This is a quick review of BackupGuard, a WordPress backup, restore and migrate plugin. I never heard of BackupGuard prior to it being offered on AppSumo, however, the plugin has been around for a long time. I see on YouTube a video from the company from 2016.
BackupGuard Free Version
There is a free version of the plugin available in the WordPress plugin directory. The free plugin has more than 70,000 active installs.
The plugin has more than 800 five star reviews, which is very good. However, I noticed that it also has more than 90 one star reviews, which seems high. I took a quick look at some of the one star reviews and many of them are complaints that the plugin name includes “Migrate” but that the free version does not include the ability to migrate a site.
The support team is active, which is another good sign. I took a quick look at some of the support questions and there were a number of recent ones talking about backup or restore failures. Could a backup plugin with a lot of active installs see a lot of support requests? I took a quick look at the UpDraftPlus support page and it also had a lot of issues being reported, so maybe that comes with the territory for this type of pluign?
On a testing site I installed and activated the free plugin. When you do that you get a new admin menu with several submenus. I ended up dismissing that big banner ad.
I clicked that blue Backup button. These are the options for “Custom.” You can exclude tables if you desire, but otherwise you can pick which high level directories in wp-content you want to exclude.
The free version lets you backup to the Dropbox.
The free version only lets you create one schedule for an automatic backup.
The settings menu has some options to adjust how the backups are made. You can exclude file paths and database tables by manually entering them. I noticed that most of the support responses on WP org were telling people to try adjusting these settings when they had problems.
I took a manual backup and downloaded it. The file format had an extension of “sgbp.” I tried opening that with 7-zip, which will work if it is a zip file, no matter what the extension is named, but that didn’t work. It looks like this is a proprietary archive format, which is not ideal.
BackupGuard Premium Version
The premium version of BackupGuard is available from the company’s website, and for a short time from AppSumo. Here are the regular pricing plans. Note that it says “Lifetime Usage” for the annual plans. I find that kind of wording tends to confuse people.
The premium plans give you the migration option and more backup locations. Only the platinum plan lets you create more than one backup schedule.
I removed the free version and then installed the pro, platinum version. You don’t have to have the free version installed to use the pro version. You get the same admin menus, but they start in a locked state until you connect your account with the company website. Hmmm.
After I logged in, I had to link the site to my account by picking the license.
After linking the domain I was taken to the Backup menu page. Here I noticed that there is a “Migrate” button.
I clicked on the blue Backup button and noticed that there was an additional option for a “Background mode.” Otherwise the other options were the same.
On the Cloud page there were more storage locations available. In addition to Dropbox, there was also Google Drive, FTP / SFTP, S3, and One Drive.
The Schedule screen lets you pick a time (an hour), which wasn’t available in the free version. It also lets you make more than one schedule, as I had the platinum version installed.
On the Settings page I noticed several additional options. These included getting an email notification, the ability to delete the local backup after upload to cloud, FTP passive mode, and setting the backup filename.
I installed BackupGuard Pro on a local site that was a vanilla install with no other plugins.
I installed BackupGuard pro and linked the site. I then imported the backup I had made previously.
After it was imported, I clicked the “reload” circle icon to the far right of the backup name. This gave me a “Manual Restore” dialog.
I clicked the Restore button and the restore process kicked off.
Unfortunately, it got stuck at 99%. I looked at the PHP error logs and found that the Must Use caching plugin installed by my hosting provider on the source site was throwing an error. Rats, though I guess that is not BackupGuard’s fault.
Well, this was a local testing site, do I dropped it and recreated it. That took less than 5 minutes. I also read the BackupGuard docs on Migration. What I found in the docs was that you were supposed to click the Migrate button on the source site to create a migration package. I have no idea if or how that “migration” package is different than a regular backup?
Anyway, back on the source site, I looked to see if I could exclude individual plugins, and I couldn’t. So, I went to the settings menu and excluded the “mu-plugins” directory. I also went into the settings for the cache plugin and turned it off.
I then went to the Backup screen and clicked the Migrate button. In the dialog I gave the migration package a name and clicked Backup. I then downloaded the backup.
Back on the local testing site, I installed the BackupGuard pro plugin again, imported the backup / migration package, and clicked the import button. It looks like you can import from the cloud, which is nice. I clicked the Next button.
I picked the backup file and clicked Import.
I then clicked the restore icon.
In the dialog I picked full restore.
The restore kicked off and made it to 99% again. I let it sit there for 5 minutes before giving up.
This time, I didn’t see anything in the PHP error logs, so it was just a fail.
Just a quick note, on the BackupGuard website there is a place to download the latest version of the pro plugin and another place where you can link or unlink your sites.
Discussion and Conclusions
I wanted to like BackupGuard because the AppSumo deal was pretty nice. I started to wonder a bit when I saw so many 1 star reviews on WordPress org.
The free version seemed somewhat limited. UpDraftPlus free supports a lot of cloud destinations and schedule options. Also, WPVivid supports a lot of cloud options and migration in the free version. Given that those have more features and I’ve used them successfully in the past, I don’t see any reason to use BackupGuard free.
I’m not a big fan of proprietary backup formats, though BackupGuard has an archive extractor, if you need it (props Michael Edwin).
I didn’t particularly find the Pro version easier to use than other backup / migration plugins. I own All In One WP Migration and WPVivid, and this didn’t bring anything to the table. It didn’t help that it failed without giving any error message.
For the sake of science, removed BackupGuard Pro from the online source site and installed the free version of All in One WP Migration. I excluded Must Use plugins and exported the site. I rebuilt the local testing site and installed the free version of All in One WP Migration plugin there also (The premium version is needed if the archive size is over 512MB and this was smaller, so the free version was fine). The site imported successfully.
All in all, I wasn’t very impressed with BackupGuard free or pro. If it was a new plugin then I might suggest getting it at the good AppSumo LTD price and waiting to see if it improved. However, since this has been around for a while, I think it is now “what you see if what you get.” I hope you found this walk-through and review helpful.