WordPress has really come a long way since I started using it back in 2004. What used to take several hours of uploading, downloading and configuring now can be done in only minutes. But that doesn’t mean that WordPress will run itself completely… at least not yet! Here are five WordPress maintenance tasks that you still need to do on a regular basis to get the most out of your site.
1. Update Regularly
If you never do anything else to maintain your blog, make sure you do regular updates of the core WordPress files and any plugins. The crew at WordPress release updates on a regular basis, and it’s usually because they have found a security flaw that needs to be fixed. You can set your WordPress installation to update automatically for security fixes, but you’ll still have to click a button or two to update to new versions.
Updating your blog is easy. When there is an update to be done, a button will appear at the top of your dashboard letting you know. All you have to do is click the link, and the update is automatically taken care of for you. The only thing you need to do is back up your files before you start.
And that brings me to the second most important task…
2. Back Up Your Files on a Regular Basis
I learned this lesson the hard way. I never backed up my files until I got hacked. And I lost over two years of posts all in one fell swoop. Lesson learned!
Backing up your files is easy to do and gives you peace of mind. If you back up on a regular basis, you will always have a recent copy of your posts and other data in case something goes wrong. I’m not saying you will get hacked, but you are most likely relying on a third party hosting company, and servers can (and do) crash. Not often, but it does happen.
When it comes to backing up your blog, there are two steps to take. The first is backing up your database. Don’t let this scare you. There are some really good plug-ins that make doing a database backup a breeze. The one I use is called Updraft Plus and with a couple of clicks you can set it up to automatically back up your files to Dropbox, OneDrive, or one of their other offsite choices. It will also back up all your theme changes, images and uploaded media too.
That’s all there is to it. Choose the frequency you want your backups to happen, and Updraft will do the rest, giving you peace of mind that you will always have a recent copy of your blog if the worst should happen.
3. Check for Broken Links
The internet is a fast-changing place. Websites come and websites go, and people put up and take down pages on a regular basis. When you are linking to outside content, the last thing you want to do is send your visitors to a site that no longer exists. Even worse is sending them to a site that is under new ownership, only to find the content has completely changed. Having broken links makes your site look unprofessional and like you don’t care enough to keep it updated.
An easy way to keep on top of broken links is with a plugin such as Broken Link Checker. It will tell you which links are no longer working, and give you options for how you want to deal with them.
4. Keep Your Plugins Organized
WordPress makes it very easy now to keep your plugins all up-to-date. You will notice that as the WordPress core files are updated, plugin developers often must make changes to keep current as well. Using the same one-click upgrade process as you did to update your version of WordPress, you can also keep your plugins updated. Again, remember to backup your files before you update any files.
You should also review your plugins every once in awhile and deactivate or delete any that you are no longer using. Having inactive plugins on your site is an open invitation to hackers to come in and play. By only having the latest versions of the plugins you are actually using on your site, you will not only keep your site running smoothly for your visitors, it will also be more secure for you too.
5. Take Extra Security Precautions
WordPress developers work very hard to make sure that the script is the most secure it can be. However, there are still a few basic security measures you can take as well.
First off, make sure you use a unique password. Never use a password that you’ve already used somewhere else, and change your username to something other than the default “admin”.
Another thing you can do is use a free plugin like iThemes security to make several changes in the back end of your blog in order to protect against hackers.
WordPress maintenance, when done on a regular basis, will keep your blog secure from hackers and provide a more pleasant experience for your readers.