The Beginner’s Guide to WordPress Maintenance: How to Care for Your New Website
Got a new WordPress site but not sure how to care for it? WordPress is a powerful platform that needs a bit of regular maintenance to keep it running smoothly and quickly. Here’s a simple guide to maintaining your WordPress site each month. If you’re doing your own maintenance, these are the things you need to know.
If you’re taking care of your own site, please make a plan to back up and maintain your website at least once a month — if you don’t take care of it, it may break eventually. It only takes a bit of time and attention to keep your WordPress site running smoothly.
Site maintenance takes only a bit of time each month — and it’s much faster and less costly than fixing a broken website. There are basically just 3 simple steps involved in maintaining your WordPress website:
1. Back up your website.
Do this on a daily or weekly basis, depending on how often you change it.
TIP: Make sure you have a backup system that’s EASY for YOU to use if you have to restore from backup. Things can break on a website, and it’s important to be able to get your site up easily. For example, we’ve chosen a hosting company that has a one-click restore point, so you can roll back any mistakes instantly. (Some backup systems still take quite a bit of time and effort to restore your site if anything goes wrong — I recommend avoiding those systems.)
2. Update your software.
At least once a month, after backing up your website, update your plugins, themes, and WordPress software. (Yes, you read that right — BACK UP first, then update!)
If you have an admin-level user account in your WordPress site, you’ll find a page for Updates if you look in the top part of your left-hand sidebar under Dashboard >> Updates.
NOTE: I like to check quickly before updating to make sure the latest versions of my plugins, theme and even WordPress software are considered stable. (The easiest way is Google for the particular version you want to update to — you may find discussion threads with people warning you to wait before updating.) This is less important if you have an “easy restore point” though — see Step 1.
3. Check your website after updating it.
Remember, your computer will likely show you a “cached” version of your website, so you won’t necessarily see any changes from software updates unless you clear your browser cache (or use Chrome’s Incognito mode). To check your website, to go through your site on a page-by-page basis after you update it. Make sure your pages look normal and your forms work. If your site is quite large, systematically check groups of pages and forms on a regular basis.
Keeping Your WordPress Site Healthy
Optimize Your Database
Regularly optimize your website with a database optimizer plugin. This will help keep your site running well. (See my recommended plugins and tools at the bottom of this post.)
Use a Caching Plugin
Ensure you are using a Caching plugin to help keep your site running quickly. Some caching plugins are more difficult to set up — we have a few recommended plugins that are easy to use.
Secure Your Site
Using strong passwords (and changing them regularly) will help keep your website secure. You can also install a robust security plugin such as WordFence (try the free version) — or use a hosting company that includes site security in their plan.
Make sure your website isn’t a “one and done” thing. Keep it growing as you grow! On the technical side, get the latest news and tips for WordPress by following WordPress.org blog or social media channels. It helps to know when major updates, releases, and new ideas are coming.
Recommended Tools for Maintaining Your WordPress Site
After years of trying different hosting companies and plugins, these are the ones we recommend most often. They make it easy to take care of your WordPress site.
WPEngine – for all the above reasons, we love WPEngine as a host. It offers superb tech support for troubleshooting as well.
ManageWP – if you don’t have managed WordPress hosting, this is the next best thing. Set up ManageWP as a “maintenance dashboard” for your site. It will help with backups, restore points, and updates.
WP-Optimize – If your hosting or maintenance program does not include database optimization, this is an easy and effective plugin to try.
That’s it! Now you just have to remember to update regularly and check your website to ensure everything still works properly from time to time.
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