Can I manually extract files from backups created by Plesk?

  • Applies to: Legacy DV & VPS Hosting
    • Difficulty: Hard
    • Time Needed: 30
    • Tools Required: Plesk Backup, Mac, Stuffit
  • Applies to: VPS Hosting
    • Difficulty: Hard
    • Time Needed: 30
    • Tools Required: Plesk Backup, Stuffit


The backup file generated by the Plesk Backup utility is a multi-part mime-encoded file. In other words, it is not a simple archive file that can be "unzipped" to access its contents. The format of this backup file is encoded by the Plesk backup utility and cannot be accessed directly in an elegant way.

Each component within the file is for a specific purpose or location. There are individual areas for the configuration files, databases, SSL certificates, mail, and websites. The backup file is useful if you wish to restore an entire site or server through the Plesk interface. However, if you need only a specific directory, database, or a selection of files, you will need to get a little creative.

The steps below are provided as a courtesy only. We cannot guarantee that this method will work for you. (mt) Media Temple cannot provide any support for Stuffit Expander. The publishing of this information does not imply support of this article. This article is provided solely as a courtesy to our customers. Please take a moment to review the Statement of Support.


  • If you are on a Mac, the third-party "Stuffit" application is capable of reading these files. They offer a free version with basic functionality. There is a Windows version of Stuffit as well, however, it does not provide the same functionality.
  • Alternatively, you can use the Plesk Backup Utility to upload your backup to a Plesk server, perform a restore to extract the files onto the server, then manually download the files using FTP or SSH.

Using Stuffit Expander to access your Plesk-generated backups manually

  1. Download and install Stuffit Expander from their website.
  2. Create your backup in Plesk and download to your Mac.
  3. Right-click on the backup file and select Open With > Other.
  4. Select Stuffit Expander from the application list.
  5. You should now see your extracted directory. You will see a list of your domain directories.
  6. Repeat the steps for each directory, such as httpdocs.
  7. You should now be able to see all your files, and just restore the ones you need.
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