How to maintain a WordPress website yourself

Keeping your website software up to date is one of the main ways to maintain a WordPress website. The process is fairly straighforward and involves updating WordPress, plugins, and themes.

Most of the time you will be able to update all of these without any issues, but sometimes conflicts between different plugins or themes and WordPress happen and cause your website to break.

This could show up in a few different ways such as certain features and functionality not working that did before you updated, or a completely blank white screen, affectionately known as the WordPress white screen of death!

The process below is one quick and simple way to keep your WordPress website maintained and is just one part of a website care plan.

3 Step Process

I’ve put together a simple 3 step process you can follow below.

I recommend doing this at least once per month, but sometimes if WordPress or a certain plugin or theme is known to have security issues, it should be updated as soon as possible.

Step 1. Backup your website

Make sure you have a full website backup with an option to restore the site before you update just in case anything goes wrong.

I recommend storing the backups in Dropbox or Google Drive so they’re separate to the hosting.

A good free backup plugin that does all of this is Updraft Plus.

Step 2. Update WordPress, Plugins, and Themes

Any premium or paid plugins or themes will need to have an active license to update them. They will still work most of the time without a license (some don’t), but you won’t be able to update them.

Update WordPress

  • Go to Dashboard > Updates
  • If there is a WordPress update available, click the update button

Update Plugins

  • Go to Dashboard > Updates
  • Under plugins, tick the box next to ‘Select All’
  • Click ‘Update Plugins’ button

Update Themes

  • Go to Dashboard > Updates
  • Under themes tick the box next to ‘Select All’
  • Click the ‘Update Themes’ button

Step 3. Test your website

Go to your website, preferably in a separate browser and make sure it’s working as expected. Click around the site to a few different pages and make sure everything looks ok.

If everything looks good, you’re all up to date!

If anything is broken, you will need to go through an elimination process to figure out what the cause is.

This might involve restoring your website to a recent backup, or going through and disabling all plugins and reactivating them one by one until the culprit is found, possibly also changing the site to a default theme if the issues cannot be found from plugins.

Website maintenance is one part of a website care plan

A complete website care plan should include the above maintenance tasks, and also take care of:

  • Uptime monitoring 
  • Security monitoring and hardening
  • Website optimisation and performance enhancements
  • Offsite backups
  • Critical software updates

Want someone else to do it all for you?

If this all sounds like too much to manage, or you just don’t have the time, contact us now to find out how we can help. All this and more is covered in our website care plans.