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7 Habits to Keep Your WordPress Website Running Smoothly

1. Keep your site up to date

Did you ever wonder how often do you need to update WordPress core, themes, and plugins? The short answer is – all the time! Outdated themes, plugins, and WordPress version are the easiest targets for hackers. And they can also slow down your page load significantly.

So how do we go about that? Even though there are many plugins for scheduled maintenance, we recommend you do these manually. It is very important to have backups for your website (see section 2) in case something goes wrong. This way you can restore it to a previous working version.

WordPress software

WordPress updates it’s software regularly and a lot of its updates are of the security nature. So when you login, make sure to check your dashboard for any new updates and install them straight away.

Plugins and themes

Old plugins and themes represent serious vulnerabilities for your website and may also slow down your page loading times. So it’s a really good idea to always keep these up-to-date.

Important note! You should never install any plugins or themes that aren’t updated regularly. So before installing a plugin, always look at the last updated info and compatibility with your current WP version (see image below). For most plugins, it should not be older than six months. Before adding plugins to WordPress check the last update date

2. Regular backups

We can’t stress enough how important it is to back up your site regularly. If anything goes wrong, you can restore your site to an older working version with just a couple of clicks. And it will give you peace of mind.

How often should you do it?
Well, this depends on how often you make changes to your content. It’s also important to backup your website before you update or add new plugins.

How do you backup your website?
There are many useful plugins out there, but I prefer VaultPress, which is a premium plugin that in addition to scheduled backups offers many other valuable features like spam and malware protection. There are also many free plugins like UpdraftPlus that allow scheduled as well as on-demand backup of the whole website (database, WordPress core and plugins).

 

3. Deactivate unused plugins

Unused plugins are completely useless and they are just taking up space. So do yourself a favour and deactivate them.

If you think that you won’t be using a certain plugin in the near future, it’s a good idea to get rid of it completely. Just go to your Plugins section, deactivate the plugin first and then delete it. This way you will free your website of redundant code.

 

4. Clean up trash and old revisions

It’s a good practice to do regular checks of the trash and delete any items that have been there for some time. They are just weighing your website database down for no good reason.

Same goes for old revisions. It’s always good to have a few newer revisions in case you change your mind and want to rewind to an older version of your post or page. Having revisions can save you a lot of time, but at the same time they can fill up your site’s database pretty quickly. So just get rid of the old ones.

How can I delete revisions?
It’s easy to do it with a database optimization plugin like WP-Optimize that helps you clean up your database and delete old revisions. Another good way of doing it is by using a specialized plugin like Revision Control that gives you total control of which revisions to delete (delete by date, define a maximum number of stored revisions, etc.). In any case, just make sure you don’t keep too many old revisions on your site.

 

5. Check for broken links

A broken link is a link to a page that doesn’t exist anymore. They can harm your search ranking and create a bad experience for your visitors. And it’s quite easy to check for them and fix them.

Here is a list of some of the free online broken links checkers:

  • W3C Link Checker
  • Broken Link Checker
  • Small SEO Tools Broken Links Checker

Alternatively, you can use a plugin for this purpose. Most such plugins will allow you to find all broken links on your site and help you fix or redirect them.

 

6. Compress images for upload and delete unused media items

This is probably the most important factor in improving your site speed. Images are usually the largest files found on a website. As a result, it can take pretty long for them to load.

How do we compress images?
We prefer using an online tool such as TinyPNG that’s super easy to use and will compress .jpg or .png images in no time. Before uploading these images to your WordPress site, just run them through this tool and you will see how much space you’ve saved.

There are also plugins (Smush, EWWW Image Optimizer and others) you can use for bulk compression. They will save you same time, but just as any other plugin they will slow down your site as well. So if you are not uploading too many images, TinyPNG is a better option.

How do we delete unused media items?
Just go to Media > Library and from the “All Media Items” dropdown select the “Unattached” option. Now you will be able to see all the images that you have uploaded but haven’t used anywhere. You can delete them one by one or in bulk. Delete unattached media items from your WordPress website

7. Delete Spam Comments

If you are using any anti-spam tools like Akismet, you will probably notice spam comments in your dashboard and/or comment section. They are blocked by the plugin’s filters, but they are still stored in your website’s database. Make sure you delete them regularly, so they don’t pile up and take up valuable space.

 

Conclusion

So there you have it, 7 habits that will keep your website running like a well-oiled machine. At this point, you may be wondering where will you ever find the time to do all of these regularly. At first, it may take you some time to get the hang of it, but once you turn these habits into a routine, it won’t take that much time and the benefits for your website will be huge.