Maintaining your WordPress site takes a little more work than you might be used to if you’ve moved over from another platform, but regular maintenance is vital for your site. Here’s your one-stop guide to the most important things you should be doing to keep your site running smoothly…
FREE WORDPRESS MAINTENANCE CHECKLIST
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1 – Backup your site
Backing up your site is #1 on the list for a reason. Without proper backups, if something goes wrong, you could lose your entire site: design + content! If you’re using a reputable host, they probably provide daily backups on their servers, BUT you really shouldn’t rely on them.
Simply put, server-based backups just aren’t the greatest when it comes to actually utilizing them in an emergency.
And think about it… If your site gets hacked (and we all know WordPress sites are vulnerable to that), typically they’re going to be all up in your host, which means they’re controlling your server-based backups too.
Just like backing up your computer files to a cloud drive or an external drive, it’s important to keep backups of your website that are not attached to the site itself.
UpdraftPlus is a great free plugin for this. You’ll need to attach it to your Dropbox, Google Drive, or Amazon S3. Set this up to run daily, and be aware that these backups take up a lot of storage space.
In addition to your daily backup, an important extra step for the just-in-case-of-a-real-catastrophe situation is to take a monthly backup that you download and store offline. This can be stored on your computer or an external hard drive.
2 – Update your plugins & the WordPress core
Updates to plugins and WordPress itself roll out on a pretty regular basis. Sometimes the updates add awesome new features. They might also be fixing security issues, which is super important! You should try to keep your site completely up to date as much as possible.
Look for the update icon in your WordPress admin bar right beside your website name.
Word of caution: sometimes updating your plugins or WordPress version can cause parts of your site not to function properly. This is especially true when a plugin isn’t compatible with your verison of WordPress. Anytime you run these updates, you’ll need to do it carefully.
First, back up your site. Then you’re at a “choose your own adventure” decision: Update plugins and your core one at a time, checking your site in between to make sure it still looks good.
Or you can update everything and check your site afterwards. If you go the second route and find that you have an issue, you’ll need to deactivate all your plugins and check them one by one to find the problem.
3 – Update your theme
When an update is available for your theme, you’ll want to proceed very carefully. Depending on how your website was designed and how much it’s been customized, replacing your theme with an updated version can cause some unexpected results.
Always, always back your site up first so that you can restore it in the event of a problem.
4 – Fix Broken Links
There’s nothing worse than reading an article on a website, finding a link you’re really excited about, and getting an error message. You should be checking your site regularly for broken links and either fixing or removing them.
You can scan your site for broken links free at Dead Link Checker. Once you identify them, simply edit the post to correct or remove the link.
5 – Secure Your Site
Since WordPress is the most popular website platform in the world, it does get targeted pretty heavily by hackers. Make sure your site is protected by doing these things:
- Use a strong admin username (not “admin”)
- Use a strong password (think capital + lowercase, numbers + symbols)
- Keep your plugins, theme, and core up to date
- Use a reputable security plugin. I recommend either WP Cerber or WordFence.
Don’t have time for all of this? Let me take care of it for you!
Check out my worry-free monthly WordPress Care Plans!
6 – Monitor for downtime
Your site’s pretty useless when it’s down, right? So make sure you have uptime monitoring set up to let you know when there’s an issue.
Uptime Robot is a free service you can use for this. As stressful as it can be to get the text that your site is down, it’s better to find out so you can fix it immediately than not know.