Congratulations, you have a brand spanking new WordPress website. It’s shiny and optimized and you’re raring to move on to the next item on your small business’s to do list.
A website, just like a car, needs a little tender loving care from time to time to keep it in running order. You can’t forget about it, leave it running and expect it to keep working smoothly. It won’t. Just like a car, if you neglect your website and fail to maintain it regularly (give it some fresh oil to
continue the car analogy!), it will eventually break down and stop working, or worse it will get hacked.
Here’s a short checklist to help you to properly maintain your WordPress website. Doing this will take you less than an hour and if you do it once a month your website should run smoothly. Best to do this in order too – in case something goes wrong!
- Change your passwords regularly. WordPress allows you to do this really easily in the ‘Users’ section of the left hand tools bar – it even helps you to generate a crazy passwords too (or you can use this). Passwords should have CAPS, lowercase, numb3rs symbol$ and it should be long (about 12 – 14 characters).
- Before you do anything else, take a backup – your developer should have added a plugin to make it easy for you to run backups of your site. We use UpdraftPlus for this because it makes it really easy for you to restore your site should anything go wrong in steps 3 to 5. It’s a good idea to run your backup once a month (or more if your site changes regularly). External backups are best – you can set this up via email, Dropbox and lots of other options. You can also set up backups to run automatically too. Once complete, download the backup log.
- Next update your plugins. If any new versions of the plugins your site uses are available you will see a little symbol like this at the very top on the left hand side of your screen. Click on it to see the updates required. Update them one by one by selecting the plugins and clicking on the update plugins button. After each update go to your website and check that everything works as it should. Sometimes plugin updates aren’t compatible with other plugins, your theme or with new versions of WordPress, and they might knock things out. In the event that this happens then you can restore the site from your last backup.
- Update your version of WordPress – this often happens automatically but if not, then do it manually by clicking to update WordPress in your updates screen.
- Update your theme – but be extra careful with this one. Ask your developer first if they customized the theme. If they have then updating the theme might knock out any customization that has been done to your site.
And you are done! Hopefully we’ve outlined how you can easily update and maintain your WordPress site but if this seems too technical for you, contact your web developer or give us a shout – we’d be happy to help.