How To Enable Server Backups in WHM/cPanel

Posted on by Alison Gray | Updated:
Reading Time: 5 minutes

One of the most important things you can do to protect your server against data loss is regular backups. Properly configured backups are a critical aspect of the maintenance of any website and can mean the difference between a quick recovery and rebuilding a site from scratch.

Would you be able to restore your data and get your site back up in the event of file deletion, database corruption, or malware infection? If this is not possible, it’s time to implement a backup strategy.

Liquid Web customers have various backup options, including Acronis Cyber Backups and on-server backups via a control panel. This article focuses exclusively on cPanel backups. 


  • A server with root-level access running WHM/cPanel.
  • Login credentials for WHM, preferably the root user.

This article covers backup configuration in WebHost Manager (WHM) using cPanel’s backup system. Legacy backups still are supported in cPanel for backward compatibility, but WHM is the preferred system for efficiency and reliability.

Because Liquid Web does not manage cPanel backups, ensure that you have formulated an appropriate backup retention policy and make the selections that work best for your business needs.

Step #1: Configure Global Settings

Log in to WHM using your server’s root credentials, and select Backup Configuration under the Backup section of WHM’s main menu.

backup config

Under Backup Status, select the checkbox next to Enable Backups to turn on the backup system.

The Enable button only turns on the backup system. You still need to instruct cPanel to back up your accounts and which ones to back up.

Choose one of the three backup types.


These backups use the least disk space, potentially giving you more restore points than the other methods. On the other hand, compressed backups take longer to complete, and restoring an individual file requires first extracting the file.

A compressed cPanel backup size ranges from 25 to 75 percent of the actual account size. The size depends on several factors, including the types of files owned by the account. Until the backups complete, it is safe to estimate a compressed backup will take up about half the account space. Once the backups have run, use the actual values to determine how many compressed backups to retain.


Uncompressed backups complete faster, and the restore process is quicker because these backups do not need extraction from the archive. However, they take up the same amount of space as the account itself and allow for fewer restore points. Therefore, if you choose to use uncompressed backups, ensure that this retention policy does not cause you to run out of disk space.


Incremental backups allow you to retain only one daily, one weekly, and one monthly backup. This option provides fewer restore points than either of the other options. Each is uncompressed and takes up the same disk space as the entire account.

Individual files are restored quickly, and changes to your data are synced each time backups run. This means that a corrupted, compromised, or modified file could be synced to your backup if not noticed immediately.

Click the checkbox next to Check the Available Disk Space. It is recommended not to store so many backups that your server runs out of disk space. Enabling this option will not allow backups to run if the available disk space is less than the set number.

Set the Maximum Destination Backup Timeout and Maximum Backup Restoration Timeout amounts. The amounts are in seconds and will cause unsuccessful backup processes to time out and stop if not completed in the allotted time.

check available disk space

Step #2: Choosing the Scheduling and Retention Options

Select the appropriate schedule and retention options. The Scheduling and Retention section allows you to enable or disable daily, weekly, and monthly backups and specify the number of each type of backup you wish to store. 

For daily and weekly backups, select the days of the week backups will be taken. For monthly backups, you can choose for them to be taken at the beginning, middle of the month, or both.

scheduling and retention
If you select both the first and the 15th of the month for monthly backups to run, each will count as one monthly backup. When choosing both backup date options, you will need to retain two monthly backups for each month.

Step #3: Select Account Backup Options

The Files section allows you to select which accounts to back up and choose more detailed options for each:


Instruct cPanel to back up user accounts by checking the checkbox next to Backup Accounts.

Click Select Users to open a new browser window (or tab, depending on your browser settings) where you can select the specific cPanel accounts to back up. Next, click the ON button in the Backups column for each domain you want to back up, and ensure that the buttons in the Legacy column are off if you are not using the legacy backup system.

You can access this page directly by clicking Backup User Selection in WHM’s main menu.

backup user selection

Back in the WHM Files screen, choose whether you want to back up suspended accounts, access logs, and bandwidth data. Also, select whether you wish to back up system files and the individual accounts (This is necessary only for server restoration. The individual account can be restored regardless of your choice here).

Step #4: Select Database Backup Options

Select whether you want to back up databases per account, the entire MySQL directory, or both in the Databases section.


You want to choose Per Account and Entire MySQL Directory in most cases.


Step #5: Select Backup Location

The Configure Backup Directory section allows you to choose whether you want to back up locally or externally.

configure backup directory

The Default Backup Directory is pre-configured and should not be changed in most cases.

If you select Retain Backups in the Default Backup Directory, local backups will be retained even if you automatically configure the server to transfer them to an external destination. 

The Mount Backup Drive as Needed option should, in most cases, remain disabled, as an external drive set up by Liquid Web needs configuring to mount at boot.

Step #6: Select Remote Transport Options

The Additional Destinations section allows you to set up a method for transferring your backups offsite via SFTP or other means. To do so, select a Destination Type, click the Create new destination button, and provide the requested credentials in the form.

additional destinations

Step #7: Review and Save Backup Settings

Once you’re satisfied with your backup configuration, click the Save Configuration button to apply your settings.

How can we help?

If you’re running on our dedicated server hosting, we will be happy to assist and directly implement the changes in this article.

You can also contact our sales team to discuss configuration options and set up your server today.

Avatar for Alison Gray

About the Author: Alison Gray

Alison Gray is currently an IT Project Manager at Liquid Web and has been with Liquid Web for nearly 10 years. In 2015, She earned her Bachelor's Degree in Media and Information from Michigan State University. In her free time, she loves spending time with her girlfriend and 3 kids. You can usually find her at a basketball court or some sort of sporting event. If the weather's right, she loves being outside in the yard finding some sort of yard work to do.

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