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Improving Security and Performance – Critical WordPress

    Most things perform better when they’re maintained. Your car needs regular oil changes. Your home needs to be vacuumed and dusted. Your WordPress website is no different.

    A little TLC can go a long way toward improving both security and performance, both of which will affect your usage and your visitors’ experience. WordPress housekeeping should be part of your regular routine, although it doesn’t have to be a serious chore.

    What tips should you follow? Glad you asked.

    Here’s our take on the most critical WordPress housekeeping tips that will impact the security and performance of your website.

    Core Updates

    Perhaps the single most important tip is this – don’t let WordPress core updates linger. Yes, applying those takes time. You’ll need to back up your website first. You may have some tidying to do afterward. However, every core update is important as they bring with them security patches and fixes, remedies for bugs, and performance and stability improvements.

    WordPress doesn’t release core updates “just for fun” or just because they feel like it. There’s a reason for each and you need to ensure you install them as soon as possible or you risk exposing your website and database to threats.

    geralt / Pixabay

    Delete Unnecessary Themes

    Themes are great. They give you a way to change your website’s appearance and functionality without having to do a lot of coding work. Most of us go through multiple themes, at least in the beginning, trying them on to see how they work and how well they fit our needs.

    The problem is that we usually forget to remove the themes we don’t end up using. They sit there, unattended, taking up space and creating risk.

    Even a deactivated theme can pose a security threat, so make sure you delete them. Ideally, you’ll do that when you decide not to use the theme, but if not, make it part of your regular housekeeping routine.

    Delete Unused Plugins

    Plugins deliver functionality to your website that isn’t available out of the box. From improved SEO to enhanced security to the ability to back up your website with the click of a button and even the ability to benefit from two-factor authentication, there’s a plugin for just about any need you might have. Of course, you need to ensure you’re choosing the right plugins to protect your site.

    However, some plugins see less use over time. Unused plugins can become security risks, and they also consume resources that could be better used in other ways. Remove unused plugins as soon as possible. Again, make this part of your regular housekeeping process.

    Upgrade/Update Plugins

    In the same vein, you need to make sure that you have the latest version of all the plugins that you’re using. Most reputable plugin developers release updates for their tools on a regular basis – if they don’t, you could have an abandoned plugin that will eventually become a security risk. Every few months, make time to check for updates and upgrades for all of your plugins.

    Most of the time, you can do this through the administration dashboard on your WordPress website, but you may also need to visit the developer’s website to update a plugin manually. Note that if a plugin does not see additional upgrades or updates, you should find one that does to replace it.

    Eventually, that plugin will no longer be compatible with WordPress core files and even if that doesn’t impact functionality, it will create a potential attack path for hackers.

    Delete Images

    3dman_eu / Pixabay

    Website design today is much more image-centric. We use big, bold pictures in many places to augment web design and create the right look and feel for our digital domains. Here’s the thing, though. Those images take up a lot of space on the server and affect performance. If you’re not using images and graphics, delete them.

    If you’re not sure if you’ll ever need them again, just move them off the server – put them in a folder on your local hard drive or on your cloud storage platform labeled “website image backups” or something similar.

    That ensures you still have access to the images if you ever want to use them again, but also that they are not consuming valuable resources. The same thing goes for any other media files, from video to audio to GIFs.

    Database

    Your database is the heart of your website. Without it, you lack all the information that makes your website uniquely yours, and you’re left with just the basic WordPress files.

    Obviously, having a healthy database is vital, but the problem is that over time, it can develop overhead. This is directly related to database use and growth and is a little similar to fragmentation within a hard drive. Data becomes scattered, and it takes longer to find the information needed at any particular moment.

    That slowdown affects your users’ experience. Regular database optimization will help keep data organized and your website running smooth. How do you optimize your database? Our Database Optimizer module is one solution.

    User Information

    Pay close attention to your website’s user information. Unused accounts need to be deleted. User data needs to be cleaned up. Permission levels need to be correct for each account to ensure that users can do what is necessary for their job role but no more.

    Not only does not cleaning up user information lead to a mess, but it can also pose a security risk to your website. User information cleanup should always be part of your regular WordPress housekeeping and maintenance routine.

    In the End

    When it’s all said and done, WordPress housekeeping doesn’t have to be arduous, but it does need to be done.

    Make these tips part of your regular cleaning and maintenance routine and you’ll enjoy a more stable, secure website and your users will have a better experience overall. Click To Tweet

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