How to backup your WordPress site to Amazon S3 using BackWPup backup plugin (Part 3 of 5)

by StressLessWeb on June 28, 2011

in Technical

This article series will give you step-by-step instructions for formulating and implementing your backup strategy:

Part 1) Introduction
Part 2) How to install BackWPup WordPress backup plugin
Part 3) How to sign-up for Amazon S3 to store your backup files offsite
Part 4) How to configure BackWPup to store your wordpress website backups on Amazon S3
Part 5) How to restore your website from your backups

In the previous article in this series we installed the BackWPup plugin and created a job for doing manual backups.

This is Part 3 of 5 in the series. It provides instructions for signing up for Amazon S3.
The step-by-step instructions with screenshots will take all the guesswork out of the Amazon S3 registration process.

Why use Amazon S3 for storing your backups?

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Setting up a backup process for your blog or website is one of the most important things that many people ignore. It is like insurance — by the time you need it, its too late. We don’t setup a backup process either because we don’t realize its importance (until it is too late). Or because we are too lazy. Or it looks too daunting. Or we just don’t know how.

Sometimes people setup a backup process, but keep the backup files on the same server that runs their website. Sure, this is better than not setting up any backup process at all, but this leaves them expose to the eventuality of losing their backups if the system running the website crashes. To be really safe, backup files should be stored somewhere other than the server running your website. That is, you should store your backups “offsite”.

Now, storing your backups “offsite” simply means storing your backups in some place other than the machine that is running your website. This means you have the following options:

  1. Email: This is the easiest to understand. You can have the backup program email the backup files to youself, but some email services do not allow large files to be attached to emails (and backup files can get large).
  2. Download it manually: You can manually download the backup file. But this means you have to remember to do this on a regular basis. This is not the best use of your time.
  3. FTP: Some backup programs also allow you to FTP the backup files to another machine. But this requires to have another hosting service that you can FTP the files to — most people don’t have another hosting service.

So, what is the best option for “offsite” backup storage?

Enter Amazon S3.

Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service) is a web-based cloud-storage service. Basically, it means that you can store any data (such as you backup files) “in the cloud” on Amazon.com’s servers and take advantage of Amazon’s scale and reliability. Amazon S3 is <quote>designed to provide 99.999999999% durability and 99.99% availability of objects over a given year <end-quote>. Although recent events demonstrated that even Amazon can have a bad day, using Amazon S3 for storing your backups is still a good solution.

And the best part is, for most people, it won’t cost them anything.

At the time of this writing, Amazon offers a “Free Usage Tier” which should allow most small websites to use Amazon S3 for backups for free.

Amazon S3 Pricing (it could be FREE for you)

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The best part of using Amazon S3 is that, for most people, it won’t cost anything. Signing up for an Amazon S3 account is free. you only pay when you use the service — and that too ONLY if your usage goes above the Free Usage Tier.

At the time of this writing, Amazon offers a “Free Usage Tier”, which gives you free storage of up to 5GB of storage per month.

A zipped up backup file for a typical small business wordpress website will be under 1 GB (most likely it will be less than 500MB) — so you are covered by the 5GB size.

The “Request Pricing” chart relates to the number of times you will perform backups. Every time you perform a backup, the backup file gets uploaded to Amazon S3. This results in one “PUT” request to Amazon. If you download your backup file from Amazon S3 (say to your local machine), this results in one “GET” request.
Amazon’s Free Tier allows 1,000 PUT requests (thats the number of times you can create backup files and upload to Amazon) in a month. And it allows 20,000 GET requests (that’s the number of times you can download your backup files in a month)! That’s more than enough for the purpose of backing up your website.

There is one more consideration: The size of the backup file that you will be uploading to Amazon S3 every time you backup over the period of a month.
Amazon’s Free Tier allow a total of 15 GB data to be uploaded to Amazon S3 in a month.

Let’s use an example to illustrate this.

Let’s say the size of your backup file is 1 GB. and let’s say you have setup your backup program to run once a week. Let’s also assume that there are 5 weeks in a month (there are about 4.5 — but lets be on the safe side).
This means that in a month you will upload 5GB (1 GB x 5) worth of data to Amazon every month. This is well under 15 GB.

Most small websites should be able to use Amazon S3 for storing their backups once a week for FREE !

This article will walk you through each step of signing up for an Amazon S3 account. The provided screenshots should, hopefully, take all the guesswork out of the signup process. And remeber, it costs nothing to signup — you get charged only when you start using the service, and that too only if you exceed the usage provided in the Free Usage Tier. So go ahead and sign up NOW :-)

Create an Amazon S3 Account: Step 1

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Go to http://aws.amazon.com/s3/
Click on the ‘Sign Up Now’ button and enter your desired login username and password

Create an Amazon S3 Account: Step 2

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Enter your Contact Information

Create an Amazon S3 Account: Step 3

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Create an Amazon S3 Account: Step 4a

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Now Amazon verifies that you say who you are.
In order to verify your identity, Amazon will call the phone number you provided.

Create an Amazon S3 Account: Step 4b

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As soon as you click the “Call Me Now” button, a 4 digit PIN will be displayed on the screen.
And your phone will ring.
Answer the phone when it rings.
An automated message will ask you to enter the PIN that is displayed on the screen.
Enter the 4 digit PIN in your phone

Create an Amazon S3 Account: Step 4c

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As soon as you enter the PIN on the phone, the screen will change to show you the ‘continue’ button.

Your Identity Verification is complete.

Click the ‘continue’ button.

Create an Amazon S3 Account: Await Confirmation Email

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Once you click the ‘continue’ button, you will see the above page.

Check your email account. You should see two emails from Amazon Web Services.

Check your email for confirmation

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The email with the subject “AWS Unified Registration Sign-Up Confirmation” indicates that your account has been activated.

Congratulations! You have successfully creating an Amazon S3 account!

Now you are ready to configure BackWPup to store your backups on Amazon S3. This will be covered in the next article: How to backup your WordPress site to Amazon S3 using BackWPup backup plugin (Part 4 of 5)

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

JT September 15, 2011 at 4:09 pm

I must say that this is one of the most resourceful, in-depth WordPress-related articles I’ve ever come across. I don’t know who you are, but it’s clear that you’ve invested a great deal of time putting it together. Once parts 4 & 5 are complete, you should seriously consider pitching it to places like wpcandy, wpbeginner or wp.tutsplus.

Nice work.

Reply

StressLessWeb September 16, 2011 at 5:07 am

Thanks JT

Reply

Evan R. Murphy October 16, 2011 at 5:27 am

Indeed, I found this article helpful, thorough and well-written. Thanks!

Reply

StressLessWeb October 20, 2011 at 5:07 am

Thanks Evan. I am glad you found it helpful.

Reply

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