How to manage backups when developing websites as freelance?

  • I have my clients purchase web hosting space from a provider of their choice.
  • I develop the website and upload it to their hosting space.
  • Provide option of extended technical support.


The websites tend to be dynamic with various data stored into the database.

I am unable to routinely backup the dynamic sites because a) it is too time consuming and b) too costly for my clients. Ideally I need to offload that liability because if a server fails (or provider ceases to exist) and backups are also lost, how are my clients going to recover?

Should my clients be downloading backups and storing them in a safe place?

Likewise upgrading WordPress releases occasionally introduce breaking changes that require plugins to be updated. What is the best practice for charging for WordPress upgrades?

What do other freelancers tend to do?

3 Answers 3


It depends on the nature of the site. If it's a static site you've developed for a client, you will (well, you should...) always have a copy on your machine which will be a perfectly good backup (it's static...). If it's a dynamic site, you may want to recommend a hosting provider to your clients that will take care of auto-backups or look at scheduling a backup to your own system.

Should your clients want Wordpress upgrades it's simply a case of backing up the site in any way you see fit (see above...) and having access to the admin backend of Wordpress, or FTP access if necessary.

  • I have updated the question to further clarify my issue.
    – Lea Hayes
    Aug 24, 2011 at 15:14
  • 2
    If you want to offload the liability of server failures to your client, just put that in your contract/terms and conditions that they agree to. If it is possible for your client to backup their site themselves, then by all means, why shouldn't they? If a wordpress update is released you don't HAVE to update. Only update if you're worried about breaking plugins if a new wordpress release features functionality you could benefit from - unless of course there are security issues that have been addressed.
    – Anonymous
    Aug 24, 2011 at 15:22
  • The solution for static sites assumes the client never updates the site or that you will always have the most up-to-date version of it. I'm not entirely sure, but isn't it standard practice in freelance web dev/design to hand over a site to the client once completed and leave them to change/run it as they wish? Aug 18, 2017 at 23:01

WordPress upgrades are easy to do as WordPress has a built in upgrade mechanism that makes upgrading very easy to do. Just click on the "updates" link at the top of the menu. It's that easy. With the exception of customized themes you don't need to worry about keeping hard copies of the files that make WordPress go because you can always grab the latest copy from the WordPress website.

Backing up the database is easy if you install a plugin designed to do that for you. WordPress Database Backup can automate the process for you. Then in the event of a database failure you can use your back up to restore it to its previous state.

  • I have updated the question to further clarify my issue.
    – Lea Hayes
    Aug 24, 2011 at 15:15
  • I create custom themes for my clients, but I do keep a safe copy of those just in case. The main issue is with dynamic data.
    – Lea Hayes
    Aug 24, 2011 at 15:17
  • 2
    Then any database backup plugin is what you should be looking for. It handles the backup of that dynamic content for you. Some of them even zip and email it to you so you don't even have to manually go and retrieve it. It's all automated.
    – John Conde
    Aug 24, 2011 at 15:26

You can use wordpress DB backup plugin and move the data weekly or daily to the rackspace backup host or Amazon S3 or Jungledisk. Ask your client to choose this route for the managed backups. You can setup this for your client if you want. Wordpress plugins have weekly and daily backup system that syncs with the hosts like amazon S3. There are many plugins that support popular backup sites like dropbox, amazon s3 and rackspace or jungledisk.

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