Efficiently hosting a WordPress site

Hosting a WordPress site is easy, but efficiently hosting a WordPress site is the hard part. Sure, you could easily just install WordPress, install a theme that looks good, maybe install a few plugins, and leave it there, but efficiently hosting and maintaining a WordPress site can be more difficult.

If you want to get the most of of WordPress, and keep system resources, costs, and your visitors’ page load times low, you will need to build and maintain that site as efficiently as possible. In this post, we will show you some ways to ensure that your WordPress site is running in top shape at all times.

Keep your WordPress installation updated at all times

WordPress, just like any other widely used and open source content management system is subject to bugs and security flaws. The majority of issues that I see on a daily basis are simply due to out of date WordPress installations.

WordPress now includes the ability to automatically update itself for any maintenance releases. While this does not apply to major releases such as 3.9 to 4.0, it will update your site automatically for minor and maintenance releases such as security issues.

Clean out those themes and plugins

Often, users will simply deactivate plugins and themes instead of fully removing them. Although deactivated, the files are still there and can lead to various bugs and security issues.

When not using a plugin or theme, be sure to fully remove it. You can always reinstall it if you find a need for it in the future.

Avoid bloated themes and plugins

Many users will go for a single plugin that does everything but the problem with that is that there are a lot of other options within the plugin or theme that they will never use. Avoid plugins or themes that are an “all in one” solution and instead of going for something that does everything. For example, if you just need to display a small Twitter widget, go for a widget that does just that, not something that includes various other things such as extra share buttons in your post or an entire page of Twitter posts. While those elements are not being shown, the code itself will usually use more system resources.

Some themes and plugins may also be poorly coded in which they will use up more resources than necessary. Although they may be attractive, there is most likely a theme or plugin that will look just as good, but use half the resources of a poorly coded theme. A good starting point in this would be to only purchase themes from reputable sources.

More and more caching

Caching can be critical in improving the performance of your site. Caching simply allows dynamic elements to be run a single time and then serve static elements to all of the users allowing for less system resources, and a quicker page load time for all visitors.

Plugins such as W3 Total Cache can easily configure caching for you with just a few simple clicks.

Use a CDN for all static content

A CDN will allow you to serve your static files from various locations depending on your visitor which will allow much quicker page load times. Aside from the user’s perspective, your server will also be able to offload those resources to another service that is specifically tuned to do exactly that, allowing a lower effect on server resources.

Services such as MaxCDN are able to cheaply boost the performance of your site, and are very easy to set up within plugins such as W3 Total Cache.

Make regular backups

Ensure that you always have backups ready to go if anything were to happen to your site. If something happened to cause you to lose all of your data, or you made a change that completely breaks your site, you will have a backup ready to go.

Most users don’t understand the need for backups until they need them, so proactively make backups when changes are made, as well as incremental backups every week, month, year, etc. Several plugins such as BackUpWordPress will be able to easily back up your WordPress site with just a couple clicks.

In addition to making regular backups, be sure that you are also storing them off of the server. Many times when a user is compromised, it will also affect the backups as well. Storing the backups in a location such as Google Drive or Dropbox will ensure that your backups are always readily available.

Maintain like a madman

Of course, once you have everything set up, be sure to continuously maintain your site at all times. Even if the site is a purely informational site that isn’t updated much, keep checking up on it to ensure that everything is running smoothly often. Sometimes you may notice a small issue that if discovered early, can drastically affect whether that small issue turns into a big one later down the road.

Running a website is much more than simply tossing it up and leaving it there. Treat it like a pet that continuously needs love and care.