5 Bad Habits that Can Hurt your WordPress Website

speckyboy.com speckyboy.com3 years ago in #Dev Love79

When you build a WordPress website, you open yourself up to an entire world of possibilities. That is both a good and bad thing. The built-in conveniences and ability to extend functionality with just a few clicks make site owners feel at ease. The bright side is that this allows us to do more with a shoestring budget than we may have thought possible. But it can also lull us into a false sense of security. The result is that we may be putting our websites at risk without fully realizing it. WordPress, after all, is not a set-it-and-forget-it CMS. On the contrary, it requires us to develop good practices and constant vigilance. Here are five bad habits that, while innocent in intent, can bring unwanted drama to your WordPress install. We’ll cover both what can go wrong and provide simple solutions that will help you avoid future problems. Leaving Unused Plugins Installed It’s a pretty common practice. We search through the WordPress Plugin Repository and find something of interest. We install it and plan on seeing what it can do. However, maybe it isn’t a great fit, or maybe we never test it at all. Still, it sits there. Keeping unused plugins around can be costly. From a security perspective, it can be dangerous. A vulnerable piece of code could very well lead to malware being installed on your server. This could, in turn, do untold amounts of damage to your site. The unfortunate truth is that not all plugins are well-written or maintained. Some are even abandoned by their authors. If you happen to be the unlucky person who still has one of these plugins installed, you are a target. Beyond that, the more plugins you have installed, the harder it is to troubleshoot any errors that arise. Clutter only serves to complicate the process. The Solution It’s okay to install plugins and test them out (preferably on a staging site). But make a habit of removing unwanted plugins – even those that aren’t currently active on your website. Routinely browse through your WordPress back end to check for items you don’t need. Assuming Your Website Is Secure Security is an area where a lot of us tend to have a blind spot. Not that we ignore it completely, mind you. But it is easy to become lax. This can happen for a number of reasons. If your website hasn’t been hacked (to your knowledge, at least), you may think everything is just fine. Or maybe your web host boasts that it’s the most secure platform on Earth. Or perhaps you’ve taken a few minimal steps and feel that’s enough. Whatever the reason, we are often more reactive than proactive. This means learning our lessons the hard way – after something bad has already happened. The Solution Don’t ever assume that your website is fully secure. Just think, some of the most sophisticated systems in the world have been hacked. Your website, by comparison, is easy pickings for a malicious actor. Take security seriously at all levels. Use strong passwords, utilize a firewall or security plugin and make sure your install is up-to-date. It won’t stop every potential attack, but it can thwart the basic stuff. Letting Commercial Licenses Expire Sure, there are tons of free WordPress plugins and themes available. But there are times when commercial software just makes more sense. It might be a better fit for your needs or offer more powerful functionality. Plus, commercial-grade support is always welcome when it comes to mission-critical tools. However, these items take often take a sustained financial commitment,…

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