Whether it’s yours or a client’s, having a web site going offline is a disaster and can raise your heart rate to epic levels. It’s not fun to have a call from a panicky client or lose all your hard work on your own WordPress site.
Here are a few common reasons that a WordPress site might go down and how to recover quickly from them.
1. WordPress doesn’t have a back up system
Most hosting providers don’t include site backups in their most popular hosting packages. You will need to investigate what is available to backup your site. A Google search for WordPress backup plugins will result in a huge number of results. Choosing a reputable source like WordPress.org or one of the PC magazines will be helpful. Our favourites is WP All In One Security.
2. Servers CAN fail
Even Google experiences outages. When Gmail went down for just a few hours in January 2014, it caused panic around the globe. When you choose a host for your website, inquire if they have backup servers and what their downtime policy is. For important websites, we recommend also scheduling regular off-site backups that you can use to quickly restore individual elements of your site. Oh, and periodically test your backups to be sure they work.
3. WordPress Admin users
Clients are amazingly creative in discovering unexpected ways to mess up or crash their websites. Some clients know just enough WordPress to be dangerous! Restrict client access to only the necessary functions (like page editing) by creating separate user accounts for each person using the site. If you disallow specific tools and plugins, try using a plugin like Capability Manager or Admin Menu Editor Pro.
4. WordPress Hackers
Hackers love to crash WordPress sites. Older versions of WordPress are especially vulnerable to malware attacks, which is why it’s important to keep core files and plugins up-to-date.
An article in “PC World” from July 24, 2014 reported that 50,000 sites were hacked through a simple newsletter plugin vulnerability over a period of a couple of weeks. Popular WordPress plugins attract a lot of hacker attention, and have been the source of many of 2015’s most infamous security holes.
If your website starts to act wonky, free malware scanners are available to scan your site.
5. Operator error
Yes, we have to admit that we, too, can make mistakes. Breaking the CSS file with “simple edits”, installing a new plugin that doesn’t play nice or having your connection stall in the middle of an update can all send you running for a recent backup of your site. So, make it a standard practice to backup your site before doing any work on it, especially messing with the CSS.
The moral of the story…
If you have a website, back it up. Please.