While it is easy to be online with a WordPress site, the real task starts after you are online. Do you know all the things that go wrong with your WordPress site? Read on to find out.
Every person wanting to start a blog or a small business has heard the words “you can be online in just 5 minutes”. This is true and this is what makes WordPress popular. However, very few people realize that owning a self-hosted WordPress site is the beginning. There are many things that could go wrong with your site… Right from accidentally deleting files, posts or plugins to a bunch of problems with your hosting provider.
A WordPress site and its web host need to fit well together. Finding the the best for your WordPress site might take some trial and error. Even if you do find the option with the least worries there are still many issues you can run into. The key lies in knowing what the potential issues are and finding answers to as many questions as possible from the start. This is a list of many possible things that can go wrong with your WordPress site.
WordPress Host Hardware Issues
The hardware in a web host is one of the most common problems to arise. Everything from overworked hard disks, power surges, heating issues to natural disasters and accidents can cause hardware failures.
Usually hard disks are said to be the hardware component to fail most frequently. It is not surprising because most hard disks (which are HDDs) rely on moving mechanical parts. This increases not only the probability of wear and tear, but also heating due to friction, and the rate of failure. This is true when compared to the alternative to HDD, the SSD. There are no moving parts, they are silent and reduce chances of heating too, but SSD cards are more expensive and have a high failure rate too.
Heating issues are generally exacerbated by outdated hardware or when there is insufficient cooling infrastructure. On the flip side, if a hosting provider stuffs a room with servers then the cooling infrastructure might prove to be inadequate, automatically heating the hardware as well as the environment. This increases the failure rate in hardware and more likely heating causes performance lags in servers and in turn in your WordPress site.
Something you may not pay attention to, is the location of your web host’s infrastructure and how prone that location is to natural disasters. If your web host is in a location that is prone to flooding, earthquakes or tornadoes then you might want to ask them about the preparations they have made in case of such eventualities. Even cases of heavy storms, lightning has hit data centers causing damage.
Not just natural disasters, even accidents can cause unexpected trouble, such as the freak accident in which an SUV crashed into a building knocking out the power generator of a data center.
Your WordPress Site Is Hacked
WordPress not only the dominant entity in the CMS market now, it is also the fastest growing CMS too. This means that WordPress is big and here to stay for the foreseeable future. This popularity provides hackers a large target.
WordPress is open source software, dependent on plugins and themes and popular. All these points contribute to the CMS being a popular target of hackers.
While vulnerabilities on WordPress core are patched quickly, the security through transparency model means that anyone keeping tabs of WP news knows which vulnerabilities were found, where they were found and what is the patch. This system is just part of the deal when dealing with the open source platform- WordPress.
WordPress, because it depends on plugins and themes to make it extensible is also in an unique position because one of its biggest strengths is also the source of most of its vulnerabilities.
Remember, modern day hackers are not targeting sites but have bots crawling the net searching for vulnerabilities. If you are not practicing basic security practices like updating everything then your WordPress site is at risk.
Hosting Provider Issues
While creating a WordPress site may be easy, hosting it can bring up many complications. This is especially true for WordPress sites on shared hosting. On shared hosting your server might be overloaded if your hosting provider hosts too many sites on your server affecting the performance of your site.
Apart from site performance and uptime you also have to worry about the name server going down, again your hosting provider getting hacked, your account being suspended by your hosting provider, or your hosting provider is going out of business.
Natural Disasters & Accidents
Hosting providers even today are affected by natural disasters and accidents. While your web host’s infrastructure may be built with disasters such as earthquakes, floods and tornadoes in mind, it might not be true for all data centers. The best defence of course is to ensure that data centers are not built in such locations. However, this is not always possible in the 21st century. The next best option is to be prepared.
This equally true for accidents too. Not only can accidents cause significant damage to your web host, they can also impose significant financial losses to both your web host and you as a WordPress site owner.
The cost of downtime is going up all the time because it not only means the accountable loss in transactions for e-commerce sites but also the more qualitative measure of visitors’ perception of credibility. If not as serious then you could simply lose visitors because there is no destination for them to see and with which to engage.
It is best to plan for a WordPress backup solution that is truly a disaster recovery plan. This means not only reduce or eliminate dependability on your web hosting service, their infrastructure or backups but also protecting your WordPress site from damages caused due to weather which may affect your web host.
