimize DB. Just like repairing, you just select all the options and click on OPTIMIZE.

You’ll notice that it’s suggested to optimize your database each month. It won’t hurt to do it weekly though. Helps your site load faster and also your content organized.

From this point, you want to activate or install WP Super Cache or your preferred caching plugin. Once you’ve done so, delete the cache. This will refresh your site and actually let you see everything restored from the database backup. Click on the links and pages you got. Are they there? Are you still getting 404 errors?

Go back and repeat the process from restoration again. See if that will help.

Some minor disappointments worth changing

You’re not going to be entirely satisfied with the backup. At least I wasn’t because I still lost a post, some comments and also the theme was out of sync. In order to save myself from those miseries for the future, I did a backup and configuration of several more areas:

  • Thesis’s configurations
    • Thesis – Manage Options – Download Options – All Options
    • This will export a .dat file with the current date, great for organizing
  • exported WordPress content
    • Tools – Export – Download Export File
    • This will export a .xml file with all your wordpress content also with current date
  • changed the schedule of database backups to a shorter timeframe
    • Database – DB Options
    • Take a look at this section CAREFULLY because this will enable you to have more or less backups. You can set the maximum backup files – default is 10. Then under Automatic Scheduling, set when you want to backup and when you want to optimize. Here’s where you can set if you want your files saved as a compressed GZip or not. Then save your changes and you’re all set.

While I was on the brink of giving up in looking for that last post, I forgot, I also had a subscription to my RSS feed. Thankfully, that saved me because it syndicated the latest content and I had it in my e-mail box. So subscribe to your own feed if you haven’t already done so. It’s good recordkeeping plus a great place to restore content if all else fails.

What happened was TweetMeme also referenced to this post in a certain link. All I did was:

  • repost the content
  • set it to the correct date
  • set the permalinks correctly

This put me back in business and while it was a bucket of sweat, it was worth shedding!

Worst Case Scenario

Downtime is something you don’t want from your blog. One of the tools which will help you monitor your downtime is UpTimeRobot. Not only that, it will also let you know when your site goes back up.

uptime robot logoI’ve been using it for the past couple of weeks and am surprise with the results it has given me. I’m learning more about my web host’s ability to serve me better and times which I should be aware of. The usability is really straight-forward. So it’s an analytic tool which you should keep handy to track your site’s downtime.

Best of all it’s FREE.

Another thing is ranking. Who knows how much visitors I’ve lost or even comments which are bringing in link juice. While those are just some possibilities. Losing your work is something you don’t want happen. So while the longer your site is offline, the rankings will fall off too.

Thus, I was lucky. Very lucky to have backups of the content and also approached the situation as promptly as I could.

Yours could be a matter of more difficulty. If so, ask your web host provider to do the technical stuff for you. Call them to back up what they can of your site from their backups. Don’t be happy yet, some might have it a week prior so you’re still going to miss out at least some posts, comments or changes.

Look on the bright side, better to have most of it than none.

I hope this article will help you ensure the future of your site as well as save you from any loss in profits, mental misery or even ongoing efforts.

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