Ways & Why’s of Maintaining Your Site
Why You Should Be Maintaining Your Site?
Just like a car or a house, your website needs to be regularly maintained for it to function properly. I’m going to go through the essential tasks that need to be done, how to do them and why they are so important. This will give you a clear view about what is required and a better knowledge of the pro’s and cons of doing them.
What Happens If You Do Not Regularly Maintain Your Site?
It’s exciting when you have a new site. You want to show it to the world and take it for spins. At this point, the last thing on your mind is servicing it but neglecting to keep it in tip top condition means it could stop working or you could loose your site altogether.
Maintenance Does Require Time Spent
Although the majority of tasks can be automated and easily done, it does require time, attention and carefulness. Getting it wrong can cost you your site. So now let’s look at what you should be doing and the best and most reliable ways of getting it done.
1 – Get Reliable & Secure Hosting
In this case, cheapest is not always the best. Cheap website hosting will leave your site insecure and will leave you in the dark when problems occur. When looking for web hosting you should look for one that offers exceptional technical support, hosting features and excellent reviews.
I’ve tried and tested a lot of hosting companies in my time. Out of all of them, my top recommendation is Siteground. In their own words, they offer quality crafted hosting services. In my words they offer the best technical support I have ever come across.
“That is not a hosting issue” is never a reply I have come across with them. For the most part, if you tell them of an issue they will fix it for you. At the very least, they will investigate your issue in detail and give you the steps required to fix it. With other hosting companies this is where you can easily become stuck. I see continuous threads in forums from people stuck and in the dark because their hosting company does not help sufficiently and I feel a sense of security knowing that my hosting company does not allow me to be stuck with such a wide variety of issues.
Apart from technical support, they also boast of other benefits that cheap hosting does not cover such as free website transfers, free domain name, free backups, speedy site performance, secure servers, hacking monitoring and much much more. These might sound superficial to you but they really should be considered and are major bonuses.
Ok, enough of my rant on hosting, now onto number 2.
2 – Backup Regularly.
Before you do anything, backup your site. Failure to do so means that if anything happens to your site you will loose all your work up to date. You could get hacked, or you could make a change or an update and break your site completely. Both these issues happen often. It’s just a matter you will find happens easily and sometimes through no fault of your own.
Updating requires everything to work seamlessly together. If you update a theme or a plugin or WordPress itself, you may find that things become incompatible and your site stops working and performing properly. In these cases you will need to restore your site back to the latest known working configuration. If you don’t have a recent backup you will be stuck with your broken site, scratching your head wondering what to do next.
How To Backup
There are many methods of backing up. This can be done manually via your hosting Cpanel or automated with plugins. I have tutorial to take you through each of these methods in Look Over My Shoulder but here I will discuss the easiest and most reliable ways to do it.
- Through a hosting service. Some hosting companies offer this and most of them will charge for the service but it does take a big weight off your mind knowing they do regular daily backups. When needed you can just contact them and ask them to restore it to a preferred date. Done!
- With A Plugin. If you’re going to use a plugin, my experience with most of the plugins available, especially the free ones, is often unreliable. You want to know your backups will always work and download and restore properly so choosing the right one is essential. Ithemes Backup Buddy is by far the best in my opinion. It’s not free though and starts from $80 a licence a year. As a developer, I offer this service within my care plans using backup buddy. So not only do you get the benefit of getting regular reliable backups but the service of having it done and restored for you.
- Through your hosting Cpanel. If you do not have any money to invest in a service or plugin, I would recommend you manually take the backups from within your hosting Cpanel. If your Cpanel does not have a backup wizard then you will be forced to invest in one of the above services.
3 – Secure Your Site
You might not think so but securing your site is essential. The “it’ll never happen to me” way of thinking will just see you sorry. Or you may be thinking I’ll cross that bridge if it ever comes to it. Well, consider this. First, read more about the possibilities of getting hacked and how this can affect you. Then consider how much this will cost you in money to fix. How this can affect your SEO rankings and how much stress this can cause you and your visitors when it happens.
If you don’t want to be taught a lesson or made an example out of then get this step sorted now.
How To Secure Your Site
Securing your site can be very technical if you want a higher level of security installed but for the most part, I recommend Ithemes Security Pro. Again this will cost in excess of $80 a year or I will include this and set it up for you if you subscribe to one of my care plans at request.
4 – Update, Update, Update!!!
This should be done systematically on a regular basis. Updates are often released for good reason. Security updates, beneficial additions and bug fixes are some of the reasons you should be updating. Hackers are constantly on the prowl, looking for outdated WordPress versions, plugins, themes. Using outdated versions is like leaving your keys in the car. Do it and someone will take advantage.
What To Update & How
- Update Your Plugins. To backup your plugins simply go to your WordPress dashboard and click on plugins in the left-hand menu. Any plugins needing an update will be highlighted in an off orange color. Check the box that is to the left of all the plugins that need updating. To the bottom, you will see a drop-down box that says Bulk Actions. Click it and select update and click apply. Wait for the All updates have been completed message and you’re done. Make sure you check your live site to make sure all is working as it should.
- Update The WordPress Core. If there is a new version of WordPress, you will see a message at the top of your dashboard saying WordPress x.x.x is available, please update now. Click the please update now link and under the “An updated version of WordPress is available” click the WordPress version you want to update. Here you want to choose the relevant location version (UK or US) for where you are. Once updated, check your site to make sure all is as it should be.
- Update Your Theme. This method may vary depending on what theme you are using. If you downloaded your theme from the WordPress theme archive you should be able to update it by clicking on themes, clicking on your theme and clicking update. Before you do this you may need to activate a different theme. Before you deactivate your theme make sure you have backed up any options that you have saved in your theme options section or appearance>customise section. This will vary depending on your theme and you may need to import your options backup when you update your new theme.
Outsource Your Website Maintenance
Taking care of the technical tasks of your site might be a bit scary or it might be that you just don’t have the time and want to concentrate on doing the things you love like writing and making posts. If this is the case then you can outsource the tasks for as little as £30 a month.Choose A Care Plan To Suit You