This is a simple guide that demonstrates how you can log in to a host that offers the CPanel tools to backup all of your website files (and databases). Backing up your website should be done often and especially before you migrate to any another website host. I used to change hosts every few years (they don’t own your site, you do).
I have a number of guides on moving away from CPanel, setting up VM’s on UpCloud, AWS, Vultr or Digital Ocean along with installing and managing WordPress from the command line copying files to a server via command line editing remote files locally etc but how do you manage a website with CPanel?
You can normal login to CPanel tools on a shared host by loading www.yourdomainnam.com/cpanel (failing that login to your domain hosts web GUI and find your CPanel interface there).
Step 1: Login to your Host
Login to your web host
Step 2: Find your CPanel Interface
Hosts are a bit different but in this case, I just click my domain to find the CPanel link.
I found it, I clicked the CPanel login.
Step 3: CPanel Applications
CPanel does offer good tools to manage your websites like web-based File Manager and Database tool called phpMyAdmin.
Aside: CPanel/Hosts Downsides
The thing I don’t like about hosts that offer CPanel is they usually limit delivery of your website to extract more money. Nothing worse than receiving Resource Limit Is Reached errors.
Also shared hosts usually lag way behind in newer software versions like PHP and MySQL (this is a security concern).
TIP: You can scan your site for vulnerabilities using Qualsys Freescan, Zap or Kali Linux.
Here is a security scan of a shared host (with CPanel) that I was using in 1999. Note the high vulnerabilities and old version of Linux.
Also, a shared host will often overcharge you (e.g $150 a year) for a poorly configured SSL certificate.
This was an SSL cert I paid $150 a year for (evaluated with SSL Labs SSL Test) on a shared host with CPanel.
Aside: Self Managed Upsides
After I moved my domain to a self-managed virtual machine I migrated WordPress, set up a free SSL certificate, sped up my site with a CDN, setup Cloudflare, setup better TLS security etc
When you manage your own server you can install a free SSL certificate in under 1 minute.
Below is my SSL certificate. A strong SSL certificate will increase search engine traffic
Aside: Compare Shared host speed v Self Managed
FYI: https://gtmetrix.com/ is a great site for measuring the speed of a website (shared of self-managed). I found great speed improvements after moving away from a host offering CPanel, tweaking the server and setting up cloudflare. A self-managed server will allow you to tweak anything you want.
I like how self-managed servers allow you to scale the server’s resources yourself, move servers or add storage etc.
Aside: SSL Certificate
If you have an SSL cert you should test it often as vulnerabilities pop up from time to time.
FYI: All sites will soon require an SSL certificate to be sent traffic from search engines (no SSL = lower traffic).
SSL Test my site: https://dev.ssllabs.com/ssltest/analyze.html?d=fearby.com&s=188.8.131.52
Now enough with the self-managed serve asides and back to how to backup your website with CPanel tools.
Step 4: Backup your web files in CPanel
Use the File Explorer app in CPanel
Highlight all files that you want to backup (highlight everything but not past backup files).
View the files to compress summary
Click Compress Files(s) and view the backup progress
You can now download the backup zip file in your browser (click the file and click Download).
Step 5: Backup your database in CPanel
Now we need to backup any MySQL database(s) that may be used by WordPress
Open the phpMyAdmin app in CPanel.
FYI: Alternatively, you can use a free tool called Adminer to backup and restore our database.
Click your WordPress database (on the left). You can identify your current WordPress database by opening the wp-config.php file.
The first step is to perform an online cold backup of the WordPress database.
- Click the database you want to backup (on the left)
- Click the Options tab
- Under the Copy To frame enter a new database name to copy the database too
- Click Go
Now you have an online cold spare that you can use just in case the original database corrupts itself. You can rename the database or configure WordPress to point to this new database if need be.
Now let’s download a copy of the database (Repeat for multiple databases).
- Click the database you want to backup
- Click the Export tab
- Click Go
You should now have a backup of your website in a zip file and an export of your database in a .sql text file, SQL files can be re-imported to databases later.
TIP: Backup often.
I hope this guide helps someone.
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