Posted on Jun 27, 2018

WordPress & Design Template Maintenance: Why It’s Critical and How to Do It Yourself

Over the past few months, you’ve ignored notifications from WordPress about updating your plugins, core, and themes. You aren’t a web developer; you aren’t a web designer. Perhaps, you aren’t even sure what a plugin, a core, or a theme is.

You’re not alone. According to the Forbes, approximately 75 million websites use WordPress as a content management system (CMS). WordPress hosted sites comprise a quarter of all websites on the Internet. A large part of that widespread usage stems from the platform’s user-friendliness.

However, WordPress and other design template’s easy-to-use CMS can accidentally deceive website owners into thinking they never have to perform maintenance.

A 2017 study performed by WP White Security indicated that more than 54% of WordPress vulnerabilities are due to out-of-date or non-existent plugins. The same study revealed 31.5% of WordPress vulnerabilities are from core and 14.3% from themes. All of these delayed updates leave sites unprotected from cyber thieves.

Keep your WordPress hosted website secure. Here’s how you can maintain it and why that maintenance is critical.

Start With Updates

WordPress hosted sites usually take care of their core updates, meaning they automatically update the site’s essential files and functions. As long as your site is running the latest version of WordPress’ content management system, your core is secure. If it’s not, your site will begin to run slower. It will become glitchy and, eventually, vulnerable to a cyber breach.

The first, most important thing you should do is ensure your WordPress hosted site is running the latest version of WordPress’ content management system.

Once you’re working with the most recent version of WordPress, you’ll need to update its themes (the site’s layout, design, and colors) and plugins (the extensions that enable your site’s functionality).

Outdated themes and plugins not only allow hackers a back door into your site, they also stop your site from working smoothly. Because Google’s search algorithms brutally punish sites with slower run times, you will want to perform timely updates on your WordPress themes and plugins.

It’s a common misconception that WordPress hosted sites will automatically update WordPress plugins and themes. This is not entirely true. You will receive email notifications alerting you that you need to update your plugins and themes, but you will have to perform them manually. Do this once a month at minimum.

Schedule Regular Backups

Most hosting plans include data backups and basic data restoration. It’s common for hosting companies to perform weekly backups and to keep those backups for up to 90 days. Talk to your hosting companies to find out how often your plan includes backups and for how long those backups are stored.

In addition, ask them where your data is being stored. It’s critical for your information to be kept on a different server than your website is hosted on. Why? A hacker could get access to that server through your website and, if your data is on that same server, delete all of your backups.

Depending on the kind of information that’s passing through your website, you may need to schedule additional backups. For example, an ecommerce store has its customers’ personal information, including their address and credit card numbers. Additional backups would keep this information off the hosting servers and, therefore, make it more secure.

Then, Scan for Malware

When websites get infected with malware, search engines will blacklist them. Forget about making it to the top of a Google search. Your website will not come up after a search query at all.

Don’t fret. You can prevent this by using what’s called a remote scanner, like SiteLock, to scrutinize every page on your website. It’s important to note that remote scanners cannot access your server, your computer, or the back end of your website. Your privacy will be protected.

Remote scanners will, however, detect any malware on your site, give you a report that details where your site is vulnerable, and indicate how to fix each vulnerability. Make sure to review each report your remote scanner provides you, and prioritize patches and firewalls according to the level of vulnerability the scanner assigns each issue.

Finally, Get Security and Uptime Monitoring

WordPress offers a security plugin called Wordfence, which will scan your plugins, themes, and core for malware and other potential vulnerabilities. It also checks your site for phishing URLs and malware.

This plugin handles the essential parts of security monitoring for your site. Security plugins are absolutely critical for managing updates, protecting user accounts and passwords, removing malware, deleting out-of-date plugins, and setting log in limits.

Unfortunately, security plugins do not let you know if your site goes down. If you have a business website, it may be prudent to install an uptime monitoring service in addition to your security plugin. Uptime monitoring services will check your site every few minutes and send you an alert in the event that your site goes down. You can set your preferences to receive notifications via email or text message.

Unlike other forms of website security, you don’t need to allocate additional funding for uptime monitoring. Services like Uptime Robot are completely free. They also offer economical, professional packages for business websites with complex monitoring needs.

A Secure Website Starts With Your Domain and Web Hosting Plans

Ultimately the hours you will spend on WordPress maintenance are like an insurance plan. You are investing a small amount of time to prevent a catastrophic cyber breach from occurring. You’re also ensuring that your site runs efficiently and glitch-free, which helps to improve your site’s ranking on Google. Follow these guidelines to stay on top of your site’s preventative maintenance.

Before you launch your new website, explore iPage’s WordPress hosting plans, WP Starter and WP Essential. Both plans offer one year of free domain registration, unlimited storage and bandwidth, customized control panels, and pre-installed themes and plugins. The WP Essential plan, which our marketing and design experts recommend for business and ecommerce websites, include WordPress expert support, automatic malware removal, and SiteLock professional security.