It can happen in the blink of an eye. One minute you’re installing a plugin that’s supposed to add a fun photo slider to your author website, the next minute an error message is staring back at you from your computer screen.
Or even worse—you’re having a great time at a writing conference, then suddenly you get a text from a friend who was trying to read your blog. Everything just went kaput.
Like any crisis, a website emergency can be impossible to predict. But it’s easy to be prepared for the worst when you know what to look out for ahead of time.
Here are just a few things that could go wrong on your author website—and how you can avoid disaster.
1. A Bad Plugin On The Loose
If you’re using WordPress, there’s an endless sea of plugins available at your fingertips. You can add everything from social media widgets to an entire classifieds section to your site in just a few quick clicks.
But the flexibility that makes open source software so great to work with can also lead to problems. Most plugins have been created by third-party developers who don’t work directly with the folks at WordPress or with each other. And while most plugins usually play well together, there’s always the chance that codes could conflict—and possibly crash your site.
How to prepare ahead of time: Choose your plugins with care! It’s easy to find reviews and accounts of common problems. If it looks like a plugin hasn’t been updated in a few years, or the developer has gone AWOL, it probably isn’t going to be very compatible with the latest version of WordPress or more up-to-date plugins. Don’t install it.
2. Those Pesky Server Issues
A Web server is the actual hardware on which the data of your website lives. The possible causes of a server crash are endless, from a usage overload to a power outage where the server is stored.
In most cases, your best option will be to call or email your hosting provider. A good host will fix the problem for you; an even better one will tell you how to avoid the problem in the future, if possible.
How to prepare ahead of time: Research hosting options thoroughly—see what people have to say about server reliability, uptime, customer service, and security. And make sure you choose a hosting package that fits your site’s needs. A website with lots of content, tons of plugins, and a high traffic volume is going to need much more disk space, bandwidth, and memory than a smaller, less-trafficked site.
3. Hackers, Malware, And Brute Force—Oh My!
It’s easy to believe that only big, important websites get hacked. But the truth is, most hacking operations are done by automated scripts and bots that crawl the Web, searching for security loopholes and unencrypted data on any website, big or small.
Attacks like this can wreak havoc on a writer’s website. You could lose admin access. Your site could infect visitors’ computers. Or the entire site could be wiped out. Brute force attacks on WordPress sites can cause server overloads, which could take down every site on the same server. In a worst-case scenario, the damage is irreversible.
How to prepare ahead of time: While researching your hosting options, ask about security. A good host will be up front about what they do to protect their servers. And since hackers and bots are known to exploit known security loopholes in site software, make sure to keep WordPress and your plugins updated so that the latest fixes are in place.
The #1 Preventative Measure
Although there are many bad things that could happen to your site, there’s one smart thing you can do to safeguard against total site annihilation:
Back. Everything. Up.
We can’t stress enough the importance of making backups of your site! You should make backups weekly or at least any time you make changes to your site (before and after).
Whether you’re experiencing a small coding hiccup or a total website meltdown, having a backed up copy of your site can be the ultimate lifesaver.
If this all sounds too complicated or technical for you, don’t stress. Web Design Relief can build you an author website with a Hosting Care Package that includes all of the aforementioned safety measures: weekly secure backups, protection against hackers and brute force attacks, and we’ll update your WordPress and plugins so you don’t have to worry about messing anything up. This way, you’ll have more time to write and less to worry about!
Photo by Cristiano Betta
QUESTION: Have you ever experienced a website emergency? How did your site recover?