There are several reasons why you may want to consider exporting content from a blog or website that uses the WordPress platform. First note that here we are talking about a self-hosted site. This means that you have your own domain name registered and your site database and web files reside on your own paid hosting account. This then is not the free version of a blog hosted by WordPress.com. If this is confusing to you then you need to search online about the differences. You create your own database using WordPress.org for a self-hosted blog or website. It took me a long time to figure out that technically a blog and a website are essentially the same thing. This is why many people refer to a website or a blog simply as a “site”.
The reasons for exporting this information can include that you want to make a backup file of your website, or you may find that you have to transfer your files from one hosting account to another. This will prevent you from having to completely build a new website from the ground up. These are the two most common reasons. Another situation may be that you are wanting to copy your settings in order to make it quicker to create another or similar site with the same basic configuration. Unfortunately, exporting content alone will not retain your settings. However, if exporting content is all you need then just follow the instructions here, as there are no illustrations available in this article. Exporting your content to another blog or platform is actually quite simple to do. Once you login to the WordPress dashboard, go to the left hand side bar and find “Tools”and then go to “Export” in the navigation tabs to download an XML file of your content. The format is called a WordPress eXtended RSS or WXR file. Remember that this file will only contain the text for your posts, pages, comments, categories, and tags.
You also can make regular backups from inside the hosting account cPanel, or as a last resort you can rely on your hosting company for a backup of your server, which they typically copy once a week. Also note that if your hosting company has to restore your website there will usually be an extra charge for this. Another issue here is that you will probably not retrieve all of your plugin configurations, custom settings, or any embedded photos, graphics, and videos.
Some people say they can do this with free online backup tools. Let me ask you if you are comfortable with deleting your entire website or blog and attempting to reinstall it with a free online tool? If not, then it really is not much of a “backup tool”, right? Sometimes when you just install a new plugin it will break your whole theme, or when update to the latest WordPress version it can break your site.
Let’s look at the fact that you may want to consider truly “cloning” your WordPress website instead of merely exporting files in the standard procedure mentioned above. Cloning is taking a specific WordPress set up and creating an exact carbon copy of everything. Then you can use the clone on any other site where you want to automate the repetitive tasks involved with uploading and configuring things like widgets, plugins, permalink structures, site maps, themes, and possibly certain kinds of content in side bars, footers, and the like. Essentially everything but the title and the description.
The overall advantage of this is speed, and if you use WordPress on a regular basis then you really must be making backups on a routine basis for security purposes anyway. Let’s face it, you never know when a WordPress site may get broken from upgrades or plugin conflicts. Plus, you might be unfortunate to have you site hacked. If this has ever happened to you, then you know how painful this can be. You literally can spend hours and days trying to restore a website, or have to go to the expense of paying someone to do this for you. Not to mention that you will lose traffic from downtime, and potentially some online business.
Now new technology and software allows you to make a perfect copy and do it with one click from a PC, a Mac, or even a smart-phone like an iPhone. This can easily be done form any device where you have an Internet connection, so in the case of a mobile phone you also need an Internet data plan. The technology now exits that allows you to move a site in only minutes from one hosting account to another, and make a complete backup with one touch of a button. This requires special cloning software that you can purchase and download online.