Plugin Review: WPvivid Backup Plugin

I’ve previously reviewed and recommended the UpdraftPlus Backup plugin. The WPvivid Backup and Migration Plugin does basically the same task, roughly as well, and has advantages for large sites. You might choose either based on your needs. Each of them has a free version and a “pro” version with additional features.

There are two main reasons I’ve come to like WPvivid — things the free version does that the free version of Updraft doesn’t.

  • WPvivid supports more offsite backup services at no cost, including Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, Amazon S3, and FTP. It doesn’t have an email option, but once a site accumulates a lot of data, email isn’t a great choice anyway.
  • WPvivid is designed to do migrations, not just backup. The problem with Updraft is it puts all the backup information into a couple large files. You can download those files, but to restore them (at the same place or elsewhere), you have to upload those same files. WordPress has a size limit on uploads (typically in the vicinity of 100MB). If the files exceed that limit, “restoring” as part of a migration becomes problematic. You can pay for a version that does better, but WPvivid already includes the ability to break up the backup into files that don’t exceed a limit you specify.

NOTE: After reading the above, you might be asking yourself how Updraft is supposed to work at all with large sites. The answer is that the cloud options, like Dropbox, still work, and also you can restore from backups held on your own web server. Of course if your web server is toast, its backups aren’t available. Backups on the web server don’t work for migrations either, because there’s no way to get them to the new server.

Caveats

If you want to move an existing website to a new hosting provider, the Auto-Migration option of this plugin won’t work for you if you use shared hosting (I’m discussing this with the developers). You can still accomplish the migration “manually” by creating a backup, downloading the backup, uploading it onto the new site, and “restoring” it.

Note: also see my comprehensive website migration checklist.

Whichever way you do it, to avoid an outage of your website, it’s best to do this transfer before switching the DNS to the new hosting provider. But only one server can be answering requests to “mydomain.com” at any given time, so you need an alternate way to access the new site.

If you have a dedicated server, you can use the IP address of the server. However, you probably have the much less expensive shared hosting. You can’t access your website on a shared server with just the IP address, because that’s the address of all the servers on that site.

Your new hosting provider may give you a way to access the new site with an alternate temporary URL. If so, you can use that to login to the WP dashboard, install WPvivid, and upload your backup. If the hosting company doesn’t provide this, you can either edit your “hosts file” on your PC to make it think the website is at the new address, or use the website hosts.cx, which lets you enter the IP address of your server and the DNS name you want it to fake for you.

I prefer hosts.cx because caching and weird browser tricks can sometimes make the browser display content from the old site anyway. But either way does the job.

Using WPvivid, the backup of a large site is broken into multiple files which individually don’t exceed the upload size limit of WordPress. You upload this to the WPvivid backup/restore screen on new site, then tell it to restore. I had a problem with the restore process timing out, which I fixed by going into the plugin’s Settings > Advanced screen, where I set PHP script execution timeout for restore to a high number (I used 9000, which is probably excessive). The restore is very slow, but it does work.

The restore process displays messages about its progress as it runs, and initially I thought there was a problem because it seemed to be stuck in a loop processing the same backup files multiple times. Don’t panic! It’s not stuck, just slow. It is processing the same files multiple times, but doing different things with them each time. It’ll eventually finish.

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