Cleaning is a fact of life and a sometimes unpleasant side effect of having those very things that we love so much. There is something exciting about spring cleaning to me though. Spring is the season for cleansing. Even Mother Nature takes it upon herself to spend the majority of March and April (at least where I live) dusting the old away with the wind and cleaning the atmosphere with the rain. I open up the windows and doors the second the temperature is over 45 degrees out and let the fresh air in while I scrub, dust, vacuum, and declutter my house. When I settle back into my house at the end of the day, I feel a new affection for the space and am able to think about what I want to do to rearrange and refresh it.
Our websites are our online home and they deserve the same attention that our physical homes do this spring. Thankfully, we don’t have to break out the rubber gloves and grubby clothes for this digital spring clean. I want to introduce you to the website I use to keep my WordPress website spring-clean fresh all the time: ManageWP. In roughly about 5 minutes a week, I can make sure that my website is clean, optimized, secure, and backed up. This is a rundown of what I do.
Keep your site updated
I don’t know about you, but when I log into my site at the beginning of the day, I am focused on the task at hand. Whether it is scheduling blog posts, responding to comments, or working on new content, the last thing I am paying attention to is that pesky little update notification in the top corner of my dashboard. Those notifications are more than just annoyances though.
Updates happen on multiple levels (plugin, theme, and WordPress core) and for many reasons, including adding new features and security patches. The longer your site is left with these updates undone, the more vulnerable your site becomes to hackers and software breakdowns.
The way I get around this is to schedule a time every single week (I do mine first thing Monday morning before I get into my schedule for the week) and log in to ManageWP to maintain my site. I update any plugins, themes (I use a child theme for my website so there is no risk of my design being overwritten), and the WordPress core. On average, this process takes about 30 seconds each week, and I know that my site is as safe and secure as I can make it.
Total time elapsed: 30 seconds.
After I make sure my site is updated, I move on to website optimization. There is no notification for these in the WordPress dashboard, so they are easily missed as part of your maintenance routine. Spam comments, post revisions and general database build-up can slow down your site over time. Running the database optimization tool in ManageWP takes about 1 minute, but it can make a huge impact on the overall speed of your site.
Total time elapsed: 1 minute, 30 seconds.
Making sure your website is backed up is an integral part of your website’s security and health. There are many ways to backup your website, but my favorite (and the one that I use) is ManageWP’s backup function. The free version of the backup add-on backs up your website once a month (which is more than enough if you have a small secondary domain with only a couple of pages or a subdomain) but the premium version of the add-on costs $2-$6 a month per website (depending on the backup frequency you choose) and can back up your site weekly, daily, every 12 hours, every 6 hours, or even hourly. After you set up the initial backup, it automatically backs your site up at the requested interval and you don’t have to touch it again unless you need to restore your site.
It uses its own off site cloud storage to store your backups for up to 90 days or for a few cents more, you can have your backups automatically stored on your own cloud storage account, like Dropbox or Google Drive. If for any reason your website is compromised, you can have your website restored from a backup in literally one click.
Total time elapsed: 1 minute, 30 seconds
Security and Performance checks
ManageWP’s security and performance checks are very straightforward. Each scan takes about a minute to do. The security scan checks your website for any malware or vulnerabilities, and even checks your domain against the various blacklists to make sure they haven’t been marked as potentially hacked (which can happen for a number of reasons, not just when you have been hacked).
The performance scan checks your PageSpeed and YSlow Grades. It gives you an overall letter grade and a list of various aspects that make up each overall grade. Keeping track of these grades can give you an idea of how to make your website as quick as possible and give you a heads up if something isn’t working like it is supposed to and slowing your site down.
Total time elapsed: 3 minutes, 30 seconds.
That is it! There are many other services that ManageWP provides (SEO keyword monitoring, Google Analytics views from your dashboard, downtime monitoring for starters) but those are tools that I only visit intermittently, if at all.
The only other thing I do to keep up with my website is once a month, download a copy of the backup and test it to verify that everything works the way it should (a subdomain site is the perfect sandbox to test this with).
Well, there you have it! This is my process for keeping my website, safe, speedy, and secure in under 5 minutes a week! What does your maintenance process look like? Is it much different than mine? Hit me up in the comments and let me know!
P.S. If you want your website up to date, safe, and secure without the hassle of doing it yourself (as well as the luxury of having a developer like me on call for all your website needs), I am taking on new retainer clients! Find out how you can have me as your back-pocket developer!