I’m always on the lookout for good backup or security plugins for WordPress, so I was intrigued to stumble across CodeGuard‘s WordPress plugin last week, because it does both.
CodeGuard has been around for a little while now – their public beta opened in May 2011 – but their WordPress plugin is less than a fortnight old, and hasn’t seen many downloads. I’m sure this will change, though, because it’s one of the simplest backup plugins I’ve come across, and the security features are a nice bonus as well.
Setting up CodeGuard an a WordPress site is very simple. All you need to do is install the plugin, sign up for a CodeGuard account, and then enter your access key. There are no other options to set up in the plugin itself, but you can set some options on the CodeGuard site – how often you want your site backed up, and whether you want notifications emailed to you. The options are so minimal, though, that I think just about anyone could feel confident installing and setting up this plugin.
Great, so it’s easy to set up. But what does it actually do? Well, it takes backups of both your files and your database (you can choose to have your site backed up daily, weekly, or monthly). It keeps all of your backups, and if something goes wrong, you can just restore your site from the last backup when everything was working properly. Options for restore include downloading a zip archive of your files and manually restoring them, or getting CodeGuard to attempt to restore them automatically. CodeGuard warns that this is a beta feature, though, and suggests you contact support if you have problems.
As well as taking backups of your files and database, CodeGuard monitors changes to your site. If it notices that files on your site have changed, it sends you an email telling you which files have changed and when. Now, if you’re adding or removing plugins or themes, or if you’re uploading images or any other kind of file to your site, then you’d expect to see changes. So most often, the emails you get will be notifying you about activity that’s perfectly innocuous, and that might lead you to ignore the emails, or not read them carefully, or just turn the notifications off. And that’s really the problem with monitoring – people get so used to seeing false alarms that they stop paying attention to them, and then they miss something crucial. CodeGuard doesn’t have any kind of magical fix for that problem, but I’d be pretty surprised if they did.
The other thing to mention about CodeGuard is their pricing structure. It’s not a free plugin, although they do have a ‘free’ option. Their full plan costs US$20 a month (or US$120 a year if you pay annually) and includes 10GB of storage for your backups, phone and email support, and access to your backups at any time. If you don’t want to pay a monthly fee, the other option is a plan that gives you 2GB of files and support through a knowledgebase only. The catch is that if things do go wrong and you need access to your backups, you have to pay US$25, and then you get access to your files for 72 hours. It’s an interesting pricing structure. The ‘free’ option should certainly tempt people to try CodeGuard, but I do wonder how many howls of outrage they’ll be hearing from people who didn’t read the (not so) fine print and now have to pay for a restore.
I’m really impressed with CodeGuard from what I’ve seen so far. It’s easy to set up and use, and I love the idea of having backup and security in one place. I’ve said before that I like to have more than one security plugin running (and if you fall into the same camp, take a look at the short list of plugins that aren’t compatible with CodeGuard), but I’m happy to have CodeGuard as part of my security regime. If you’re just looking for one plugin that will take care of all the scary stuff for you, and you don’t mind paying for the convenience, CodeGuard is worth a look.