Some of my clients reach out looking to update their WordPress website. Typically, they had a friend or family member create the initial website and then the website was left alone for several years. As time passed, the website software (core, theme, plugins, and custom code) became outdated and was no longer supported in its current version. With all the client requested updates completed, I initiate a regular system for keeping the website running smoothly. Read on to learn how to put WordPress on autopilot.

Three-pronged approach

Use a three-pronged approach to keep a WordPress website updated. First, create an automated backup program. Second, keep all software updated. Third, lock down the website to keep hackers out. This process uses a complementary system of safeguarding a website.

Backup your website

Before updating any WordPress website, I always create a backup. Having a backup provides extra insurance in case an update goes wrong and breaks a website. There are several plugins available that automate the backup process. UpdraftPlus, BackWPup, and Backup Buddy all perform very well. Always send backups to an offline storage location (DropBox, OneDrive, or Google Drive). This way, if your web server fails, you can recover your website. Match the backup frequency with the type of website. For instance, monthly backups for static websites and daily backups for ecommerce websites.  

Update your website

Over time, the WordPress core software receives regular updates. Some revisions fix security issues while others add additional functionality. WordPress also updates its software to work with updated technologies such as PHP (the code used in WordPress) and MySQL (the database used by WordPress). Theme and plugin creators also revise their software to match the latest WordPress updates. To remain on top of all these updates, create a website update schedule  (I recommend at least monthly). It is very important to test updates to ensure the website still functions properly. Use a stepped process. Don’t do the updates first and then test because if your website quits working, it is harder to determine which update broke your website. This is the  process I use:

  1. Update plugins;
  2. Test website;
  3. Update themes;
  4. Test website;
  5. Update core WordPress;
  6. Test website.

Lockdown your website

With the website backed up and updated, the third autopilot feature focuses on keeping hackers out of the website. With brute force attacks on the rise, most clients are unaware of attacks on their websites until I show them reports of hacking attempts on their website. Security software should include a firewall, malware scan, IP blocking, and login protection. The most popular security plugins include Wordfence, Sucuri, and iThemes Security. Keep your security software up to date and regularly check the reports produced.

Following a set procedure for backing up, updating, and securing your WordPress website on a regular basis will ensure that your website will remain operational. Being consistent with these processes improve the functionality of your website. You can rest assured that your website is updated and protected. Keep your website current by putting WordPress on autopilot.  

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