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How to backup WordPress Multisite

How to Back Up WordPress Multisite (Beginner’s Guide) 

Written By: author image Joella Dunn
author image Joella Dunn
Joella is a writer with years of experience in WordPress. At Duplicator, she specializes in site maintenance — from basic backups to large-scale migrations. Her ultimate goal is to make sure your WordPress website is safe and ready for growth.
     Reviewed By: John Turner
reviewer image John Turner
John Turner is the President of Duplicator. He has over 20+ years of business and development experience and his plugins have been downloaded over 25 million times.

Do you want to learn how to back up your WordPress Multisite network?

Using a plugin like Duplicator Pro, you can easily back up a Multisite without having to manually export your files or database. This can successfully keep all your subsites secure and error-free. 

In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to back up WordPress Multisite!

Potential Challenges When Backing Up WordPress Multisite

If you manage multiple WordPress websites, you might want to consider setting up a Multisite network. Essentially, this will allow you to control different WordPress installations from a single dashboard. 

In a Multisite, there will be one main site with many subsites in its network. These will be either subdomains or subdirectories. If you’re a developer, a network can centralize all of your clients’ sites in one place. 

Like with any website, it’s important to back up a Multisite network. Since all of your sites are connected, a cyber attack will affect every subsite. To boost your security, consider creating frequent backups.

A backup is a saved copy of your WordPress database and files. Having a backup will ensure that you can restore your network after any devastating errors, hacks, data loss, or other problems.

However, backing up a Multisite can come with some challenges. Usually, the easiest way to back up a WordPress site is to install a backup plugin. Unfortunately, not every plugin is compatible with network setups.

Plus, many WordPress backup plugins aren’t built to handle Multisite networks. Rather than just backing up a single site, it’ll have to save data from multiple subsites. You can add as many subsites as you want, so this means there may be hundreds or even thousands of websites to back up.

It can be challenging to back up a Multisite, but it’s not impossible. By finding the right plugin, you can easily create backups for your entire network. This will ensure that every subsite’s data is secure.  

How to Back Up WordPress Multisite

When you want to create a Multisite backup, you don’t have to manually download each subsite’s database and core files. Let’s walk you through an easier way to back up your network!

Step 1: Install Duplicator Pro

As we mentioned earlier, not every plugin is capable of handling Multisite networks. Fortunately, Duplicator Pro is a powerful backup solution that is perfect for this task. With Duplicator, you’ll be able to migrate, clone, and back up a WordPress Multisite:

Duplicator Pro plugin

To get started, you’ll need to choose a subscription for Duplicator Pro. Although there is a free version of the plugin, Duplicator Pro adds support for Multisite.

After your purchase, be sure to copy your license key. Then, open your network administrator dashboard. Here, go to Plugins » Add New and upload Duplicator:

Upload Duplicator in Multisite

Now head over to the Installed Plugins page. Underneath Duplicator Pro, hit Network Activate:

Activate Duplicator Pro in WordPress Multisite

Lastly, visit Duplicator Pro » Settings » Licensing. Be sure to paste the license key that you copied earlier:

Activate Duplicator Pro License in Multisite

After this, Duplicator Pro will be fully set up!

Step 2: Create a Package

For the next step, you’ll package all of your network’s data into a single zip file. This can easily be saved as a backup or migrated to a different location.

To create a package, navigate to Duplicator Pro » Packages » Create New:

Create new backup

At the top of the page, name the package. Then, select where you want to store the backup:

Multisite backup package

By default, Duplicator will save backups on your local server. However, you can use any of the following cloud storage locations:

By saving your backups off-site in the cloud, you won’t put as much strain on your hosting plan.

One part of the backup package is the archive file. This contains all of the files and database tables for your WordPress network. If you want to exclude an individual site from the backup, click on the Multisite tab:

Multisite archive file

To remove a subsite’s data from the build, move it into the Excluded Sub-Sites box. However, don’t make any changes if you want to take a complete backup of your entire Multisite network.

If you have a budget host or a larger Multisite installation, your server may time out before it can fully package your network into a backup. Duplicator can avoid this problem by creating a custom archive format called DupArchive. To switch your ZIP archive file into a DupArchive, check out our guide on moving a large WordPress site

After you hit Next, Duplicator will scan your Multisite network. Be sure to review any notices before building your backup:

WordPress Multisite network scan

To save your backup, go to the Packages page and hit Download » Both Files:

Download Multisite backup

This will save both the archive and installer files to your computer. If you can’t access your dashboard, you can upload these manually to cPanel or a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) client. 

