WordPress Maintenance Tasks You Should Complete Regularly
The majority of our clients’ websites are built with WordPress these days. WordPress is a fantastic platform which is trusted by millions of website owners. Like a car, your WordPress website will require some regular attention to keep it tuned up and running smoothly.
We offer a maintenance plan to take care of these tasks for you, however if you decide to maintain your website by yourself, here is a handy list of tasks you should complete regularly (i.e. ideally once or twice a month).
Backup your website
I cannot stress the importance of regular backups too much. Over the years I have had several phone calls from people whose website got hacked or deleted (e.g. due to expiring web hosting or domains). My first question is always – do you have a backup of the website from when it was still working? With a backup it is generally easy to restore a website, however without a backup it can be a costly matter to rebuild a website from scratch.
We preinstall a backup plugin on your website and you can find instructions on how to use it in your website manual. If your website was built by someone else and you haven’t got a backup plugin yet, there are several good options such as Updraft, Akeeba Backup, Backup Buddy and BackWPup.
You should be taking backups regularly, ideally in an automated way – we set up weekly backups when we host your website, however if you are using a different web host you may need to check whether they can help you set this up. Otherwise you can take a backup manually by logging into your WordPress admin dashboard.
When building a WordPress website we use a number of plugins to add functionality, such as a contact form plugin, a backup plugin, a search engine optimisation plugin or a security plugin. The plugin developers regularly release plugin updates which may contain security patches, feature upgrades or bug fixes.
If you login to your WordPress admin dashboard and click on Plugins, you will probably see that some plugins need to be updated. Updating a plugin is generally simply a matter of clicking on the “update” link and waiting for the update to complete.
Make sure you have a recent backup before you update your plugins as the updates can sometimes (albeit rarely) break your website, for example if there is a bug in the update or an incompatibility with another plugin on your website, or with your theme.
If you need to revert back to a previous version of a plugin, the easiest way to do that is by installing the “WP Rollback” plugin.
As a general rule, you should disable or delete any plugins that are unnecessary and unused on your website. If you have too many plugins this can slow down your website and also pose a security risk, especially if they aren’t updated regularly.
WordPress itself also releases updates regularly, similar to the plugins. If there is a WordPress update available, you will see a notice at the top of the admin dashboard asking you to update.
Make sure you have a backup of the website before you update, especially for major version updates.
Update Themes – with caution
Your WordPress website has a theme installed, which defines how your website looks. Most theme developers also release regular updates, similar to plugin developers.
You will need to be a little careful before updating your theme and best speak to your web developer first to check if it is safe to do so.
Often themes are customised for the client to achieve specific designs or layouts, and these can break when a theme is updated. The code customisations may need to be reapplied by your developer. However, many themes are completely safe to update, especially if they haven’t been customised.
If your website has comments enabled so that people can comment on your posts or pages, you will need to regularly review the comments. Login to your WordPress dashboard and click on “Comments”. Here you can approve or delete any pending comments.
Test, test, test
Finally, once you have completed your maintenance tasks, have a look at the frontend of your website and make sure everything still works as expected, in particular any functionality relating to the plugins you have updated.