WordPress is a very nice and widely used CSM. It is relatively easy to use and with a few clicks, you can be online. With thousands of themes and plugins to choose from, you only have to create content.
That is the story that is often being told. It is also the story that sells best. And it is true. It is just half the truth.
Your website needs maintenance!
To keep your WordPress website functioning well, you have to maintain it. Maintenance is not just publishing new content every once in a while. The maintenance this article is about is done “under the hood”. That is where all the work is done to make your content look great on the internet.
The WordPress software, the theme, the plugins, the database, they all need maintenance. And they need to be kept safe! And need to be backed up.
Why is maintenance necessary?
Not just the content of your website changes and grows. All the software changes too. It gets better, faster, safer. But not by itself! As the owner of your website, you need to get your hands “dirty” and work under the hood on a regular basis.
WordPress gets updated regularly, as you probably know. A new version, and in between versions also updates, patches and fixes. Most of these updates, patches and fixes are mandatory. To fix bugs or vulnerabilities. They often contain new or changed functionality to make WordPress better and more functional. Always read the changelog on updates, to see what is changed and to decide when you update your website.
Do not stick to an old version of WordPress too long. The older it gets, the less safe it is. Compatibility with themes and plugins will also be a challenge.
Theme and plugin updates
Themes and plugins are updated regularly, for the same reasons WordPress gets updated. When WordPress changes, it can be necessary to change themes and plugins to keep them compatible with WordPress. That is why you always have to check if themes and plugins can work with the WordPress version you’re running!
If you set your WordPress installation to keep revisions of posts and pages, the database which they are stored in, will keep growing. When a page or post won’t be changed anymore, there is no reason to keep all these revisions. Other parts of WordPress, themes and plugins also use the database to store their information. You need to clean up the database regularly to keep it clean, small and fast.
There are several plugins that can clean up the database, like Optimize Database after Deleting Revisions.
Not the most mentioned part, but still important: the media library. The media library contains all media files uploaded to the website: images, movies, PDF’s, and so on. Have you ever checked what files are actually being used on your website? And do you know that media files belong to the largest files that are used by your website?
To keep the media library clean and uncluttered, you have to through the files regularly and delete the ones that are not in use and will not be used in the future. You can save a lot of server space, which is especially nice when your hosting plan isn’t big! Do you have may images to search through? You can also use Media Cleaner.
Backing up your website is an important part of maintenance. Problems with your website can be caused by hackers and spammers, but also by overdue maintenance. By backing up your website regularly, you can always go back to the moment your website still worked. Do not forget to search for the reason you had to restore a backup and make sure you won’t have to do it again for that same reason!
There are several ways to backup your website. You can do it by hand, or you can use a plugin like BackWPup.
Do it yourself or outsource?
Regular maintenance of your website is necessary. For safety and for functioning correctly, but also to keep it clean and uncluttered. When you maintain your website on a regular and structured basis, it won’t cost a lot of time. But it will save you a lot! By setting up a maintenance plan you can structure the maintenance. Even for the less technical website owners, it should be possible this way to adequately maintain their website.
If you don’t have the skills, the time or the ambition, you can always outsource the maintenance. A Google search on “WordPress maintenance” will get you a huge list of companies that will gladly maintain your website for you. At a cost of course. There are also WordPress dedicated web hosting companies, that offer an all-in-one deal. It is all up to you and your skills and wallet…
It can not be said enough that maintenance is necessary. And regular maintenance recommended. You want a reliable website and want to oversee all your publications and media files. Schedule your maintenance to make sure it is done regularly and keep your visitors and yourself happy with a website you can trust.
How do you maintain your website? Please share in the comments section below!