Akeeba Backup is one of, if not THE, absolute must-have components for a Joomla website. Not only is it a vital part of your website security strategy in the event that you need to quickly restore a hacked or otherwise broken website, it’s useful for more utilitarian purposes such as moving a Joomla website from one server to another. Many people, myself included, start building a Joomla website on their local machine and then towards the end of development move the website to a website hosting provider.
Akeeba Backup works, and works very well, but using it can be confusing at times. The documentation available on their website is incredibly thorough, and if you run into a problem using Akeeba the answer you’re looking for is in there. Somewhere. And that’s the problem in today’s world – we often don’t want to read through that much documentation, even if it is good for us.
One of the more confusing parts of the process is restoring a site from the archive file that Akeeba creates for you, though once you grasp the basic concept the pieces tend to fall into place and it almost becomes second nature. And that’s the goal for this blog post: keep it short, sweet, and simple as possible.
These are the fundamental steps involved, and they should apply to the majority of situations, especially if you’re using a good hosting provider such as Rochen, the undisputed kings of hosting, IMO. If you’re not, or your situation is unique for some other reason, you can post your question here, but I may end up referring you to the Akeeba documentation or to their support forums.
Start with your archive file
The main point of Akeeba, really, is to create an archive (compressed) file that contains your entire website, its database, and the Joomla software. With this file in hand, you can re-create your website wherever you need to, within reason. So install Akeeba, click “Backup Now,” then click on “Administer Backup Files.” Find the file you just made, which should be at the top of the list, click on the file name in the “Manage & Download” column on the far right, and click “OK” when it asks if you want to continue. (If that warning message about downloading through your browser bothers you, fire up Filezilla and FTP the archive file to your computer instead.)
Move the file to its new home
If the website’s new home is an Internet server, it will more than likely be the “root” directory (public_html, www, or similar) or a subdomain directory. If it’s on your local machine and you’re using XAMMP, it’s going to go into XAMPP ? htdocs ? [folder name].
Don’t forget to bring kickstart.php
kickstart.php is a small file that, well, kickstarts the Joomla installer into motion, more or less. You can download the latest version of kickstart from Akeeba on this page. After downloading, extract the file and move or FTP kickstart.php into the same directory that your archive file is in.
NOTE: Don’t leave these two files in this directory on a live web server. Either finish the process now, or don’t put the files there in the first place.
Create a database
If you’re using XAMPP on a local machine, creating the database happens during the install process, at least in my experience.
If you’re on a web host, go to your cPanel (or otherwise) and create a MySQL database, a database user, add the user to the database with full privileges, and make a note of the database name, user name, and user password.
Unpack and install
Using a web browser, navigate to wherever the archive file and kickstart.php are waiting. On your local machine, that should be localhost/[folder name]. On the web, type in the URL of the website-to-be. Either way you should then see a directory listing that will include your archive file and kickstart.php. Click on kickstart.php and the installation begins. If you get an error message right away, you may find this documentation to be helpful.
Follow the instructions
From here on out, the installation is pretty straightforward, and is similar to the first time you installed Joomla, assuming you did install Joomla the “real” way and didn’t use a one-step installation like Fantastico. I say “similar” because Nicholas decided at some point to only use his version of the Joomla installer. Hey, it’s his software, so why not? For the official Akeeba documentation for this part, check out this page. Otherwise, here are some key steps to watch out for:
- Click the big green “Start” button and it starts extracting.
- When it’s finished extracting, click the big green “Run the installer” button, which should open a new browser tab (or window).
- If Server Setup Check looks okay, click “Next” in the upper-right corner. (Don’t worry if “Display Errors” is in red.)
- Akeeba may ask you if you want to clear the database fields. You’ll have to enter the correct information anyway, so it’s your choice.
- On your local machine, the database host name is usually “localhost”, user name is “root”, password can be left blank, and database name should be something relevant to the website. On a web host, the database host name is still probably “localhost”, but username, password, and database name need to be what you jotted down in the “Create a database” step.
- Under advanced options, do yourself a big security favor and change the default “jos_” database prefix to something – anything – else. Just use lowercase letters and some numbers, but no symbols. Ten or twelve random characters starting with a letter should do it.
- Click “Next” and wait for “Restoration” to finish.
- On the Site Info screen, you can pretty much leave everything as is, except make sure that User Name under Super Administrator Settings is the username you are able to login with.
- Almost finished: go back to the other tab that says “Akeeba Kickstart 3.x” and click on the big green “Clean Up” button.
- If you previously had your Administrator directory password-protected and you’ve just moved to a new server or your local machine, you may need to delete the .htaccess file from that directory before you can access the back end of your site.
If you just installed your website on a live web host, you still have some security work to do, like making sure your chmod settings are correct – 755 for directories, 644 for files. Filezilla works great for this step.
I’ll take this opportunity also to make a plug for Akeeba Backup Professional. It has some definite advantages over the Core version, such as making automatic backups to Amazon S3 using a Cron job, but that’s a topic for a future blog post.