Why You Need to Perform Regular WordPress Maintenance

There’s no denying the importance of regular WordPress maintenance. Having worked on hundreds of websites over the years, I’m extremely well acquainted with the multitude of platforms that exist, from static HTML sites to dynamic, database driven Content Management Systems like Joomla, Drupal and WordPress.

With the abundance of technologies available it’s common for web designers and developers to gravitate toward one platform and stick with it and from the beginning of my career I was fortunate enough to have happened upon and fallen in love with WordPress and several years later that’s still very much the case.

Among the many wonderful things about WordPress is that it’s by far the most user-friendly platform for both users and developers alike, which not only makes it easy to use, but also makes it extremely extensible, meaning that one can implement additional features such as social media integrations and newsletter integrations, as well as full fledged shopping cart and eCommerce solutions.

There’s very little that can’t be done with WordPress, which may well account for why it currently powers well over 25% of all websites on the internet, it just plain rocks.

What Makes WordPress So Wonderful?

Chief among the reasons that WordPress is the premier Content Management System available is the fact that it’s an open-source software, meaning that anyone with a desire to change, modify or contribute to the source code can do so entirely free of charge, making for the extremely fertile development environment that’s made WordPress so successful among content management systems.

However, given that WordPress is open-source this also renders it vulnerable to attack by hackers bent upon exploiting vulnerabilities in the source code to advance their own nefarious purposes such as taking sites down and posting spammy links to questionable websites.

That said, the fine folks at WordPress are constantly at work not only to improve it’s features and functions, but also to keep the platform up-to-date and as safe as possible from hackers and each and every time they release a new update it’s up to website owners to ensure that they’ve updated their website accordingly.

However, often those who own WordPress websites aren’t aware of this: either their web designer and/or developer neglected to inform them as much, or the site owner has gone the DYI route, installed WordPress themselves and fallen prey to the “set it and forget it” school of website administration, opting to deal with any problems that may occur as they arise.

Don’t Just “Set It & Forget It”

Unfortunately with regard to all software it isn’t so much a question of “if”, but rather “when” their site will begin to the show signs of neglect. I’ve seen it time and time again and as a result I take great pains to educate clients on the importance of keeping their WordPress installations up-to-date.

And though WordPress Maintenance & Updates are a service I offer clients, there are always those who opt not to take me up on the offer until disaster strikes. Typically what happens is that I’ll receive a frantic call from describing any one of the following scenarios:

  • Site Outage: Their site has suddenly gone down and they’re not sure why.
  • Login-Issues: They’re unable to log-in to their WordPress installation, or if they are they get a blank screen or can’t access particular parts of the site.
  • Unauthorized-Access: Someone has acquired access to their site and is posting spam to their website.

In each of the above situations any number of things can be the culprit: incompatibility issues between WordPress’ core & plugins in use on the site, new server technology or a corrupted database, but more often than not upon taking a look at their WordPress installation I’ll find that their site hasn’t been actively maintained and kept up-to-date.

As with any kind of software, both the WordPress core and all of the plugins in use on the site must be kept in tip top shape so as to minimize the risk of failure down the road.

Just as one needs to keep their operating system up-to-date, be it Windows, Mac OS or otherwise, so too must one keep their WordPress installation up-to-date and well maintained.

Does Your Business’ Website Run On WordPress?

For the personal WordPress user, this may not pose too great a threat, but for any business whose presence online is a key component of their marketing success, the implementation of a regular schedule for WordPress Maintenance & Updates is critical.

Given that website visitors decide within seconds whether or not the content of a website site speaks to them, if it’s loading slowly, has been hacked and is displaying questionable content or has gone down altogether, the most likely response is that they’ll resume their search until they find a site that is fully functional and offers the information they seek.

That said, if your website is currently built upon WordPress and you’re unsure of whether or not it’s being kept up-to-date and maintained do yourself a favor and give your webmaster a call to find out. Among the many things you’ll want to know are the following:

  • Is your WordPress Installation Up-to-Date? You’ll want to make sure that both the WordPress core and all plugins in use on the site are up-to-date.
  • Has the database been cleaned and optimized? All modifications to the site are recorded in the WordPress database and over time this can slow your site down. That said, you want to make sure that your database is optimized.
  • Has the site been scanned for malware? In some cases your site may not show visible signs of malware infection, however this doesn’t mean that your site hasn’t been hacked. That said, it’s extremely important that your site be scanned for malware on a regular basis to eradicate any rogue activity that may be invisibly taking place via your site.
  • Have the site files & database been backed up? In the event of the unforeseen, it’s critical that both you and your webmaster have a current backup of your site files and database so that you can get the site back up and running in the event of a site outage.

Assuming either you or your webmaster are able to answer “yes” to all the above, then you’re in great shape.

If however, you’re short on time or uncomfortable with the idea of performing maintenance on your website then you may want to hire a professional.

To learn more, check out our WordPress Success Plans that go a long way in keeping your site safe and secure against most issues that arise with WordPress.

Given that the expense of resurrecting a WordPress installation post-failure can be quite costly both in terms of repair and business lost, it’s money well spent.

Shane Barnes WordPress Consultant

About the author

Shane Barnes is a WordPress consultant who has been serving successful small businesses in Northern California and beyond since 2010. He lives with his wife, two boys, two scrappy canines, and when he has free time he can be found cycling the many backroads of the Bay Area.