How to Restore WordPress When It’s Down or Locked with Snapshot Pro

How to Restore WordPress When It’s Down or Locked with Snapshot Pro

Losing your WordPress site to a hacker or a silly mistake on your part and then not having a backup to restore it is – say it with me – the worst. Luckily, Snapshot Pro can get you back up and running, even when your site’s down or locked up.

Snapshot Pro is a backup plugin that also lets you restore your site easily from your admin dashboard. Plus, with WPMU DEV’s new managed backup service, you get 10 GB of cloud backup storage and quick external restores from The Hub for free!


This means that if your site or network goes down, you’re protected and won’t lose your content, even if you can’t log in.

In today’s post, I’ll show you how to restore your single and Multisite installs of WordPress when they’re down or locked up in two ways: internally with Snapshot Pro, and externally with WPMU DEV full, managed backups and The Hub.

Why Choose Snapshot Pro?

Snapshot Pro is a plugin that offers a lot of flexibility when it comes to backing up WordPress.

You can back up your single install of WordPress or, for Multisite networks, you can back up your main site and sub-sites separately, so you have full control over your backups. If only one site in your network needs to be restored, that’s not a problem with Snapshot Pro.

Managing your snapshots is also easy and can be done directly in your WordPress dashboard.

WPMU DEV managed backups takes things to a whole ‘nother level. You can backup and restore an entire Multisite network or single WordPress install. If everything breaks, you can quickly get it all back up and running from The Hub, your personal WPMU DEV dashboard.

There’s also a lot more Snapshot Pro can do:

  • Create unlimited snapshots
  • On-site and off-site backups with
  •  FTP and SFTP
  • Amazon S3
  • Dropbox
  • Google Drive
  • WPMU DEV cloud
  • Schedule snapshots
  • Manual backups
  • Redundant backups
  • Customize what’s backed up
  • Keep up to unlimited snapshots
  • Auto-remove old backups
  • Set backup interval
  • Downloadable log files
  • No timeouts
  • Annotate snapshots
  • Little to no downtime

This also isn’t a full list of features, especially when you pair it with WPMU DEV full, managed backups.

There’s a lot you can do externally, right from The Hub:

  • Free 10 GB of cloud storage
  • One-click restores
  • Manage backups externally
  • Restore local and cloud backups
  • Download saved backups
  • View vital stats
  • Backup an entire Multisite
  • View backup schedule
  • One-click manual backups
  • No downtime
  • Auto-remove old backups
  • No timeouts

Plus, if you run out of your free 10 GB of cloud storage, you can upgrade. There are four options from 100 gigabytes and all the way to one terabyte of storage space.

Managed cloud backup plans
You can choose your cloud storage plan in The Hub.

You can use Snapshot Pro and managed cloud backups together to save your backups to multiple locations. Creating redundant backups means you’re less likely to find yourself in a situation where you can’t restore your site.

If you accidentally delete one of your snapshots, for example, it’s no problem since you would have a backup of your backup.

Bottom line: Unlike many other WordPress backup plugins that only backup core files and don’t offer easy restores or free cloud storage, you’re completely covered with Snapshot Pro and WPMU DEV cloud backups. You can also get it all for free.

Restore Option #1: Getting Started with Snapshot Pro

If you have previously installed Snapshot Pro and you have at least one snapshot saved, you can restore your site even if it’s down or you’re locked out. You can restore a single install of WordPres or your network’s sub-sites with this method.

Copying Your Snapshot’s Link

Before you can restore anything, you need to copy the link to one of your snapshots. You can get the link from the location of your snapshot.

For example, if you saved your backup on your server, use the path to it that would include your site’s domain. If your snapshot is saved to your Dropbox account, you need to move it to your Public folder and generate a link to it from there.

Please Note: In September 2017, Dropbox is making changes to the Public folder and you won’t be able to get a link to your snapshot in the same way.

Paste your snapshot’s URL to a document or somewhere that you can access it quickly and keep it under your hat for now since you’re going to need it later on.

