If you’ve been following this site for any length of time, you’ll know I’m a WordPress fangirl. I’ve written about backup solutions for WordPress sites before, and I’m sure I will again; the darn things seem to proliferate. (In fact, I got to test BackupBuddy on a WordPress Multi-site/BuddyPress install the other day, and though it needed a little tweaking to migrate to a new domain, it worked like a charm. But I digress.)
My WordPress fandom notwithstanding, however, I happen to be responsible for a website that uses Joomla! for its content management system, which is how I ended up at Joomla Day West on October 2nd. I actually skipped the breakout session meant for hopeless n00bs like me in order to attend the one on the subject of backups and security.
Where WordPress has plugins, Joomla! has extensions. (Actually, to make it really, complicated, Joomla!’s extensions include plugins, modules, and components. Modules are roughly equivalent to widgets in WordPress.) And where WordPress has BackupBuddy, Joomla! has Akeeba Backup. Best of all, it’s free, though there is a pro version and also a paid support package. And it comes with a 135-page user’s guide (as well as a somewhat less intimidating 31-page quick-start guide) that far surpasses the documentation on most WordPress plugins. (Okay, on any WordPress plugin that I remember seeing. Ever.)
I have not read the whole user guide. Nor have I installed a Joomla! development environment locally so I can test the validity of my backups. (The only other way to do that would be by restoring them on the live site, and if anything happened to be wrong with them, that could get ugly.) But even as someone who has very rarely done anything with Joomla! besides adding new articles, I found it fairly straightforward to use Akeeba Backup.
First, download the version you want. Unless you like living dangerously, that means a stable release. Next, log in to your Joomla! site as an administrator and go to Extensions | Install/Uninstall. Upload and install Akeeba using the “Upload package file” option.
Once you’ve done that, Akeeba will appear as a menu item under “Components.” Click the menu item and you get taken to a substantial control panel:
Start with Profiles Management, then move on to Configuration. The default profile is configured to make a full site backup (files and folders as well as the database that contains your content). You can either modify the default profile or create a new one. You don’t have to choose between backing up all the files and folders and not backing up any of them, either.
The first time I tried running a full site backup, I ran into a problem:
The error message says “Couldn’t write to the archive file; check the output directory permissions and make sure you have enough disk space available.” The file permissions are all right, as far as I can tell. A look at the site’s control panel reveals a likelier source of trouble:
Oops! Now what? Obviously, we need to remove something, or store it elsewhere. I discovered some redundancies, too: for some reason the media folders appear to have been duplicated. So it’s time to fire up the FTP client and do a little housecleaning.
When I ran the database-only backup, however, I had no such troubles.
Akeeba even mailed the SQL file to me.
Without a test site to import it to, I can’t be absolutely sure the backup is complete and correct, and I haven’t had time to set up a local install of Joomla! on XAMPP. I’m not quite brave enough to try restoring it to a live site, particularly when it’s a client site and I haven’t yet read that whole massive instruction manual yet.
So far, though, Akeeba seems like a superior product, and I’m definitely impressed. I don’t see myself setting up a lot of Joomla! sites in the future, but if I do, I definitely plan to install Akeeba Backup.
Postscript: After clearing out some files from the server, I was able to get the full site backup to run successfully. It mailed me the backup in 5 installments.