There may come a day when you want to redesign your website or create a backup. Maybe you’ll want to move your site to a different server, or duplicate it so you don’t have to create a similar one from the ground up. No matter the reason, you’ll want to be able to move your data with ease.
How WordPress Stores Your Content
Before diving into our list of suggested import/export plugins, it's important to understand how WordPress stores your content, your data.
Every WordPress site, no matter its size, is made up of different types of data. You already know many of them just from using your site:
Posts and pages
Products (if you run a store)
Custom types of posts (e.g. portfolio items, FAQs, testimonials…)
Tags and categories
Profile information for all users in your site
All this information is stored in the WordPress database which is just a set of simple tables. There is a table for storing post information, another one for storing user information, and so on. These tables basically work just like the spreadsheets you know from applications like Excel or Google Sheets.
In the following image, you can see an illustrated version of a WordPress database:
As you can see in the image above, the table dedicated to posts has multiple columns. Each column represents a particular part of information related to your posts. This includes the post ID, title, author, and date of creation. And each post on your site has its own row in this table.
How Data Exporting and Importing Works
When the day to move your data comes, you’ll need to access the WordPress database. While there are tools like phpMyAdmin, they tend to be geared toward developers and users with advanced technical experience.
Thankfully, you don’t need to be a developer to handle your site’s database. There are plugins that you can use right from the WordPress admin. These plugins export your whole database, or specific parts of it into files that can then be imported back into another site, or stored offsite.
Most of these plugins export the information into XML and CSV formats, but don’t let the terminology daunt you. These are simply types of files used to store information coming from databases. For example, you can even open CSV files in any spreadsheet editor and you will see the content presented on a sheet.
Depending on whether you want to import and export all your data or specific types of data, you may find that certain plugins fit your requirements more than others. For this reason, we’ve divided our top plugins into two categories:
All-In-One Import and Export Plugins
Utility Import and Export Plugins
All-In-One Import and Export Plugins
If you want to move large amounts of content or even your whole database, an all-in-one plugin is the way to go. These plugins come equipped with advanced and easy-to-use features.
While some listed plugins have free versions, you may need to purchase the premium or pro versions to gain access to certain features or to handle multilingual data.
Posts, pages, WooCommerce products, taxonomies, media, and other custom fields and post types – WP All Import can handle it all.
With WP All Import, you can import your data to WordPress from any XML, CSV, or Excel file. The interface is easy to use, allowing you to drag and drop the content you want to import. WP All Import accepts a variety of files, so you can upload any file type, size, and structure. The plugin also offers Automatic Scheduling, so you can run your imports on a schedule.
WP All Import has an in-built code editor which allows you to create your own custom PHP functions. It also has an extensive API that includes many hooks. By combining these hooks with your own custom code, you can import almost any type of data.
According to Soflyy, “If it’s in WordPress, you can export it”.
WP All Export supports all types of data, be it custom term meta, stock info, or user data. Similarly to its companion import plugin mentioned above, this export plugin has an easy-to-use drag and drop interface that allows you to rearrange spreadsheet columns and data fields. You can also schedule your exports.
With WP Export, you can write and test PHP inside the plugin. Or, use the advanced builder to write your feed in XML.
To export WooCommerce customers, orders, and add rules to filter export data, you’ll need to purchase thePro version ($99 – $299).
With Smackcoders’ WordPress Ultimate CSV, XML Importer Pro you can import or update your WordPress content from any XML/CSV file in one go. You can also import images in bulk from your desktop or from external URLs.
This well-rounded import tool also comes with advanced export filters and lets you schedule imports or updates according to your preferences.
Advanced Mappingmakes it possible to automap the CSV field with WordPress fields, so long as the CSV Header is the same as the WordPress fields. If not, you can choose the correct option from the drop-down menu.
Although a free version of this plugin is available, you can only import and update multilingual data with the Pro version ($149 – $199) of this plugin.
With just one click, this plugin from VJInfotech makes it possible to import and export:
Posts, pages, and custom post types
WP Import Export Pro supports multiple file formats, comes with powerful filters and allows you to import and export data in the background. You also get 19 add-ons with the Pro version (including the WPML add-on).
The WP Import Export Pro plugin allows you to import data with drag and drop field mapping. If you’re looking to export data, you can rearrange and edit fields with just one click.
Although a free version of this plugin is available, you will need to purchase the premium version ($109) and install the WPML add-on to import and export multilingual data.
Sometimes, you may only want to import or export specific types of data, such as user information or products from your online store. The plugins listed in this section have been designed to deal with specific requirements and are great for users who don’t need all-in-one solutions.
Some of these plugins may have free versions, but access to certain features or multilingual support may only be available in the pro or premium versions.
This powerful plugin makes it possible to import and export products and product types from a CSV/XML file through a simple interface that also has AJAX support. You can also import and export images, categories and custom metadata.
The premium version of Product Import Export for WooCommerce also comes with additional features like automatic import and export, support for product reviews, and a variety of filter options.
Detailed history and debug logs as well as Cron schedules to process, troubleshoot, and view your actions
Multiple import and export methods with the option to choose the location of the CSV file for the import
A free version of this plugin is available, but you’ll need the Pro add-on ($69 – $199) to import and export multilingual product data.
With this plugin you can import and export users and customers from one WordPress site to another in a matter of seconds. You also have the freedom to select which users you want to export, be it by user role or registered date. Customer metadata can also be imported, exported and edited by using the meta keys found in each user profile.
In addition to the above mentioned features, Import and export users and customers also lets you:
Create a cron task to import users periodically
Extend the plugin’s core functionality by using hooks
Although users and customers are not translatable post types, you can still translate the front-end user submission form that comes with this plugin.
Export or import users and customers to/from a remote server via FTP in scheduled intervals
Receive third party plugin customization support
While users and customers are not translatable post types, you can safely use this plugin on a website with WPML installed.
Support For Multilingual Content and Data
All the plugins listed above come with powerful features that make it easier for you to import or export your data. What’s more, they are all compatible with WPML and have been tested and approved by their own developers and the WPML team. As indicated, you may need to install glue plugins, add-ons, or premium versions to obtain full multilingual functionality.
If you’re the owner of a multilingual site, there are a couple of big reasons why you should consider choosing a plugin that supports the import/export of multilingual data:
You won’t need to re-translate your content when moving sites.
All your secondary language content is in one spreadsheet, making it easier to bulk-edit multilingual data if needed.
Your content in the default and secondary language spreadsheets is connected by matching cell numbers, so you’ll always know which post your translated content belongs to.
Although importing or exporting your data may not be something you’ll have to do on a regular basis, you never know when a WordPress import and export plugin might come in handy. While some of the listed plugins have a more narrow focus than others, they’re all powerful and simplify the process of importing and exporting your data. Best of all, they can also handle your multilingual data.
Have you tried any of the plugins mentioned in this post? Are there any other WordPress import and export plugins you recommend? Let us know in the comments!