WordPress developers and the community around the platform are working hard to make sure our favorite CMS is as reliable as it can be. Uptime is critical to user experience (UX) today – no website can be successful if it suffers from too many crashes, slowdowns and glitches.
Many high traffic websites such as TechCrunch, The New Yorker, and BBC America use WordPress, which illustrates its dependability as a platform. However, don’t take things for granted. You can still optimize your deployment with some tweaks and add-ons.
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Here are some top tips to ensure your WordPress-powered website is as reliable as it can be:
1. Get a Reliable Web Host
Your website is only as reliable as the infrastructure it runs on. It is understandable for many WordPress blogs to be hosted on shared servers, since this is the cheapest and quickest way to have your own self-hosted WordPress installation. Many of these services claim to give 99.99% uptime, and most of them do.
Many of the popular WP web hosts do have their own failsafe measures, but it pays to ask if they implement features like firewalls, anti-malware, and backup services. Check the coverage of their support and response time, too. These essential web hosting features can help you prevent any downtime. And, if ever a system downtime or failure occurs, your service provider should be able to respond adequately to any concerns about your website.
2. Use a CDN
Most guides about improving overall website UX point to improving speed as a major plus point. Deploying your website over a content delivery network (CDN) is one of the fundamental ways you can address both response and uptime.
CDNs essentially cache your website’s content across multiple servers located around the globe. When users visit your website from a desktop or mobile browser, their devices load resources from a CDN server nearest them. This reduces latency or lag caused by the distance data has to travel between the server and the end-user’s device.
As an added insurance, CDNs can also help manage traffic surges caused by both legitimate (such as posts going viral) and dubious (cyberattacks) reasons. CDN provider Incapsula already provide bot mitigation, which helps secure your WordPress-powered blog or website from malicious bots and traffic spikes to guarantee uptime.
3. Keep WordPress Up to Date
In some very rare instances, some weird user action can cause WordPress to conk out, but this is why WordPress continually releases updates. The great thing about having an active community is that users can test and report known issues and vulnerabilities, and the developers can quickly release fixes through updates. This is why it is important to always be up-to-date with the latest version, since these will contain the latest fixes and patches.
One of the best developments in WordPress is its one-click update button. Before that feature, updating WordPress meant manually fiddling with your web host’s file manager or FTP service to upload and update files. With the one-click update, only the laziest people would have problems updating their site.
4. Keep Plugins Up to Date
One of the reasons people love using WordPress is its extensibility. There are plenty of plugins and themes that we can use to add more features and functionalities. This, however, can come with a price.
Plugins use additional computing resources on top of the WordPress core code. Some plugins can cause sites to slow down and even crash. There those that come with the most exploited vulnerabilities. WordPress’ update also includes one-click updates for plugins, but not everyone is disciplined enough in keeping their plugins up-to-date.
Avoid using themes and plugins that are not tested with the latest WordPress version, especially those that are longer supported by the developer or the community. Disable and delete outdated themes and plugins, and delete deactivated themes and plugins, since these can slow down your system, take up space, and can even become attack vectors for malicious hackers.
5. Have Backups Available
A website is also only as reliable as its backups. Stuff happens, so it pays to keep your site’s data backed up. Keep in mind that storing your “backup” in the same host server isn’t exactly a backup. You never know if and when disaster would strike your web host’s physical location.
Backups become even more important if your site creates a lot of user-generated content. Users may have a particular attachment to their contributions to your site, that losing these data might mean you also lose your loyal visitors.
WP Backup service VaultPress offer comprehensive backup and security specifically for WordPress. It does come with a monthly subscription price. Alternatively, you can also ask your webhost for backup options available since these can include all files, including uploads, email, databases, and settings. If it’s just the site data you’re worried about, the ever-reliable WP-DB-Backup can help you backup (and restore) your database. You can even schedule backups to be sent via email on a daily basis.
6. Implement Performance and Security Plugins
Security is also part of reliability so making sure your WordPress site is secure should be among your concerns. All In One WP Security and Firewall is a pretty nifty plugin that scans you site for common vulnerabilities such as having default “admin” username and weak passwords and gives you pointers on how to fix them.
The reality of the web is that things can be unpredictable. You’d never know when that 0.001% downtime of your webhost may happen. By paying attention to improving your site’s reliability, you can decrease those chances of your precious WordPress-powered website going down.