Although I’m sure there are car owners out there who don’t maintain their vehicles, I think that number is probably quite low. Why would you invest your hard-earned money on something and then neglect it? Even if you have others take care of your car maintenance, you still need to be aware of fluid levels, air pressure and tread depth. Regular car maintenance gives you peace of mind and can prevent major problems from occurring or surprising you.
The same is true for your WordPress website. It also needs regular maintenance of the core WordPress files and database as well as any plugins you have installed. For me, the primary reason to keep these updated is to keep the site secure. While major versions of WordPress contain enhancements and new features, minor versions are usually bug fixes and security patches.
Basic Steps to Maintain WordPress
- Back up all the files of your WordPress site and also your database. This can be done through a plugin such as BackUpWordPress or UpdraftPlus or a service like BackupBuddy.
- Deactivate all plugins (I usually only do this step when updating WordPress core files/database.)
- Go to Dashboard > Updates and update WordPress, then themes, and then plugins.
- Re-activate all plugins that were recently active
- Check out your site to make sure all is working correctly
- Back up files and database again and keep in safe place
When to Seek Help
WordPress.org releases new versions quite regularly–major versions at least a couple times a year. The current version (as of 8 December 2015) is 4.4. If your site is running anything older than 4.0, I would highly recommend that you seek professional help in performing the upgrade. I recently upgraded a site that hadn’t been updated in about a year. It should have been easy but the database portion of the upgrade wouldn’t proceed and the site broke. I had the backup I created before I started and was able to revert back to it while I investigated the issue. It turned out to be a size issue. Her database was over 3GB in size. WordPress bogged down and refused to proceed until the database was cleaned up. It turned out to be filled with spam comments. Once these were manually cleaned out and the plugin fine-tuned with the correct setting to delete spam immediately, the upgrade proceeded quickly. The site is now super-fast, too!