List Your Plugins and Themes

Next, you need to make a note of what plugins and themes you have installed. You need to be able to install the exact same ones later on for the best results.

If you can’t access your admin dashboard, you can access your site’s files through FTP instead.

Go to /wp-content/plugins/ and copy the folder names to a list you can access later to remind you which plugins you’re using. When you’re done, do the same for your themes, which you can find in /wp-content/themes/.

For Multisite, try to remember which plugins and themes you had activated on the sub-site you want to restore.

Delete Your Site

Now, this may sound strange but stay with me here. You need to delete your site completely. For Multisite, only eliminate the site you want to restore.

Before you do, you can create a backup of your site just to be on the safe side. For details, check out the post Creating a Manual Backup of WordPress When It’s Down or Locked.

You can also check out How to Manually Delete or Reset WordPress and Multisite for details on how to remove your site.

For Multisite, go to your super admin dashboard > Sites > All Sites and hover over the subsite you want to restore. Then, click “delete.”

Removing your site or sub-site means you’re going to experience some downtime, but later on I’ll go into another method you can use that doesn’t result in much (or any) downtime.

Creating a Fresh WordPress Installation

Next, create a fresh install of WordPress or if you’re using Multisite, create a new sub-site. Then, install and activate Snapshot Pro.

For details, check out A Guide to the Best Ways to Install WordPressHow to Backup Your WordPress Website (and Multisite) Using Snapshot and Snapshot Pro’s Usage documentation.

Refer to the list of plugins and themes you wrote earlier and install them on your single install of WordPress. For Multisite, you don’t need to install anything.

The next step is critical and can’t be passed over or else your restore won’t work as intended:

Don’t activate any of your installed themes or plugins, other than Snapshot Pro. You’re going to have the opportunity to activate them later.

Now, you’re ready to import your snapshot so you can restore it.

Importing Your Snapshot

In your new site, go to Snapshot > Import. Remember the link to your snapshot you copied earlier? Enter it into the URL or local path to Snapshot Archive field then, click the Scan / Import Snapshots button.

Snapshot import page
Import your snapshot by entering the URL of where it’s stored.

Once your snapshot has been successfully imported, you can restore your site.

Restoring Your Site

Next, go to Snapshot > All Snapshots and hover over the name of the snapshot you imported on the page. Then, click restore.

This isn’t the actual backup, but the profile of snapshot you initially set up.

Hover over your imported snapshot and click restore.

Once you click restore, you should see the actual snapshot archive you imported. Similar to the last mouse click you made, hover over the file name of the archive and click the restore link.


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On the next page, you can adjust some options and choose what gets restored and to where as well as other relevant settings.

Click the Restore selected database tables option and be sure that all the boxes are checked that are displayed. You can click the Select all links to check all the boxes at one time.

Then, select the Include selected files setting and check all the boxes that dynamically appear. If you’re restoring a sub-site in a Multisite network, choose the Restore all files option instead.

The "What Files to Restore" section
Select the Include selected files option and check all the boxes if you’re restoring to your main site.

Scroll down to the bottom of the page and check the Turn off all plugins box. If you have been following along, you have already made sure all your newly installed plugins and themes are not activated, but you can still check this box as a fail safe.

You can also activate one of your installed themes by selecting it in the list in the final option. Be sure to choose the same theme your original site was using. Otherwise, your restored site’s design is going to change.

Restore Theme Options
Be sure to check the box to turn off all your plugins.

Click the Restore Snapshot button at the bottom of the page to kickstart the process of restoring your site from the snapshot you imported. You can see the progress of the operation live as it unfolds.

When your site has been fully restored, a message should appear toward the top of the page that lets you know it was a success.

You’re done! You can go ahead and view your new, old WordPress site.

Restore Option #2: One-Click from the Hub

There’s also another option you can use to restore WordPress. As I mentioned earlier, you can choose to backup your single WordPress install or entire Multisite network for free with WPMU DEV full, managed cloud backups. You can manage your backups and restore sites in a flash from The Hub, your private dashboard.

