5 WordPress Tips to Make Your Site Less Buggy and More Secure

Make Your Site Less Buggy and More Secure

WordPress is the most popular content management system on the web, with over 50 million websites currently using it. In fact, there are more than 3 times as many websites running on WordPress than there are on the next closest competitor, Joomla. Many people are drawn to WordPress because of its ease of use, endless customization options, and availability of a multitude of plugins. However, not all plugins are created equal — some can actually make your site less secure or buggy. We've compiled 5 tips for you to check out that will help you troubleshoot issues and prevent bugs from cropping up in the future.

1. Use a dedicated IP address for your site

If you use a shared IP address to host your site, you won’t be able to tell who’s clicking on your ads. You also won’t be able to tell if an affiliate is generating sales for you or not. We recommend narrowing down your search to a list of plugins that compile performance data with other websites that use WordPress. A popular plugin to help with this is Amplify Test, available on Github. There are plugins for understanding and reporting on the performance of specific plugins. You might learn something useful about the performance of specific plugins that you hadn’t previously thought of. Debug your plugins from within your site if possible (the next section), and report errors, concerns, and questions directly to the plugin maintainer.

If you’re using some custom JavaScript code to add personalization to your posts or pages, it’s a good idea to make sure you can test this code from within WordPress, rather than outside of it. Again, it’s easiest to do this from an external location since it allows you to simply fire a GET request to your local server, and it’ll redirect you to whatever is displayed. However, there are sometimes website-specific plugins you may need, which you’ll need to install directly into your site.

WPMU DEV offers a free and powerful plugin that can help you see exactly what is currently running on your site. It is essentially a dashboard for your preview screen, and it’s a great option if you want to quickly see what the current code is doing and if there are any performance issues.

If you have an affiliate program, you can need to monitor the health of your plugins and themes. Amplify is a great plugin to help with this. There are several types of monitoring plugins, depending on the kind of data they could collect. If you’re setting this up for analytics or reporting reasons, you may want to consider going with a plugin such as StatsPath.

2. Back up your database (and do it regularly) to prevent data loss in the event of a server crash

Backups are crucial for the security of your business’s data. If you don’t have a backup of your website’s database, then you could lose all of your website’s data if your hosting server crashes. Setting up a regular backup is an absolute necessity if you’re serious about making sure your website won’t go down if something goes wrong with your hosting provider or a bad outage occurs. With regular backups, your website can be accessed not just once but multiple times if a bad connection or server crash wipes out your previous backup. WordPress comes with a built-in function for backing up your site (see screenshot below). To utilize this function, all you need to do is go to the Settings » Administration » Backups page and select Back Up Now from the Backup dropdown menu. (If you’re using a droplet, go to the Droplets » Backups page instead.)

If you enable two-factor authentication, you need to make sure the backup you’re creating is both a local backup and a secured one. Two-factor authentication allows you to verify that you’re the person who is providing the backup by including the second string of text on the backup or more commonly known as a verification code. You should create at least one backup to verify that your website remains accessible. Once you get the hang of this process, you can set up that second backup image to automatically backup your entire site to another folder on your local disk. After you set this up, you’ll have your verification code on hand to log in to your website whenever you need to access your files.

It’s likely that most data breaches are due to users’ own negligence, rather than some external attack. One of the best ways to mitigate such an attack is also to minimize the time users spend on your site.

3. Keep WordPress and all plugins up-to-date

Keeping WordPress and all of your plugins up-to-date is crucial for your site’s security. Outdated plugins can be exploited by hackers to inject malicious code into your site. If you’re not sure if your plugins are up-to-date, you should check. Plugins are listed on the Plugins page of your WordPress dashboard, under the Updates category.

If you’re having trouble figuring out which plugins are causing problems for your site, use our wp plugin repository search to find the ones that may be causing trouble. If you can’t find any problems, you don’t need to be jumping up and down yelling ‘VIRUS!’ every time you open a wordpress.com page.

