An agency we have a professional connection with, Katie Wagner Social Media, had a client ask them, “What’s the difference between my WordPress website files and the database?”
The short answer is that your database stores all of your dynamic/changing content, while the site files (WordPress Core, Theme, and Plugin files) tell your web browser where to show all of your content.
Have I lost you?
Well think of it this way: if your WordPress site was a house, the core WordPress files would be the foundation. Next your theme files would be the house structure, and then the plugin files would act as modifications to your house like that added bay window, extra carport, or extra loft room. The plugins work to embellish your home structure (they add functionality to your website). If you were building a house, the things I’ve listed so far are the permanent structural components of your home. They don’t change easily. The database then would be all of the things you can easily change in your home – wall paint, furniture, decorations.
The database holds all of the text/copy you enter into your website and interacts with the site files to display your website. Without the database your website would look blank: no pictures, no multimedia, no text/copy. Any time you enter something into your WordPress site’s input fields and click on “Save” “Publish” “Update” “Upload” “Add Media” “Save Changes” WordPress is writing some amount of data into the database.
Now, pictures, videos, and other multimedia or “attachment” content are generally saved into WordPress’s wp-content folder (they could be saved somewhere else if specified). Entries are then made in the database so WordPress knows where to find them, so it can make use of them.
Without the database your website would not function. With a mostly empty database your website would look very blank, and without your site files your database could not be accessed, so again a blank/non-functional website. That is why it is crucial to backup both your database and your website files. If the unexpected happens you can then restore your entire website.
Contact Kismet Design, 541.606.5374, and we will assist you with this process by completing a full site backup and configuring an automated backup solution for your database.