Health Check Plugin

The free WP Health Check plugin is a relatively new arrival, having been introduced a few months ago by “The WordPress.org community”. It has a remarkably polarized set of user reviews – divided almost exclusively between 5s (“Works great!”) and 1s (“Warning! Broke my site!”).  The authors strongly urge to backup your site before installing and using this plugin – always a good idea.

wp health check plugin

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Optimizing the WP Database

Optimizing the WP databaseEvery time I edit a post or page, WP keeps a copy of the old version in my database. It is a great feature, handy when I mess up and need to revert to the previous version. But once my post or page is final, I have no use for the prior revisions. By default, WP keeps all the old versions, forever, and they can add up over time. I recently checked one of my sites and was surprised to find 3,566 useless old pages cluttering up my database. A large, cluttered database slows my site, as the server takes longer to retrieve information.

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Uptime Monitoring

keep track of uptime in practiceWP hosting providers, even at the low end, almost universally claim ninety-nine-point-something percent uptime. I want to keep track of uptime in practice, not just claimed or ‘guaranteed’. I use both of the most widely recommended free uptime monitors – Uptime Robot and StatusCake. Both are easy – though somewhat different – to set up, and both offer a free tier. By using both, I hope to catch transient downtime that one or the other may miss. On the free tier Uptime checks my sites every five minutes and StatusCake – well, they don’t really say, just a “Slower interval rate” than the one minute interval of the lowest cost paid plan. Both monitor from multiple locations across the globe. And both will happily take my money if I opt for a more robust paid plan.

Down for Maintenance Page

temporary Down for Maintenance pageIf my site crashes, or I have to take it offline for maintenance, I want to redirect all traffic to a temporary ‘Down for Maintenance’ page. And I want to get the page up quickly, so my visitors are greeted by a relatively friendly page, not just an error. It seems a good practice to be proactive and create a simple ‘Down for Maintenance’ html page and htaccess file to redirect traffic, so that both are ready to deploy in a jiffy when needed.

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Automatic updating WP, themes, and plugins

Automatic updating WP, themes, and pluginsThe vast majority of hacked WordPress sites were compromised due to outdated plugins, themes, or WP core. I need to keep my site updated. But should I update manually, or automatically? If I choose automatic, updates will be more timely but there is always a small chance that an update will break something. If I update manually, I can make a full site backup first, and restore if anything breaks – but I am at more risk of a hack occurring in between my manual updates.

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Keys and Salts

change my WP keys and saltsWordPress uses a cookie to keep track of my login state. While the technical details are a bit out of my comfort zone, if an attacker gets his or her hands on or forges my admin authentication cookie, he or she could take over my admin role and cause a great deal of mischief.

I can easily make my authentication cookie much more secure using keys and salts stored in my wp-config.php file. Google can easily find details and instructions in a number of articles, including All You Need To Know On the WordPress Unique Authentication Keys and Salts.

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WP Backups

#1 most important WP security and maintenance practiceMy #1 most important WP security and maintenance practice: Always have an up-to-date backup, stored off my site. If I irreparably mess up my site, or it gets hacked in spite of my precautions, I can delete everything and restore from backup. If my host provider doesn’t love me anymore and locks me out, or goes bankrupt and disappears, I can restore to a new host provider.

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