How to Maintain a Functional WordPress Website

Some people think that once you create a website, you should be able to leave it alone. In fact, some of my clients assume that it will only break if they touch it. This can’t be farther from the truth. Websites need regular maintenance to stay operating well.

Here’s my list of 10 simple maintenance steps you should take to keep your WordPress website running.

1. Backup, Backup, Backup!

Always keep regular backups of your website. Accidents happen, and you don’t want to be left with nothing to return to when things go south. Backup your WordPress database as regularly as you write new content, and run a full backup weekly.

I use and recommend Updraft Plus.

2. Malware Protection

We don’t like to think about it, but the bad guys exist and they love to attack poor, unsuspecting sites for no reason other than to inflate their basement-lurking egos. So protect yourself. This is not a scare tactic, just reality—you need malware monitoring, removal, and prevention!

I use and recommend Securi.

3. Update WordPress Core Software

Did you know there are thousands of fabulous coders working diligantly to not only combat the cyber hackers of the world but also to make your WordPress experience a happier place? Don’t let their work go unappreciated. Take advantage of their hours of hard work and update your core whenever a new version is released! BUT, make sure you’ve made a backup before you upgrade. DO NOT do step 3 before doing step 1.

Here’s where you can manually download the latest edition

Here’s where you can find out about plugin compatibility issues

4. Update Your Theme

Whether you’ve purchased a premium theme or are using a free one from the WordPress repository, be sure to update it whenever a new version is released. Why? Theme developers are constantly working hard at fixing bugs, upgrading themes for core compatibility, and ensuring that themes don’t have any security holes that could potentially leave your website vulnerable to attacks by those hackers we discussed.

Update your theme from within WordPress > Dashboard > Updates

5. Update All Plugins

Same thing goes for plugins as the WordPress software. Folks put a lot of time and energy into developing and maintaining plugins and most of them are free! Do yourself and your website a favor and keep those plugins updated. DO NOT do step 5 before doing step 1.

Update your plugins from within WordPress > Dashboard > Updates

6. Delete Unused Themes and Plugins

Unused plugins and themes take up space, time, and potentially can cause performance or security issues. Less is more. Uninstall all of your unused plugins and themes to maintain a high-performance WordPress website.

To delete unused themes, navigate to Dashboard > Appearance > Themes. Click “Theme Details” and select “Delete”.

To delete unused plugins, navigate to Dashboard > Plugins > Installed Plugins. Select “Deactivate” beneath the plugin that you want to delete, and once it is deactivated, click “Delete”; WordPress will ask you to confirm.

7. Purge Spam

While Akismet is a really powerful plugin that detects around 99.9% of spam comments, there are multiple reasons against using it at all. If you want to use a solution that doesn’t save your visitor’s data on some foreign servers, Antispam Bee is your plugin of choice. It is free, robust and very reliable.

8. Limit Post Revisions

WordPress automatically saves a historical record of your post revisions. This can really save you if you make a mistake, but those same lifesaving files can clog up your database! It’s best to limit the amount of post revisions that WordPress stores. To do this, you’ll need to edit your wp_config.php file and add this code:
define( 'WP_POST_REVISIONS', 3 );

More instructions can be found on the WordPress Codex.

9. Check for and Repair Broken Links

Part of maintaining a super awesome website is making sure that the user experience is smooth. And part of that experience requires making sure that all of your links take your website viewer where you want them to go. And like most tasks you want to perform in WordPress—there’s a plugin for that!

I use and recommend Broken Link Checker.

10. High Five! You did it!

If you tackled that whole list, I’m sure it’s 5 o’clock somewhere. Treat yourself to a cold one. However, if you got stuck on any of them, don’t sweat it!! Like I said, it’s a pretty intense list. If you’re feeling intimidated, contact me about my monthly maintenance packages. I’ll take care of it so you can get back to doing business!