CodeGuard Survey Shows More Education is Needed on Backup Software, Services, and Strategies For WordPress

CodeGuard Survey Results Featured Image

CodeGuard, a service that specializes in automated backups to the cloud, has published the results of its 2015 WordPress survey. The survey took place between February 18th-20th and was answered by 503 WordPress users. Backing up is an important part of maintaining a website, so it’s a bit shocking to see such high percentages of people who either don’t backup on a regular basis or who don’t think backup plans are important.

Out of 503 respondents:

  • 25% have received “very little training” in the use of WordPress
  • 22% haven’t been trained at all in WordPress backup and have “no idea” how to do it
  • 21% have seen the “white screen of death” multiple times, and “it’s horrible!”
  • 69% have had a plugin fail after an update, and 24% have had it happen “many times”
  • 63% have deleted files that were not backed up
  • 22% said that a backup plugin seems “unimportant” to them
  • 24% said “This site is my livelihood, I’d pay almost anything for a complete restore,” while 19% said they’d be willing to spend several thousand dollars, at least

I’m surprised to see only 24% of respondents use a backup plugin at all considering there’s so many free options available. There appears to be a correlation between those who have little to no WordPress training and the lack of education on how to establish a backup plan. I realize 503 WordPress users is not a large sample size, but the numbers indicate more education is needed on backup software, services, and strategies.

It’s also alarming to see 69% of respondents have had a plugin fail after an update and 24% of those have had it happen several times. This is further proof that WordPress is not ready to automatically update plugins by default.

An important data point missing from the survey is how many of the respondents rely on automatic backups provided by their webhost. Not every user needs a plugin to manage backups and for a number of managed WordPress hosting companies, automatic backups are part of the package. In fact, most managed WordPress hosting providers discourage and disallow backup plugins from being used. An example is WP Engine:

In general, however, we discourage the use of backup plugins. They needlessly duplicate our built-in functionality, rely on a large amount of local storage and can store files in an insecure manner. Not only that, many of these plugins run their backup jobs at inopportune times. This can slow database connectivity with extra — and sometimes very large — MySQL queries and cause timeouts on larger sites.

This infographic provided by CodeGuard visually shows the survey’s results. When browsing, I suggest replacing WordPress users with respondents as WordPress users sounds too broad. After reviewing the data, let me know if the results surprise you or if it corresponds to what you’re experiencing with clients.

CodeGuard Infographic Showing Survey Results
CodeGuard Infographic Showing Survey Results



12 responses to “CodeGuard Survey Shows More Education is Needed on Backup Software, Services, and Strategies For WordPress”

  1. Hey Jeff, where do I start? :)

    But seriously, a lot of these numbers don’t surprise me at all, as these are the same people I talk to day in and day out, or at least connect with. So let me share my thoughts…

    On the backups. This does wrap back around to educating people. I cannot tell you how many sites don’t have something in place. The gray area between whether your host has a dependable backup system in place is was often confuses users. For example, share hosts, even if they say they are backed up, often it’s not what you really need and restoring is not simple, or an extra charge. So a plugin or an extra maintenance service is needed. Then the managed hosts, for example like WPEngine, has a great backup system in place, without the need of any plugins. What is the answer… keep on educating people as much as possible.

    As far as wrong, for example with plugins, there are just so many variables. Outdated stuff, conflicts, you name it. People go crazy with plugins and don’t think before they install one. And honestly, it doesn’t help with all these posts out there claiming to tell you about the “must-have” plugins. There are just so many areas that are part of the problem there.

    Lastly, the training and education. Again, no surprises. Although there are tons of resources out there, both free and paid when it comes to learning what you need to know, there are just too many other variables. For example, each individuals learning style. And finding the right learning tool or resource out there. I get people coming to me all the time and saying they tried this site, or that site, places I consider good resources, and still have walked away more confused than ever. That’s why we all offer different options, but sometimes, for the user to figure out which works best is time-consuming.

    Which brings me to this simple fact. A lot of people still use the “WordPress is so easy” gateway to lure others into it. And the fact is for many, it’s not simple to learn. They come into it, trying to run their own business, and then realize all the time they now need to take to really learn and understand it. And so many just don’t have the luxury of that time.

    Well, I could go on forever, but that’s my .op2 :)

  2. The validity of these results are, of course, entirely dependent on whether or not those 503 respondents can be said to properly represent the majority of WP users… I’d like to know more about how they reached those 503 people and who they were etc…

    • The methodology details of how the survey was presented and how it reached respondents us unknown. Perhaps I can get someone from CodeGuard to leave a comment here explaining what they did.

      Even so, I don’t see how 503 survey respondents can represent a majority of WordPress users. I see it as a group of 503 WordPress users, nothing more, nothing less.

      • The survey was conducted by Survata, Inc. and targeted respondents older than 18 who reside in the United States. To be included in the survey, the respondents had to answer “Yes” to the following screening question: Have you managed a WP blog or website?

        We did not request further screening questions around whether respondents were beginners, casual, bloggers, power users, or beyond (terms from BobWP).

        The feedback everyone is leaving here is great as we can incorporate it and do better next time. This was our first formal survey.

    • Yeah, if we are using a broad term when it comes to users… that is everyone from beginner to seasoned developer. When I look at these number this better reflects the majority of users I deal with: beginners, casual users, bloggers and a small number of power users as well call them. I think this is really a spot on reflection of people starting blogs and managing their own sites while running a business, especially outside of WordPress.

        • I still think it’s an odd thing for CodeGuard to ask, since it’s not what they do, but they must have a reason.

          To be honest, I don’t consider self-hosted WordPress to be a good platform “for the masses”, given what I’ve seen of sites people have built for themselves (or even paid someone else to build in many cases). I think the right level of knowledge for building and maintaining a secure, successful site with self-hosted WordPress includes knowing how to work “further up the stack”. On the other hand, Editor level maintenance by the owner of a professionally built site is entirely reasonable.

          • Robert-
            You are absolutely correct that CodeGuard does not require a plugin! We can understand your confusion around the wording of “backup plugin” vs backup service. The rationale was that we wanted to start in a place that most WordPress users would understand. You would be surprised how many website owners (using CMS platforms) don’t even touch FTP/SFTP. And “whitelist IPs” draws a blank stare!

            The intent of this survey was to try to get a sense of the broad WP base: how do they view things today, and what’s important? Our service isn’t for everyone, as many free plugins can meet the limited/non-existent budgets of many website owners.

            We’re happy to work with customers like you, who are relied upon by their customers to manage their websites and provide peace-of-mind.


    • +1

      Non-technical people will just get themselves into trouble with backup plugins anyway. We should be encouraging people to ask the right questions of their host. How often are backups made? Do backups include files and databases? How long are backups held? Are backups stored off-site? What do you charge to restore a backup? How quickly can you restore a backup?

      • I strongly disagree (which of course I would!). If you rely on your hosting company for backups, then all your eggs are in one basket. What happens if… your hosting company goes bankrupt? Closes your account when they fail to identify your payments? Get hacked and have their systems taken off-line? Turn out to have lied in the answers to some of the questions that you’ve asked them,, because they said what they were aspiring to, once they found the time/budget, instead of what was actually true?

        One essential component of backups is the principle of redundancy. No single points of failure. If your backups are handled in-house by your hosting company, then you’ve unnecessarily increased the risk.


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