Luckily, it is easy to troubleshoot a WordPress plugin. First, navigate to your plugins directory, and locate the wordpress.org folder. This folder has a file for each plugin, together with related folders and files such as JavaScript, stylesheets, and other scripts. Plugins include information on what they do, as well as updated information. Be sure to double-click on the plugin name to get a details page. You should also find a Logging and Versioning tab. The Logging tab shows you any information logged by that particular plugin.

If you can see any issues, such as a declining response time or rate limit, it may be a sign that the plugin is bleeding into other parts of the site, potentially causing an increase in traffic. This is especially important if you’re not seeing these issues with the specific web app that you’re using. For example, if you’re seeing large spikes when visiting a popular blog, but they’re offset by a slightly lower response time when visiting a different site, it may be a sign that your backend is giving conflicting information to your frontend. In this case, fixing the plugin may require you to close the backend and open it up as a new instance.

You can also manually spot a plugin’s issues by navigating to the Version Control page for the plugin and clicking on the Logging tab.

4. Limit the number of plugins you use

WordPress is a great platform but can slow down your site if you use too many plugins. If you don’t need a plugin, don’t install it. The same goes for any new themes you add to your site.

It’s always a good idea to find out whether or not a plugin is actually adding anything to your site. If it’s not listed on the official plugin page on the WordPress.org website, information about it will either be buried in the fine print of the installer or remain “hidden” in the “details” tab. In case a plugin is a security risk, it’s best to leave it at home. Even then, the best advice to follow is to leave as many options as possible to customize your site as you wish. This doesn’t mean you have to go hunting for incompatible or deprecated plugins, either. The official plugin resources page is your best option for finding something compatible.

If you’re really confused about which plugins are compatible and which aren’t, a plugin compatibility tool is for you! First of all, make sure you won’t have to reinstall plugins because they change things on your site. In general, they all have comprehensive changelog pages with full details — find them on the plugin's site. Second, check out the relevant section of the “Add New” page. Here you’ll be able to find categories of plugins by name, license, or priority. To find compatibility tools, execute the following search, replacing plugin-name with the plugin in question: wp plugin: compatibility-tool

As the last technique to avoid compatibility problems, research whether or not your current plugins have security vulnerabilities. Not every plugin has a security flaw, but if you don’t know if your existing plugins are affected, you’re making it more likely for one to appear in the first place. It’s always best to use the official plugin download links for any security issues, especially if a security risk could affect your site.

5. Avoid custom themes unless they're absolutely necessary

Custom themes can be a great way to stand out, but they can also be very difficult to maintain. If you're not ready to put in the time to update your custom theme, go with the default theme instead. This way, you'll save time and energy that you can put into other parts of your site.

You should never use the same theme for more than one website. Using the same theme will cause the user experience to suffer since they will see it on every page. For example, if each of your websites uses the same HTML code, you’ll end up with varying layout options and font choices. Add new tags to your HTML or CSS file that point to your unique theme.

All plugins should be reviewed if they are not yet — or expect to continue to be — up to date. Wolnyzer is a tool that allows WordPress sites to be automatically updated. Keeping your site up-to-date is imperative if your website is to have a long lifespan.

Not all plugins can be easily installed from the dashboard or through the menus. If you’re having trouble getting a plugin installed, you might need to get in touch with the plugin developer support team. Sometimes, they can help you find a way to circumvent some of the plugin’s problems or even provide you a solution yourself.

Check out the plugin's documentation page to make sure it has all of the information it needs to do what it’s supposed to do. If the plugin could be improved in some way, this documentation page is a great place to start. Since websites are always changing with new plugin releases, make sure to add any add-on functionality that you rely upon to those pages now in the future.

The best bet for troubleshooting problems is to first locate the root cause in your coding. Try to replicate the issue with other versions of WordPress and other plugins. Most bugs are actually in one specific plugin that affects multiple websites or is introduced with an update.


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