Troubleshooting Common BackupBuddy Errors

As I stated before, I do love my BackupBuddy. I haven’t encountered a backup and restore plugin that seems to work better for me. It usually is fast, fairly pain-free and it very rarely happens that it doesn’t work out of the box.

It does happen, however, and I figured I’d just quickly note the problems I run into most often and how to fix them.

First: Check Your Error Log

Did your backup fail? Or did it just take forever, so you cancelled it because you didn’t expect it to finish properly? In either case, you should always check the error log. You usually get an idea of where it got stuck, even though it might not help you at that moment. If the backup really failed the error log states an error code as well as a short explanation.

[You are not all that comfortable with reading log files and your WordPress backend does not speak English? The marvellous BackupBuddy support team will be a lot faster to answer your questions if they are able to read the error log you provide.
So make sure to go to “Settings->Advanced Settings/ Troubleshooting” and pick the “Basic Operation” section. Somewhere in the middle you’ll find the option “Disable language localization”. Check this box to make sure BackupBuddy runs in English and produces error logs in English as well. Support will love you for it!]

But back to error codes.. Most common for me has been error #4001, which means that BackupBuddy wasn’t able to generate the ZIP archive. In this case, it usually helps to go to the BackupBuddy settings menu and pick “Advanced Settings/Troubleshooting”. Scroll down to “Zip” and uncheck the first option “Enable Zip compression”. Save your settings and try to run your backup again.

You had a different error code? There is a complete list of all error codes and possible solutions in the BackupBuddy Codex.

If that didn’t help, my next step is to

Check the Server Setup

You find the tab “Server Tools” pretty much in the middle of the BackupBuddy menu. There you get all kinds of information concerning your server configuration.

The column on the right displays the status of each item, marked green if it passes or yellow for a warning. (I suppose it’s red for “Fail” but I think I never encountered a “Fail”.) This allows for a quick glance to get an idea of how the status of your installation is.

If you look closer you see different server settings in the left column, along with a short description when you hover over the little question mark right next to it. The second column suggests what the value for this particular item ought to be. The third column shows you what the value actually is for your installation.


The most important things to check are right at the top. Make sure you have all of your software up to date. Apart from the fact that things usually work better when kept clean and tidy, outdated versions of WordPress or WordPress plugins are hazardous for the security of your website.

If you’ve had your hosting for a couple of years chances are that your PHP version is rather low as well. With most hosting companies, you can pick the version you want to use. Right now, most companies offer versions 5.4, 5.5 or 5.6, some even offer PHP 7.

PHP memory limit and PHP execution time are a common problem with rather inexpensive hosting plans. If one or both of them are too low, you need to change those values in the php.ini. Hopefully you’ll find it somewhere within your client interface for your hosting, otherwise get in touch with support and let them help you.

Sometimes, “Http Loopback” poses a problem. That means that the server is configured in a way that WordPress is not allowed to connect back to itself via the URL.
In this case you need to enable “alternative cron” mode in your wp-config.php file. See the WordPress Codex on editing the wp-config for details.
But basically, all you need to do is to add the following line to your wp-config.php file:

define( ‘ALTERNATE_WP_CRON’, true );

Still not working?

Problems Posed By Other Plugins

Some plugins also cause problems without it showing up directly. If you are using a caching plugin it might be worthwhile to deactivate it and see if that helps. But I haven’t had any problems with caching plugins lately, so hopefully that’s rarely the case anymore.

What happens more frequently, however, is that the (very useful) plugin “Simple History” seems to cause trouble.
[We use simple history in clients’ sites in order to be able to see what has been changed. Can be extremely useful in cases of “It’s broken but I didn’t do ANYTHING!”. Turns out people just don’t remember what they did and they cannot really judge whether they made a major change or only added a comma.]

If you use “Simple History” as well, just go to its menu; it’s a bit hidden in the “Dashboard” tab, right under “Updates”. Download your history (as csv or xml file) and afterwards, delete the log file. Now try to run your backup again.

Huge Files in the WordPress Root

Sometimes, clients who also have ftp access to the website upload stuff to the root directory of their server space. So if there is anything unusual within the files and directory of your WordPress installation, make sure to exclude it from the backup. Go to “BackupBuddy settings” and then the first tab, “General settings”. There is an option “File & Directory defaults” where you are able to exclude files or directories from your backup.

A problem I encountered the other day: After restoring a site from a BackupBuddy backup the cleanup process didn’t work properly (or the person in front of the screen forgot to hit the “Cleanup”-button?).

This way, there was a pretty large backup file within all of the WordPress files and directories. When I ran a complete backup the file turned out to be huge, since it wrapped up the site plus an additional complete backup of it.
Getting the backup took forever and what was even worse, I wasn’t able to restore it properly since there were two backups available after unzipping.
After excluding the zip-file of the older backup before backing up again everything worked smoothly…

If all of this doesn’t help, you might want to check out the BackupBuddy manual for further information or

Last (but not least): Ask The Support Team!

I found the iThemes support very fast and always eager to help. So a huge compliment there!

But it still feels better to be able to fix my stuff myself… 😉


  1. I was using a similar plugin to Simple History and deactivated it, then my backup worked. Thank you!

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