In our last post, we started off our look into WordPress maintenance with a glance at the benefits of keeping a watchful eye over your website’s performance and plugins. Routine reviews are one thing, but prevention is the best cure!
In part two of our three parts series, we’ll explore how we keep it cool when everything can go wrong.
What happens if you update the wrong plugin, or delete the wrong post? Without proper setup, this could mean lost hours or days trying to get your site back to its former glory. In some cases, you might fix this through your WordPress dashboard, but in many cases, this could mean a completely broken site from front to back!
If you’re not careful with your updates, something as simple as a typo in one of your plugins can deliver your website as a completely blank page, or the ever-opaque message, “500 Internal Server Error. This page encountered an error and cannot process your request”.
Informative? Certainly not! Your once helpful website now may as well read, “error – there was an error”.
While we can often rely on experience, even those of us with the technical know-how may be left scratching our heads trying to solve such a message, and without some knowledge of the server setup and code behind your website, we couldn’t even begin.
Since there is such a risk for lost data and hours with every update, we’d better be prepared. Backups are vital!
Backing up your website can be done manually: by accessing your server, exporting your database, and downloading your files. Or, it can be done with the use of a plugin such as UpdraftPlus. At Cucumber Marketing, we use a mix of both.
Of course, if you have managed to set your site ablaze without a backup at hand, don’t feel too bad. Just about anyone with a website has had this happen at least once (although hopefully only once!).
Consider your encounter with that monstrous server error a fine lesson in the importance, and the magic, of preventative WordPress maintenance.
For the best results, we recommend backing up your website on a weekly basis, or before each time that you update your website.
Did you know that over 30% of sites across the web are powered by WordPress? It’s no surprise really, as this Swiss Army Knife of a blog platform can handle it all.
The massive community built around WordPress means that there are always new plugins, and millions of users and developers to call on for support. But as we all know, with great power comes great responsibility.
Popularity can cut both ways. As more people choose WordPress for the foundation of their website, more hackers and scammers will follow.
Thankfully, the open source team at WordPress do a great job of fixing vulnerabilities and pushing out security fixes on the regular. That is why it is so important to keep your software up to date.
The web can be a scary place, which is why we’re so grateful that the WordPress team keeps us covered!
Keeping your WordPress installation up to date may keep your safe from vulnerabilities in WordPress itself, however, this doesn’t account for the other two thirds: your theme and your plugins.
Every minor update brings one more chance for incompatibility between WordPress, your plugins, and your theme. Here at Cucumber, we update, test, and review these changes every week.
On top of staying updated on WordPress itself, we recommend making use of a security plugin like iThemes Security. This can protect your dashboard from brute-force login attempts, as well as provide safeguards against potential risks from your plugins, or theme. With the added bonus of regular security reports emailed to your developer, this plugin will let you rest easy.
Moving Forward with Maintenance
Modern websites can do so much, but there sure are a lot of moving parts. Considering security changes, server updates, assets performance, plugin compatibility, and changes to WordPress itself, it can be hard to stay on top of it all. Everything has to work together, and any piece of the puzzle can change at a moment’s notice.
Of course, maintenance isn’t always about the little things. Sometimes, something big changes.
With the release of WordPress 5.0, our client’s websites will see a huge set of new features and a complete overhaul of how they can edit their content. In our next post, we’ll be taking you through these changes, and the steps we’re taking on this exciting transition.
In the meantime, we hope that you’ve continued to gain an appreciation for the “mundane” task of maintenance. If you’d like to know more, we’re happy to help! Call us or stop by our marketing agency in Vancouver – we always have chocolate!