Step 3: Set a Recovery Point

One easy way to restore a saved backup is to set a disaster recovery point. Put simply, this will tell Duplicator that you want to restore your website to a certain point.

Unlike other WordPress backup plugins, Duplicator Pro gives you a recovery URL that leads to a streamlined installer to quickly get your site back online. You can use this even if your website is down, ensuring you can get your site up and running after an unexpected error.

To set disaster recovery, the package needs to be a full backup that’s stored locally. If it is, you can click on the disaster recovery icon:

Duplicator disaster recovery

Then, continue setting disaster recovery:

Set Disaster Recovery

After this, you can either copy the recovery link or download the launcher. Whenever something goes wrong on your WordPress website, paste the link into a browser window. Alternatively, open the launcher file:

Disaster recovery link

To restore your Multisite, simply follow the step-by-step recovery wizard. This allows you to access an error-free version of your network again!

Multisite recovery wizard

Step 4: Set Up Automatic Backups

We’d recommend backing up your network regularly to prevent any unexpected errors or hacks.

Although you could create manual backups every time you need one, this can waste your time as a network admin. Often, a better solution is setting up an automatic backup schedule.

Having automated backups can give you a hands-off security solution for your network. You can sit back and allow a backup plugin like Duplicator to handle your backups on a pre-set schedule.

To automate your backups, find Duplicator Pro » Schedules » Add New:

Create website backup schedule

You can then name your new backup schedule. Next, feel free to select a Package Template or create a new one. This simply customizes what data is saved in the backup:

WordPress auto backup schedule

Now you can choose where your backups will be stored. Next to Storage, you’ll see all of the storage locations you’ve already enabled:

Dropbox scheduled storage

Once you select a storage location, you can set a time for your schedule. First, choose between hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly automatic backups:

Backup schedule

Lastly, select a custom Start Time. This will start the backup process whenever you’d like.

At the bottom of the page, check the box next to Enable this schedule. Then, save it:

Enable backup schedule

Now Duplicator will automatically create new backups on its own! You won’t have to worry about losing any data from your network.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the best way to back up WordPress Multisite?

The best way to back up WordPress Multisite is to install a backup plugin like Duplicator Pro. This tool allows you to create full backups of your network. You can even migrate subsites out of your network as standalone new sites. 

Alternative: UpdraftPlus is another plugin that can back up or migrate WordPress Multisites. However, you’ll only be able to back up one subsite at a time. Plus, you can’t restore your network all at once. 

How do I move a single site to a Multisite network?

You can move a single WordPress site into a Multisite network by creating a Duplicator backup on the original site and downloading the generated archive file. Then, open your Multisite network and go to the Import page. Drag and drop the single site’s archive file into the import box and follow the step-by-step wizard to complete the installation. 

For more details, check out our guide on how to migrate WordPress multisite!

How do I back up my WordPress site manually?

You can back up your WordPress site manually by downloading your root directory with an FTP client or cPanel. Using phpMyAdmin, export your database. Save both of these files in a safe location so that they can be reuploaded to your server in the case of an emergency. 

How do I export a multisite in WordPress?

To export a WordPress multisite, start by installing Duplicator Pro. Then, create a package and include all of your sub-sites.

Full multisite backup

Finish building the backup and download it. This will fully export your multisite as a zipped archive file. If you need to migrate your multisite, simply upload this file and the installer to a new server.

Conclusion

You’ll now have everything you need to back up your Multisite!

While you’re here, you may also like these extra WordPress tips and tricks:

Are you looking for a backup plugin that can handle Multisite networks? Download Duplicator Pro to easily create manual and scheduled network backups!

author avatar
Joella Dunn Content Writer
Joella is a writer with years of experience in WordPress. At Duplicator, she specializes in site maintenance — from basic backups to large-scale migrations. Her ultimate goal is to make sure your WordPress website is safe and ready for growth.

Disclosure: Our content is reader-supported. This means if you click on some of our links, then we may earn a commission. We only recommend products that we believe will add value to our readers.

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