In this guest blog, Chris Andujar of TinyFrog Technologies explains why you should forgo the solo route and instead invest in site maintenance experts.
WordPress websites are not set-it-and-forget-it systems. Once your site is launched, it requires ongoing maintenance and frequent updating. Much like the software on your computer, regular plugin updates are released to fix security issues, make improvements, fix bugs, etc. — but they’re not as easy to adopt.
Without a qualified development team or web developer overseeing these updates, a website owner faces numerous issues from plugin incompatibility and theme breaks to security risks.
In the face of these, you may think not updating your website is the better choice – think again. Failing to keep your website updated puts you at risk for security issues and hacking — and the popularity of WordPress means it’s now one of the top three platforms targeted by hackers. According to a 2016 report by Sucuri on infected websites, 74 percent of those infected sites were built on the WordPress platform and the No.1 cause of infection was outdated software and plugins.
The Risks of DIY
The risks of maintaining a site on your own include:
- Plugin incompatibility
- Theme breaks
- Plugin security vulnerabilities
One of the advantages of WordPress is that it’s open source, so developers are contributing and creating new plugins and improvements all the time. The downside, however, is that a plugin created by one development team may not work well when paired with a plugin written by another developer. This is plugin incompatibility — updating one plugin causes another to break or malfunction.
An even worse issue occurs when a single plugin update causes something to break in the WordPress theme. When this happens, it can cause the entire site to break and stop functioning. This is a common occurrence when a plugin is overhauled as in the main functionality and coding of the plugin have been altered.
As for security, when a vulnerability is found in the version of a plugin or theme being used on your site, a developer can take quick action to limit any exposure.
A vulnerability means that a hacker could gain access to your website through that plugin or theme. The WPScan Vulnerability Database catalogs vulnerabilities and is currently tracking 6,677 known vulnerabilities on WordPress core, plugin and theme vulnerabilities. With more than 49,000 WordPress plugins available in the official directory, vulnerabilities can go undetected and cause system compromises for years.
With a development team or developer handling the maintenance of your website, you can prevent malfunctioning systems and security issues, and ultimately avoid large development costs down the line.
The Perfect Pairing
The best-case scenario for WordPress maintenance is to pair a qualified development team with a secured hosting platform like WP Engine that features a development staging area and a daily backup system.
The WP Engine hosting platform easily allows you to make a staging copy of the website – a perfect copy of the site that is behind-the-scenes and not viewable to website traffic. A developer can use the staging platform to run updates and try out new plugins.
WP Engine’s automatic backup feature will help ensure your data is kept safe — and you have the option to return to a specific backup point if necessary.
Remember that failing to take frequent or full backups can be a recipe for disaster if your site is hacked — and Google reported an increase in the number of hacked sites by approximately 32 percent in 2016 over 2015. You might like to think you’re immune, but unfortunately, any site can be a target. Knowing you can quickly restore your site if the worst happens should provide you with a peace of mind.
The Biggest Takeaway
It’s important to find a qualified web development team or web developer to take care of security and website updates for your WordPress site — and an IT person or website designer is probably not the right person for this. When it comes to WordPress maintenance, you need a qualified professional that can detect and resolve issues using programming skills so that your website and business don’t suffer and you’re delivering the most secure WordPress experience possible.
About The Author
Chris Andujar is the Hosting/Maintenance Manager at TinyFrog Technologies, a full-service web agency specializing in WordPress maintenance and web development. TinyFrog has been a proud partner of WP Engine since 2013 and with its WP maintenance service, TinyFrog currently protects over 500 client websites from “croaking.”