How to Maintain and Backup Your WordPress Website

maintenance

Websites need regular maintenance and support to keep them running well.  Even more importantly, they need to be backed up in case anything goes wrong.

A monthly maintenance plan is a cost effective way to keep your website updated and working efficiently for visitors to your website.

All websites need some level of support and maintenance and websites built on the very popular Content Management System (CMS) WordPress, need to be updated regularly.

Why does my WordPress website need to be maintained?

WordPress is an open-source CMS which means that millions of developers around the world are working on new themes and new plugins and WordPress itself is also constantly under development as new functionality is added, bugs fixed and security threats addressed.  This is all great for you if you own a WordPress website because it means your website and ultimately your business, is benefiting.

However, if you don’t keep the WordPress CMS and your themes and plugins updated, then your website may be vulnerable not only to security breaches but performance may also become an issue, leading to a slow or “broken” site.

What maintenance is required?

The maintenance and support required for your WordPress website, generally falls into the following categories:

Backups and Recovery

Backing up your website regularly is good business practice, just like backing up your computer.  Unfortunately, many business owners neglect these important tasks or assume they are being done by someone else.  There’s nothing worse than losing your website or your important files only to find out that the backup you were relying on doesn’t exist or is so out of date it’s useless to you.

There are two main things that need to be backed up on your WordPress website – your database, which contains all of your posts, comments, links etc and your files which contain images, themes, plugins, scripts and codes.  Both of these need to be backed up regularly. Most, but not all,  hosting companies backup their servers which contain your WordPress site (along with all the other websites on the server) but accessing a copy of the backup of your site can take time and it’s good practice not to rely solely on your hosting company.

WordPress CMS Updates

WordPress is not a static system.  It is constantly being updated with new functionality added, bugs fixed and security patches developed when the system becomes vulnerable.  Some updates are minor but others are major, often because they address a security risk and should not be ignored.  You don’t want to leave your website open to being hacked.

Themes

If your website has been developed using a free, premium (paid) or custom theme, then that theme may also be updated by the developers to add more functionality, fix bugs or security issues.  Updates to Themes tend to occur less frequently than other updates.

Plugins

Because WordPress is an open-source CMS, it means that millions of developers around the world are able to develop programs that help your website do clever things.  Plugins are updated to fix bugs, address security concerns, add functionality and they also need to be updated when there are updates to WordPress.  Your website will usually continue to function even if you don’t update plugins.  However, you may find that the plugin stops working altogether or becomes unstable over time.  It’s also a good idea to review the plugins you are using to see whether they are still required or can be replaced with a better plugin.  Too many plugins can slow your site down, so you should try to keep them to a minimum.

Other

There are a few other areas that you should keep an eye on.  These include things like:

  • users – has someone left your business or have you changed a supplier who you’d previously granted user access?
  • database tables & post revisions – if you make regular changes to your website, it’s good practice to clean up and archive to keep your site running well.
  • comments – deleting spam and reviewing unapproved comments
  • security & site performance – you want your user experience to be great and a fast, well performing site is part of that experience .  Make sure you don’t have any broken links, bad code, or  security loopholes and that your PHP, Javascript and other code files are up to date.

How often should I maintain my site and perform backups?

Well, if you are like most business owners, probably more often than you are!

We all get busy and forget to do these non-urgent but important tasks, often to our detriment.  We wait until our website crashes or a customer calls to tell us they can’t access our website – now we are kicked into the urgent and important mode and need to react quickly to get things fixed.  This is a very stressful and often costly place to be.

To avoid that, I recommend a regular maintenance schedule for your WordPress website.  How regular will depend on how important your website is to your business, how often you make changes to your website and how risk averse you are.

As a minimum, you should do monthly backups and keep these in at least two different places.  If you update your website content regularly, you may want to do daily or weekly backups.

You should always backup your website before you do an update – to WordPress, a Theme or a Plugin. Things can and do go wrong so you want to make sure that you can at least restore to the latest working version of your website.

Updates that address a security threat should be done immediately but updates that just provide additional functionality are less important.

How do I backup & maintain my WordPress website?

There are a few options available to you depending on your technical skill and what it is you’re trying to do.

  1. Automated tools.  I like both ManageWP and BackupBuddy
  2. Use Plugins – there are many to choose from
  3. You can use an FTP client – like FileZilla
  4. Via your Hosting provider server software like cPanel to access myPHPAdmin
  5. Pay someone else to do it for you

You can find detailed instructions on how to backup your WordPress website at codex.wordpress.org

Find out more about our WordPress Maintenance Plans

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