Although WordPress is one of the most reliable content management systems (CMS) available, it does require some maintenance to remain secure, stable, and fast. Now, you may wonder why it’s so crucial to update your website on a regular basis? After all, you thought once you’ve launched your DIY website, you’ll be done, right? Well, let’s be clear, your website is never “done” because the moment you complete your design process, there will be new web design trends and latest industry standards to make the user experience on your website so much better.
Don’t panic, in this guide, I am going to explain why maintenance matters. I’ll identify the parts of WordPress which should be regularly updated and share tips on scheduling maintenance tasks.
Why WordPress Maintenance Is Important
There are several reasons why it is important to perform WordPress maintenance. If you’ve checked out Website in Week, you’ll be well aware that launching a client-winning web presence takes more than just to create it as it’s a “living document” that will grow old and out of date if not looked after. That’s why I will highlight what you should do post-launch to keep your website fast & fresh for your web visitors.
Access to new features
WordPress isn’t a static entity. It is constantly being updated with exciting new features that improve the user experience. Performing maintenance on your website ensures you have access to the latest updates and any exciting improvements they contain.
Keeping your WordPress website secure
WordPress updates include changes which protect the application from new security threats. Maintenance will also ensure that any old files which contain vulnerabilities are removed or patched.
WordPress core files, plugins, and themes are often updated to deliver improved performance. Maintenance can improve the responsiveness and load times of your website, which makes for a better user experience.
Improving the appearance of your website
If you are using a third-party WordPress theme, you may have regular theme updates available which improve its features. You can install these updates to gain access to additional functionality or options which improve the appearance of your website.
Identifying and fixing missing assets
Maintenance can help you identify any missing links or missing files on your website. You can correct these mistakes before they ruin the user experience of visitors to your site.
Keeping your data safe
Maintenance includes the creation of data backups of your website. Having these backups on hand means you can easily restore your site if it is hacked or if there is a server failure of some kind.
Removal of malware and spam
Spam and malware are still significant problems for webmasters. Performing regular maintenance helps you understand if your website has been affected by these issues and then deal with them quickly.
Most Important WordPress Maintenance Tasks
Below you will find some of the most important tasks every website owner should do at least once a month to keep your website hack-safe, updated, fast, spam & clutter-free, especially if you are interested to rank high in search engine results.
WordPress Core Updates
The WordPress core refers to the foundational files that are required for WordPress to function. They are the files you download the first time you install WordPress on your server.
Core updates add functionality, patch vulnerabilities, or improve performance in some way. A single click can update your website if you use a button on the Dashboard, Updates, or Plugins pages. You can also automate core updates.
How often: Perform a manual core update whenever you see the notification in the WordPress administration section. It’s also possible to set up automatic core updates using a WordPress plugin, which makes this type of maintenance automatic.
WordPress Plugin and Theme Updates
Fact is, third party themes and plugins are updated regularly, with new features, options, and security fixes being added. Updating these items should be a regular part of your maintenance routine.
How often: Check for WordPress plugin and theme updates on a weekly basis. It only takes a couple of seconds. You can also use a plugin to handle this maintenance task automatically.
A data backup saves all of your website’s important files, databases, images, videos, and uploads them to secure locations. You can either perform a backup manually or use a plugin to automate the process. Some server providers will offer a backup service, which also automates the process for you.
How often: Busy sites should perform backups daily. However, if your website rarely changes, weekly or monthly backups are fine. If your web hosting provider doesn’t included backup, you can use plugins like Updraft Plus to create backups manually.
Removal Of Unnecessary Files, Themes, and Plugins
If you leave old files, unused themes, and unused plugins on your server can be a security issue. Those files may contain vulnerabilities which hackers can exploit. You will need to go through your site regularly to delete any unused files, themes, and plugins.
How often: Check for unnecessary files, themes, and plugins whenever you make any changes to your website, like installing a plugin or changing your theme.
Spam is still a major problem for webmasters. Fortunately, there are many WordPress plugins which make dealing with spam easier. Set these plugins up and check that they are running correctly.
Malware is a term used to describe malicious software like viruses, spyware, trojan horses, adware, and ransomware. You have to protect your website against malware. Keep in mind, it’s a continual battle as new types of malware are constantly developed and disseminated around the web.
How often: It is best practice to install a plugin that scans your website daily for malware.
DIY Updates vs Website Hosting Updates
As mentioned earlier, some web hosts will perform maintenance on your website for you. For example GoDaddy WordPress hosting will perform tasks like:
- Automatic daily malware scan
- Unlimited malware removal and hack repair
- Website backup protection and 1-click restore
- Automatic WordPress core software and security updates
If you don’t have the time to maintain your website yourself, using this type of service can be handy. If you also install a plugin to automatically update your themes, remove comment spam, and update your plugins, most of your maintenance work will already be done!
Consistency is Key
No matter which solution you choose, one of the most important things to keep in mind is to make it happen. If you don’t plan to blog on a regular basis and log into your WordPress dashboard, then I would highly recommend you open your calendar and schedule website maintenance tasks at least once a month to ensure that your website remains safe and up to date. After all, it’s all about user experience when it comes to web presence, and a broken website will surely drive your audience away.