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Step-by-step guide on how to backup your server using FileZilla

kokou adzo

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Backing up your website regularly is a vital strategy for achieving the longevity of your projects. While many quality hosting providers, like HostZealot in partiсular, offer regular backups within their services, some users may also want to take over this responsibility and perform backups on their own, to have more control, to be able to perform the backup just when it’s necessary or for any other reason.

In this case, one of the commonly used ways to perform a website backup is to use a popular service known as FileZilla. In today’s article, we want to have a look at how to make a website backup on your own using this particular service.

What is FileZilla?

FileZilla is a commonly used FTP client. It’s used to transfer files between a local computer and a remote network server or between two remote servers. Although creating website backups isn’t its primary goal, you can use it to transfer the website files and folders on your PC or on another server, thus creating backups in a quick, simple, and convenient way.

How to back up your server with FileZilla

Step 1. Install FileZilla

If you don’t have FileZilla installed yet, you should first install the program.

If you’re a Windows or a Mac user, go to the official website of the project – https://filezilla-project.org/, download the installer and go through the installation procedure.

If you’re a Linx user, you can also use the terminal.

First, update the package list:
sudo apt-get update

Install the application:

sudo apt-get install filezilla

Step 2. Connect to your server

  1. Launch FileZilla.
  2. Go to “File” -> “Site Manager”.
  3. Click on “New Site” to create a new entry for your server backup.
  4. Name your entry.  Under “Host,” enter the hostname or IP address of your server.
  5. Select the file transfer protocol. There are two options – FTP and SFTP. SFTP is a more secure version of FTP, so it’s better to use this one if it’s supported by your server.
  6. Select the login type. This will typically be “Use explicit FTP over TLS if available” for FTP or “Ask for password” for SFTP.
  7. Enter your FTP or SFTP username and password.
  8. Connect by clicking “Connect”.

Step 3: Navigate to the server directory

Now you should see your server’s entire file structure in the right-hand pane of FileZilla. Go to the directory to be backed up. You can back up a particular directory or the entire root folder.

Step 4: Download Files/Folders

Now you can transfer files where you need. Download them by dragging and dropping them from the server (right pane) to your local computer (left pane). Alternatively, you can right-click the files or folders and select “Download” from the context menu.

Step 5. Monitor the progress

Now the files and folders are being transferred by FileZilla from your server to your local PC. Go to the “Queue” tab at the bottom of the FileZilla window if you want to monitor the progress.

Step 6: Verify your backup

After the backup procedure has finished, you can check the files that were backed up on your local machine.

Step 7: Disconnect from the server

Once you’re finished, you can click “Server” -> “Disconnect” to disconnect from the server. If you aren’t going to use FileZilla this time anymore, you can also just close the window of the program.

Why use FileZilla for backups?

Keep in mind that FileZilla is not a dedicated comprehensive backup solution and for certain cases it might be better to use something of this kind than FileZilla. Nevertheless, there are a bunch of reasons why FileZilla may be great for baking up the server.

    1. Manual backup: What FileZilla allows you to do is to manually back up files and folders from your remote machine to your local machine. For many users that’s more than enough. 
  • Accessibility: FileZilla is a free and easy-to-use solution, which makes it accessible for users of any competence and budget.
  • Speed: The file transfer with FileZilla doesn’t take much time to take place.
  • Selective backing up: Feel free to choose, which files and folders you want to transfer exactly.

However, FileZilla doesn’t offer certain advanced backup features that some users will find vital. In particular:
1. No automation: FileZilla can only be used for manual backups. This way, if you accidentally haven’t backed up your information in time, it can be lost in case of an accident.

  1. Not comprehensive: FileZilla is not a specialized backup solution, so it has no features to perform comprehensive backups, like database, system state, or configuration backups.
  2. No versioned backing up: FileZilla doesn’t provide versioning of your backups. This means that don’t have special access to previous backups made unless you saved them manually.
  3. Security: Although the protocol used in FileZilla (SFTP) is by default safe, there is still some configuration to be done in order to achieve optimal levels of security.

Conclusion

Using FileZilla is a common and accessible way to perform manual backups of files and folders on your server.  FileZilla is free and easy to use, so in many cases, it will be more than enough to satisfy your needs. However, if just manually copying files and folders from your remote machine to your local machine is not sufficient for you and you require some more specialized backup features, you probably should consider a comprehensible backup solution. 

Kokou Adzo is the editor and author of Startup.info. He is passionate about business and tech, and brings you the latest Startup news and information. He graduated from university of Siena (Italy) and Rennes (France) in Communications and Political Science with a Master's Degree. He manages the editorial operations at Startup.info.

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