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How to Manually Restore a WordPress Website from a Backup (in 5 Steps)

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In the WordPress community, the importance of regular website backups is regularly emphasized. Yet a lot of people don't realize how critical they are until they're dealing with a broken site.

When this happens, there is no better feeling than knowing that you have a copy of your site that you can use to grab your work. As long as your database and files are backed up, you have a way to manually restore your WordPress website.

Editor's Note: It is advisable to always have a secondary backup copy saved to an external destination. Just in case 😉

In this article, we'll walk you through when you might need to restore your site from a backup, and the methods available to do so. Then we will walk you through how to do it manually in five steps. Let's go!

Why would you want to restore your WordPress site from a backup

Backing up your WordPress files and database allows you to restore them if something goes wrong with your site. If your website is hacked and degraded by a cybercriminal, for example, having a recent copy allows you to recover your site and restore it to its previous state.

You might be well versed in web development and programming while still having something unexpected on your site. Theme incompatibilities, a plugin vulnerability, or even a user playing with your site code can result in a website that goes beyond basic troubleshooting.

Regardless of what happens to your site, the important thing is to fix the problem and make sure your content is available to users. Restoring a recent backup is often the fastest way to recover from a WordPress disaster. This may then give you time to resolve the problem.

Common Methods to Restore WordPress Backups

There are different ways to create and restore WordPress backups. One method is to use a plugin such as UpdraftPlus, BlogVault, or ManageWP. While these tools can be useful, they are also sometimes limiting.

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For example, you will only be able to save your backups using the storage options supported by your plugin. Additionally, you may not be able to use the failback option if you are unable to access your site's backend.

Another method is to go through your host. Many web hosts include backups in their plans, while others offer this service as an add-on. It often includes a "one-click" restore option.

However, your web host can save site backups on the same server that stores your site. If it is compromised in some way, your website and your latest copy could be lost.

For this reason, it's always a good idea to save your most recent backup to your own computer or cloud storage account. Then, if all else fails, you can still manually restore your WordPress website.

This process is a bit complicated compared to restoring your site with a plugin or through your hosting account. However, manually recovering a damaged site is sometimes the most reliable (or only) route available.

How to Manually Restore a WordPress Website from a Backup (in 5 Steps)

In order to manually restore your WordPress website, you will need backups of your WordPress files and database saved on your local computer. Some basic knowledge of File Transfer Protocol (FTP) and phpMyAdmin is also helpful, but you are not too familiar with these tools, you should still be able to follow the steps below.

Step 1: Log into your hosting account and open phpMyAdmin

First, you will need to log into your hosting account and access phpMyAdmin, the database manager used by WordPress. If your web host uses cPanel, you can click the phpMyAdmin sub icon Databases:

Hosts that use other control panel interfaces should still provide easy access to that platform. You may need to consult your vendor's documentation to find it. Once you have opened phpMyAdmin, go to Databases tongue.

Step 2: Import your backup database

When you start to restore your database, you will have the option to dump your existing database and import your backup into it, or delete it and create a new one for this purpose. If you choose the last route, don't forget to add your new credentials to your wp-config.php drop off.

After locating the database where you want to restore your WordPress backup, click on the button Import tab at the top of the screen:
The Import tab of phpMyAdmin.
Under File to import section, click the Choose file and select your backup database from which you saved it:
Selection of the backup database to import into phpMyAdmin.
Then under the Size section, click the drop-down menu and select SQL:
SQL format settings in phpMyAdmin.
Then click on the Va button. It may take some time for phpMyAdmin to import your backup database, but when done this part of your site (which includes your posts and pages) should be restored.

Step 3: Install and connect to your FTP client

Now that your database is back up and running, it's time to turn your attention to your WordPress files. To restore them, you will need either your web host's file management tool or an FTP client such as FileZilla:
FileZilla download options.
For the latter option, you will need to retrieve your FTP credentials from your hosting account. Much like the link to open phpMyAdmin, the location of this information will vary depending on your provider's control panel interface.

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In cPanel, you can find your credentials by clicking on FTP accounts below Files:
The FTP Accounts icon in cPanel.
Once you have downloaded and launched FileZilla, log in using your credentials and click the button Quick connection button:
Login credentials on FileZilla.
This should establish a connection to your server. You will know it worked when the Status updates from Directory listing of "/" successful.

Step 4: Upload your WordPress backup files

In FileZilla, you will see your local files on the left side of the screen. It is important to make sure that your backup is in an unzipped file and saved on your computer so that it can be accessed here. The "remote site" (your server) will be on the right side:
Local files in FileZilla.
You will now need to delete the old files from your server. Make sure your backup includes any custom code you want to save before you do so, as you won't be able to recover it otherwise. In FileZilla, you can just right click on the old files and select Clear.

Then download your backup. FileZilla allows you to simply drag and drop files from your local computer to your server. Other platforms should have a Download option.

If you are using FileZilla, there will be three tabs at the bottom of the screen: Queued files, failed transfers, et Successful transfers. Queued files are those being downloaded from your local computer to your server.

Once downloaded, your backup files will appear under the Successful transfers tongue. Depending on the size of your site, this process may take a while. Once the Queued files count reaches zero, your restore should be complete.

Step 5: Verify Your Site Has Been Restored Safely

Hope you got this far without any problem. After your files transfer is complete, you'll want to visit your website to make sure everything is working properly.

Start by checking to confirm that your plugins have been transferred successfully. You may need to reinstall and / or re-enable some of them.

It's also possible that the structure of your permalink has changed, which can cause your page and post links to break. To check that they are working correctly, you can access Settings> Permalinks in your WordPress dashboard:
Settings menu in the WordPress dashboard.
We also recommend that you change your WordPress administrator password. You may also want to consider requiring new passwords for all users, including multi-site networks. This is especially important if you are dealing with a hacked website.

Finally, the time has come to install several security and safeguard measures. Hopefully, you never need to restore your WordPress website again. If you do, however, you'll have the necessary knowledge at hand.


Whether your site is degraded by a hacker or a compatibility issue brings it down, knowing how to restore a backup of it is crucial. There are different ways to do this. However, manual restore gives you a bit more control than some of the alternatives.

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As we explained in this article, there are five steps you can take to manually restore a WordPress website backup:

  1. Log into your hosting account and open phpMyAdmin.
  2. Import your backup MySQL database.
  3. Install and connect to an FTP client such as FileZilla.
  4. Upload your WordPress backup files.
  5. Make sure everything is working properly.

Do you have questions on how to manually restore WordPress website from backup? Let us know in the comments section below!

Image credit: Unsplash.

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