Website maintenance is very much a chore and some companies ignore it or are just not aware of the downsides. Bad news: if you trip up, the consequence looks more like this…
Failure to keep your site properly maintained can also result in:
- Your site hijacked to infect visitors with malware
- Getting de-listed from search engines
- Website loading slooooowly
- Broken website functionality
- Accidental and permanent loss of data
- Wasting your precious time to wade through the mess
So, what should you do to ensure that your website is running in tip-top shape? Here is my Essential WordPress Maintenance Checklist. The tasks on this checklist are divided into daily, weekly and quarterly tasks and following this schedule will only take 10 minutes a week with an additional 30-60 minutes per quarter.
Daily Maintenance Tasks
Every day, you should perform a backup of all website files and the WordPress database too. There are many plugins available to automate this task like BackUpWordPress, Backup to Dropbox or the premium BackupBuddy plugin.
Ideally your backups should be stored off-site like on Dropbox or Amazon S3. This way your backups are still safe even if the web server hosting all your website files fails catastrophically.
Weekly Maintenance Tasks
Once a week, take 10 minutes to perform the following maintenance tasks:
- Update WordPress, plugins and themes if new versions are available. (2 minutes)
- Verify your daily backups. Ensure there are 7 new backups, otherwise figure out what went wrong. (2 minute)
- Review plugin messages. Check for any error or new feature updates. (2 minutes)
- Visual inspection. Browse your site to check for broken layouts, formatting errors and any problems. (2 minutes)
- Perform a malware scan. Use a plugin like Sucuri Security or Wordfence to perform a scan to ensure your site hasn’t been infected by malware. (2 minutes)
Quarterly Maintenance Tasks
Here are 8 more maintenance tasks. Every quarter, set aside 30-60 minutes to perform 4 of these tasks. This way you’ll perform each at least twice a year.
Change your passwords. Rotate your WordPress user and web hosting control panel passwords regularly. Use a password generator like SafePasswd.com to generate strong yet easy to remember passwords.
Delete / downgrade unnecessary admin users. If you’ve let your web designer or other contractors into your site before, check if they still need access. If not, delete their accounts or downgrade them to the Subscriber role lest their accounts be compromised and used to hack your site.
Delete un-used plugins & themes. Review all plugins and themes on your site. Do you use them? Or have they been obsoleted by new features in WordPress? Deactivate and delete all unnecessary plugins and themes to reduce your website’s overhead and reduce risk of vulnerable plugins.
Organize files and delete unwanted ones. FTP into your web server or use your web hosting control panel’s file manager to review the files in your site. Delete stale files and folders, and any out of place files you may find in the
wp-content folder. If you have uploaded files to your server, organize them into a
downloads folder. Website clutter can hide vulnerabilities and valuable files that you may accidentally delete.
Check contact forms functionality. Wouldn’t it be a bummer if someone tried contacting you but your form let you down? Make sure that doesn’t happen by testing out your contact forms regularly.
Optimize your database. If you’re like me you have lots of post ideas saved as drafts in your WordPress dashboard. Delete those that you won’t ever get around to completing. Next, visit Comments → Spam and click the Empty Spam button. Finally run the Optimize Database after Deleting Revisions plugin to get rid of un-need post revisions. This will trim down your database and increase the reliability of your backups.
Website speed audit. Use Pingdom to perform a speed test on your site. If your site takes more than 7 seconds to load, you should consider implementing caching and other measures to speed up your site to avoid losing website visitors and search rankings.
Review your About page. Update your About page at least once a year. Update your mission statement, profile picture, achievements, media or PR clippings and testimonials. Also ensure that your contact details are current and accurate.
Keeping WordPress running smoothly doesn’t take up a lot of time. However it may be a little intimidating if you don’t understand how web servers and PHP applications work. If that’s the case you may want to consider outsourcing your maintenance to a WordPress support company like The WP Butler, WP Site Care or my own ClickWP. Most WordPress maintenance services also provide additional benefits and may be a good option for you to help get your website under control.
Just like picking up your room, you also need to upkeep your website. A well-maintained website will avoid any trip-ups and give your website visitors a better experience. If you’ve put in hours of effort to ensure your website looks as good as it does, shouldn’t you take a few minutes at least to make sure it works just as well?