When your website developer or designer completed your website, that’s not the end of the story even if you don’t add fresh content, pages or make amendments. Like everything, a website needs maintenance apart from paying your hosting fees and renewing your domain name registration.
In the same way that your computer and the softwares installed need updates ever so often, so does your website for the three components, namely, the website’s Content Management System (CMS), themes and plug-ins. You may think that updates are not necessary since the website is running and functioning well. That’s not true. You might one day discover your website doesn’t work anymore or worse, it’s been hacked. Fixing these problems can be costly and your website will be down until then. A website that has been hacked can also get blacklisted on search engines.
Why is it important to keep your website updated?
Security – If there are any vulnerabilities found, updates will be released to fix the issues. Otherwise, your website is vulnerable to attacks and undesirable access, malware/virus infections or hackings.
New features or functions – They may be to improve the usability, both from the backend and the frontend for your visitors.
Update codes – Codes get deprecated or new ones added. So they need to be revised accordingly.
What does the work of website system maintenance involve?
The work can be easy if everything goes smoothly and difficult if it does not. Most of the time, it’s the former, thankfully. This is what you do, if you want to DIY, with fingers crossed:
- Before work begins – back-up your website. This can be done from within WordPress if a plug-in has been installed for that function. We prefer to log into the backend, to cPanel, and do the back-up there. This saves installing an additional plug-in on your website. At the very least, a database back-up should be done and you should also have a complete website back-up already saved. We would also log into WordPress and export a copy of ‘all content’ XML file.
How to do all these? Find out here.
- Click on all the things that need to be updated and hit ‘update’. It may take a while for the job to be completed. Patience, without which, if you tried to click on anything within the website, you will get a ‘website under maintenance’ message. When updates are completed, a message to that effect will be shown.
- Check that your website loads correctly by viewing the pages. See that everything is like how it was and if you have a shopping cart, check that transactions can go through correctly. Breathe a sigh of relief if everything is good. If not, read on.
- To check if a plug-in is causing problems, disable all of them. Then enable one at a time and see if the website works. Keep enabling one at a time until you encounter the problems again.
- Sometimes, updates can break a website. A Plug-in is created to work with WordPress. A theme is created to work with WordPress too. However, a plug-in cannot be created to work well with each and every theme as there are thousands out there. It can’t also be guaranteed to work well with other plug-ins you may have installed. When they don’t play nicely with each other, conflicts happen. This could occur even with a plug-in that used to work well before when a new update makes it no longer compatible.To solve the problem might mean going to the plug-in developer and getting their help. Or delete the plug-in and install a different one that works.
- What to do when a plug-in breaks your website and you cannot log in to your Dashboard? You can log into your cPanel and disable the particular plug-in that caused the trouble, if you know which one it is. If you didn’t know which one, then you might have to disable all of them. To disable them, simple navigate to ‘plugins’ folder and rename the plug-ins. Then try going to your website and log in.
- Fingers crossed you won’t have to use a back-up and restore your website. If you do indeed need to do that, you’ll be glad you did a back-up in step one.
WordPress, some themes and some plug-ins can be automated to self-update. We prefer to give each website our personal attention and do the updates manually and make sure that everything remains intact.
Can I do this job myself?
Yes, you can. You own your website. However, we cannot be responsible if anything went wrong, so fixing it will be a chargeable service. The majority of our clients prefer to subscribe to our ‘Website System Maintenance service‘ and free themselves from this task. Understandably, they don’t work on websites everyday and it is not something they do often. So it could be daunting.
As part of the service, we monitor the security of your website too. Hack bots attempting to log into websites, regardless of the system they are built on, is real and happens all the time, from all over the world.
The option to subscribe to our ‘Website System Maintenance’ will be on your yearly invoice. It is worthwhile to tick this and be included.