Nearly everything about cPanel is intimidating for newcomers to the webmastering world. Although the term “cPanel” and its odd-looking graphical interface may seem mysterious, cPanel is simply an online place that website administrators or bloggers go to accomplish behind-the-scenes tasks in order to maintain their websites or blogs.
One of those tasks is to perform a full cPanel backup. Most webhosts assure their customers that they perform regular website backups, but with so much time and effort invested in designing and maintaining your site, it makes sense for you to do it, too.
Here are step-by-step instructions for performing a full cPanel backup of your website or blog and saving that backup to your computer:
Backing Up Your Website In cPanel
1. Log onto cPanel with your username and password. You already have this information, because your host required it when you set up your account. The main CPanel screen will open, and you will see a column on the left and a column on the right with sections of icons. Look in the right column for the section titled “Files.”
2. In the “Files” section, find an icon labeled “Backups.” Click on the “Backups” icon, and a window will open called “Backups.”
3. In the “Backups” window, you will find three sections:
- “Backups” (with a short explanation and a tutorial button)
- “Full Backup” (in a box)
- “Partial Backups” (the large area below)
In the “Full-Backup” section, click on “Download or Generate a Full Web Site Backup.” A window will open called “Full Backup” that contains two sections:
- “Backups Available for Download” (a list of backups you’ve generated)
- “Generate a Full Backup”
4. Under the subtopic “Generate a full backup” will be a box labeled “Backup Destination.” Click on the down arrow in the box beside “Backup Destination,” and you’ll see four choices. Select “Home Directory.”
5. Beneath the “Backup Destination” window is a box for your email address. Type your email address in the box, and click on “Generate Backup.” A screen will appear that advises you that a Full Backup is in progress and that you will receive email confirmation of its completion. Receiving the email message allows you to proceed to the next step, which is to download the backup to your computer.
6. Click on “HOME” (in the top-left corner of the screen) to go back to the main cPanel screen.
Downloading The cPanel-Backup File To Your Computer
Now that you’ve done the backup within cPanel, you need to download the backup file to your computer. Here are the final steps:
7. Check your email inbox to ensure that you have received confirmation that your cPanel backup is complete.
8. From the cPanel homepage, look for the section labeled “Files.” In the “Files” section, click on “File Manager.” A small screen called “File Manager Directory Selection” will appear with four options.
9. Select the “Home-Directory” option, and ensure that the name of your site (with its filename extension) appears in the box below the options. Then click “Go.”
10. This will take you to another “File-Manager” screen with folders on the left side and a scroll box on the right. Scroll down the right column until you find the backup file you just created. (Once you find the area in the column where the backups are posted, you’ll have to look for backup with the correct date and time, because the backups do not post in chronological order.) The cPanel-backup filename will look something like:
11. Select the applicable cPanel-backup file by clicking on it once.
12. At the top of the “File-Manager” screen, click on the icon labeled “Download.” (Your browser may post a security-block message above the menu bar asking for your permission to proceed. Click on the message, then click on “download.” Once you’re past the security block, you’ll have to click on the “Download” icon at the top of the “File-Manager” screen again.)
13. A small “File-Download” box will appear that asks you if you want to save the file or find a program online to open it. Click on “Save.”
14. A screen will appear that will allow you to select the folder and to rename the backup file. My recommendation is to leave the backup filename as it is, but it makes sense to create a special folder on your computer for your backup files. Click on “Save,” and the backup file will be saved to the folder you’ve created.
15. Open Windows Explorer to confirm that the backup file is saved to your computer’s hard drive in the folder you created.
Saving The cPanel-Backup File To An External Drive
16. The final step is to save the backup file to an external hard drive or to a flash drive. I backup everything on my computer once a week onto two flash drives.
How often you should perform a cPanel backup depends on how often your site changes. I have a blog on which I post daily and another that is weekly. I try to back them up on a weekly basis. You’ll have to decide how often to do your cPanel backups. The important thing is to do them often enough that in the event of catastrophe you will be able to recover the information without having to do much reconstruction.
If you have a problem with your site, you may not be able to restore it yourself from within cPanel. It may be necessary to ask your webhost to restore the full-backup file for you.