Once you have installed and built your WordPress website, it is essential that you keep your updates fresh. Your WordPress site will require the same level of love, attention, and maintenance that goes into a car.
Think about what happens to your car when you miss oil changes, ignore funny sounds, and don’t change your tires after a while. Just like a car, your site can fall into disrepair if you set it and forget it.
In this article, we’re going to give you five steps to answer: What is WordPress Maintenance? The answers will help keep your site running nice and smooth. Don’t be intimidated by this process! Website owners like yourself perform the following tasks everyday.
Install A Backup Plugin Like UpdraftPlus
This is actually very simple. You’ll need to login to your WordPress dashboard, and go to the plugins section. There will be a search bar or a button that says “add new.” Search for a plugin that’s called UpdraftPlus, click install, and then activate.
Once you activate this plugin, your days of losing site files are over! This plugin will prevent you from having to regularly download and upload your files to storage sites like Google Drive or Dropbox. Once you configure the plugin to send the files offsite that is, we will write a How To on this and come back to update this blog post. Cool? Cool.
Click Those Buttons! Update Your Plugins & Themes
You may already be receiving automatic notices from your site to install/update various plugins, themes, and/or the WordPress software itself. Because Plugin, Theme and WordPress Core developers are always looking to correct errors in their code, it’s necessary to update these files whenever an update is available. These updates also boost your site security by helping to prevent hackers from exploiting any errors left unfixed.
We suggest setting time aside each week to do this so you won’t fall behind on any crucial updates needed. You’ll often find a handful of plugins that need to be installed, and you’ll be surprised how often WordPress themselves will update the site software.
In WordPress version 3.7 auto updates were introduced, so you can enable auto updates on your website. It isn’t something we suggest, but it is something you can do.
Why don’t we suggest it? Well the main reason is because you never know when an update is going to crash your website. As someone who just spent most of their week sorting out plugins that crashed websites, I am even more adamant about it. Now where is my soap box?
Shore Up Your Database Files
Another important maintenance item are your database files. These directly affect your site load speed. If you already have tons of traffic, then you should understand how important it is to do this. If not, there are plugins like WP-Optimize that can help with this task. You can set it to organize and update your database daily, weekly, or however often you like.
Install Disable Comments
Your server also keeps you orderly by storing your site files, database files, and the many comments that appear on your articles. A lot of these comments will have nothing to do with your article’s topic.
Another plugin called Disable Comments can be very useful when managing this problem. If you need a solution that stops comments in their tracks, then this is your bread and butter!
Or you might just want a way to limit comments without halting them completely. Thankfully there are options for you to select in this plugin, like requiring them to fill in a name and email, that allow you to filter out those internet trolls.
For those of you who want to have people commenting on your website, we would suggest using JetPacks commenting system. It integrates with Akismet to block most of the spam and helps you to keep track of comments in an easier fashion.
Secure Your Site with a Security Plugin
Feeling secure isn’t just a way to get a good night of sleep, it is also something we want for our websites. We want them to be safe and secure, as our hosting providers only give us a limited amount of website security. Here are a few options for plugins that you can install and have a deeper level of security for your website.
The best part about these plugins is that you can just install them on your website and they are ready to go. Sure you can adjust them and gain an even deeper level of security, maybe we will do a write up soon about how to best configure these plugins for your website.
One little caveat that you should know, WordFence does not work on WPEngine hosting, so if you are using them then make sure you choose one of the other options. Oh hey! Another caveat of info, if you are using WPX for hosting, make sure when you install WordFence that you chat with their support about adjusting the rules to allow WordFence to run scans on your website. A little insider knowledge to help you out a bit more.
Benefits From The Upkeep
If you’ve never had problems with your site before (lucky you!), these tasks may seem unnecessary. However, we all want to keep our site safe and grow our site traffic. So with great traffic comes great responsibility.
When you don’t follow the right steps for care, the process of boosting traffic can be highly problematic. All suggestions in this article are about minimizing risk as much as possible. So that way your site can become more accessible as it’ll load with lightning speed, it will prevent hackers from entering your site, and keep your site from crashing and going offline. Trust us, maintenance is worth the time & effort you put in.
To recap, what is WordPress Maintenance?
- Install a backup plugin
- Update your plugins, theme & WordPress Core
- Keep your database clean
- Disable those comments
- Become a more secure person and in this sense I mean secure your website