WordPress hosts over 74 million websites world wide and is one of the top content management platforms out there. Public plugins range from something as simple as building a contact form to full e-commerce functionality; there is pretty much nothing that you can’t build with it. With countless users to date and that number always growing, the WordPress team knows the importance of making sure their platform is running efficiently and securely. Releasing new updates that include new functionality, features, security patches, and bug fixes is important to its growing popularity.
That being said, as a user of WordPress you are responsible for making sure that your website and its plugins are always up to date. Over 20% of the WordPress websites world wide are currently outdated. Leaving your website outdated makes it easier for intruders to find a way to gain access to it.
Understand the issue.
Being unaware of the importance of keeping your site up to date may result in your website going down, or being black listed by a search engine like Google. Thousands of outdated websites become infected by malware because of hackers finding ways to gain access to them. If this happens to you, your hosting company will likely take your site down and if Google happens to come across your site while it is infected, it will black list your domain. Having your site black listed by Google will result in a message displayed to your visitors stating that your website may harm their computer. A new or returning visitor may not be very pleased to see that and will likely not return to your website again. This may result in loss of traffic and possibly a loss of revenue, not to mention that you will need to go through a lengthy process of cleaning up your site and contacting Google to have them remove your domain from the black list.
Having a good understanding of best practices and applying them to your website could prevent future issues and possible loss of data. Below are a few things that you can do to help maintain the health of your WordPress website.
Choose the right plugin.
Selecting the right plugin in the first place is important to keep your website running efficiently. When choosing a plugin, you should always look for one that is frequently maintained by the developer. That means that new updates are released regularly, with security patches, bug fixes and new features. Leaving a plugin outdated for a long period of time can make your website vulnerable to cyber attacks. Less is better. Using too many plugins is inefficient and could potentially affect your website’s performance for your users. Doing research on the developer of the plugin and the plugin itself to ensure that they are constantly updating are good steps to take to make sure it is the best fit for your application.
Don’t update yet!
It may seem easy to simply press the update button and have WordPress do all the work for you and update your site, but it’s not always that simple. Why would anything go wrong, you ask? Well, WordPress and the plugins that are running on it need to work together. Making updates to either one of those may cause some errors which would break the site. This is most common with plugins that are out of date and are not yet familiar with the new functionality of the latest version of WordPress or vice versa. As I mentioned before, this is why it is important to choose the right plugin that continually keeps up to date.
Before making any updates or changes to your website, it is incredibly important to make a backup of your website. Backing up all of the files and database information will give you the ability to revert back to the working state of the website if anything were to go wrong. New updates to WordPress or plugins may cause changes to the files or even the database structure of your website, and reversing those changes would almost be impossible without having a previous backup of the site. Once you have a backup of your website, you should always test new updates on another copy of your website in a different location, as you don’t want to be making any updates to your website while it is live. If any issues were to occur, the site may be down for several minutes or even hours, depending on how quickly you could resolve the issues or revert to your backup.
We’re here to help.
The web world is always changing and as developers, especially those that develop applications for the public, we need to adapt to those changes. If an intruder doesn’t find a way to gain access to your website today, it doesn’t mean that they never will. The developers of WordPress are always one step ahead and consistently release updates that include security patches, making it harder for intruders to gain access. But in the end, it is your responsibility as the user to stay up to date.
For some it may sound fairly simple to manage this, but for others it may sound better to enlist the help of someone knowledgeable in this area to take care of it for you. Part of our process at KEEN Creative is to educate our clients on the importance of keeping your website up-to-date, and then to help them do so. While you focus on your business, we focus on keeping your website healthy by researching WordPress and plugin updates, and ensuring that your website is always up to date, and running as efficiently as it can.