Since you don’t need to have access to your WordPress dashboard to restore your site, it’s an easy and fast option if your site goes down or if it’s locked up. It’s also an option that offers little to no downtime if the front-end of your site is functioning.

Backing Up to the Cloud

First thing’s first: before you can backup your entire site or network, you need to install Snapshot on your site in one click from The Hub dashboard.

Once you’re there, click on either My Websites toward the top of the page or on the Manage button in the My Websites section of The Hub.

The Hub
You can manage your backups from The Hub.

Then, find the site on the list where you want Snapshot installed. If you don’t see your site listed, you need to first install the WPMU DEV Dashboard plugin. Check out Installing the WPMU DEV Dashboard Plugin for details.

You can check if Snapshot is installed by looking out for a gray cloud icon with an arrow inside of it. If it’s on the same line as your domain, then that site doesn’t have Snapshot.

You can install it by first clicking the down arrow icon to the far right of your listed domain name.

The Hub's Manage page
Click on the down arrow of the site you want to manage.

Many of your site’s details should dynamically appear. Click the Backups tab, then on the Install Snapshot button.

In a few seconds, Snapshot should be installed on your site and the backups section should automatically reload with new details.

Backups tab in The Hub
You can install Snapshot in one click.

At this point, a message is displayed that points out you don’t have any cloud backups, yet.

No matter, you can change this in a few seconds. Start by clicking the View Key button to copy and paste your secret key. Then, click the Run Backup button.

Backups Tab
Click Run Backup to start your first cloud backup.

You should be directed to your admin dashboard where you can paste and submit your secret key. Then, you’re automatically directed to the Snapshot > Managed Backups page. Click Backup now at the top of the page.

It may take a few minutes, especially if you have a large site or network so don’t panic if it doesn’t finish instantly.

Managed Backups page
In the future, you can manually create a cloud backup in one click.

Anytime you want to create a cloud backup, you can do so in one click by going to this page and clicking the Backup now button. Your backup should immediately start and when it’s finished, it’s automatically saved to the WPMU DEV cloud.

No fuss, no muss.

Alternatively, you can schedule your managed backups so it’s automatically taken care of for you, like clockwork. To do this, click on the Configure button in the Hub to be directed to your site’s backend on the Snapshot > Managed Backups page where you can set a schedule.

Full managed cloud backups from The Hub
You can configure your cloud backup schedule.

Restoring Your Cloud Backup

If one day you find your site is down or you’re locked out you can easily and quickly restore it by going to The Hub.

Similar to the details explained above, once you get there, click on My Websites or Manage and then on the down arrow icon to the far right of your site on the list.

Next, click on the Backups tab and find your backup listed in that section.

If you have more than one backup, you can choose which one you want to use and when you have decided, click the blue cloud icon next to the listed backup.

The Hub Manage page
You can view your backups and restore them from the Hub.

Follow the instructions that are displayed in the inline pop-up to restore your site and get it back up and running.

Set It and Forget It!

Now you know how you can use Snapshot Pro to restore your site, even if you can’t access it. Plus, you can also setup an extra scheduled and managed backup as a fail safe and have it automatically sent to your free 10 GB for cloud storage.

If your site goes down or something goes south fast, you can restore it quickly to an earlier point in time. You won’t need to wonder if you have a full backup saved anymore because we have you covered.

If at any point you run into issues (with anything WordPress), you can get in touch with our support superheroes. They’ll get you sorted lickety-split and for free, too, even if you’re not a member.

Do you save backups redundantly? What do you think of our full, managed cloud backups? Do you have a feature request? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Jenni McKinnon

Jenni McKinnon A copywriter, copy editor, web developer and course instructor, Jenni has spent over 15 years developing websites and almost as long for WordPress. A self-described WordPress nerd, she enjoys watching The Simpsons and names her test sites after references from the show.