Why do you need to maintain WordPress?

First off, let’s not confuse content maintenance with WordPress maintenance. You can make all the content changes you like. You can add text, add photos, you can even add pages and navigation. All of this is a part of CONTENT maintenance. WordPress maintenance is on the technical side – updating WordPress software versions, theme updates, plugin updates, backing up the website files and databases, and the list goes on.

Think of caring for your website as you would your house – it requires maintenance and occasionally, redecoration. You don’t just move your stuff in and never touch it again. You have to regularly keep things in order, otherwise “Murphy” comes in and mucks everything up. If you avoid maintaining your site long enough, your site can actually crash. This was the case with one of our clients whose former developer went out of business and the site remained unattended for quite some time. Eventually, the software was so out-of-date that the site became unstable, got hacked and crashed.

How do you prevent this from happening? What’s the website equivalent to scrubbing the floors and cleaning the bathrooms?

It’s simple. Keep your WordPress (and other CMS platform) installations up-to-date. WordPress makes this somewhat simple by allowing you to choose automated installations. While this might be OK in some instances, it’s not what we would recommend. Automating updates of WordPress without manual updates of plugins can sometimes have undesirable results.

Outdated plugins can be a significant problem. Plugin developers sometimes abandon their plugin and it becomes incompatible with the latest version of WordPress.  Often, new versions of software get released solely to fix issues that have been exploited by hackers. If your website isn’t being updated and is found by a well-known bug, it’s highly likely to be compromised.

WordPress even tries to make updating your site simple for you.

Every time you log in to the dashboard, it checks for updates and displays a banner at the top of your admin panel to let you know about them. The process is relatively easy and can many times take only minutes. But there is a process and you need to be sure that you are comfortable with that.

But I don’t log in to my site very often,” you say.
You don’t eat off the floor very often, either, but you still have to clean them.

No matter how often you log in to post new content on your site, you should still log in frequently to update its software (along with any plugins you use). If not, you’re potentially subjecting yourself to a worse experience. Not the horrible smell of rotting milk coming from the fridge, but a slow website or even worse, a crashed website, can smell just as foul.

If you’re a bit “iffy” on maintaining your own site, contact a professional and subscribe to their maintenance program. These typically cover all the essentials required to keep the site updated, stable and available. Sure, you have to pay a small fee each month for this service but the alternative is nasty. You also may pay a pest service to keep the “bugs” from your house – not to mention the need for homeowners insurance. Remember Murphy? You’ve invested a sizeable amount of money to build your site. Now is not the time to be penny-wise and site-crashed foolish.

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