WordPress is of course an open-source CMS which is extremely popular. This also means that a large number of novices are developing for/on it. Such processes make WordPress extensible and contribute to it is popularity, but also expose it to exploits.
However, along with security scares, bad code on WordPress themes and plugins cause the following compatibility and performance issues:
- Compatibility with WordPress
- Compatibility with the theme
- Compatibility with other plugins installed on the site
- Proliferation of plugins
- Security concerns
- Performance lag
Apart from all these issues bad code might lead to the dreaded the ‘White Screen of Death’ too. Updating plugins and themes with bad code is one of the reasons for this to occur.
Updating WordPress Plugins & Themes
This means that updating, which is a necessary security step, becomes a serious concern for WordPress site owners. The site may stop being functional and depending on the seriousness of the issue availability of redundancies, your site could be down for hours.
In such cases you have few options that might ease your burden:
- To start off with the basics making WordPress backups must be the first step of updating your themes & plugins
- If you’re using a backup service that allows you to test your backups before you restore, then you can you can even use it to test updates before making changes to your live site.
- Also, in case you make updates to the live site and it doesn’t work out for you, then you can simply restore a backup. This saves time that might have been wasted in figuring out which plugin is at fault for taking your site down.
With a self-hosted WordPress site human errors can occur from two ends- you the WordPress site owner, or the web hosting company.
Accidental file deletions
As site owner you may delete files, plugins, or even posts. Recovering these may be a difficult job if you do not have them backed up because not all web hosts make WordPress backups and among those that do, not all do it on a daily basis.
Not Renewing Hosting Contract
This seems like a simple enough point and in the modern world with email reminders, it seems like a point that shouldn’t be in this section but it happens often enough for us to not mention it. In this case, you must know what your web hosting company’s policy is, regarding your data.
Accidental file deletions, or rebooting the system has been reported often enough now for it to be part of our checklist to test the efficacy of a given WordPress backup plan. Unlike individual site owners, when a hosting provider runs a script deleting a file or reboots a section of the data center the scale of the consequence is much bigger. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to underestimate the damage of a single business site losing all its customer and transactions related data. However, generally, errors by hosting providers tend have a bigger effect in terms of scale than a single WordPress user deleting a post on their site.
Data Center Issues
A data center can be divided into four parts:
- Building shell
- IT equipment
- Electrical Infrastructure
- Mechanical Infrastructure – Cooling infrastructure
A data center may face issue in each of these four sections/parts. Apart form this your data can be threatened when your WordPress hosting service’s data center itself is hacked or hit by a natural disaster.
The building shell is obviously the first line of defense. It can regulate access and keep the inside equipment safe. The IT equipment is the very business of the data centers – this refers to the servers, storage and communication equipment. Servers and storage can fail either due to wear and tear, heating or power surges, among other causes.
Communication equipment like cables and switches is not easily visualized generally. A single cable not connected properly or knocked off during maintenance can cause a lot grief. The same can be said of uplink failures, or when network switches fail or undersea cables get cut. A case when a network switch failed and took down four popular web hosting companies, is a good example of how of such issues cause serious enough damage for you consider them a threat to your WordPress site’s uptime.
We mentioned the importance of electrical infrastructure in the previous section. Equally important and closely connected to the electrical infrastructure is the cooling equipment and all the other non-IT equipment that the electricity powers.
If A Data Center Is Hacked?
If a data center is hacked then your data may be compromised. What is not obvious is that you may not always lose your data to the hacker. There have also been cases when data centers have gone out business because of a single hack. This means even if your site may not be directly compromised, you might still have to find ways to secure your data.
The point to remember is that your data- your website and your backups are at risk even if your site/server is not hacked. Which is why you must have backups which are completely independent of your web host’s data center.
Power Failures in Data Centers
Power supply is the cornerstone of a good web hosting. If there is adequate and constant power supply is then it powers not only the servers but all the other equipment required to keep the web host running- air handlers/cooling/heating/ventilation, lighting, UPS system and generators, fire suppression systems, alarm systems. Needless to say, a reliable web host must have adequate power backup which is tested and functional. If backups fall short then you might be looking at frequent downtimes which may add up to costing you a significant amount. Asking about your host’s power backup system may be an important factor in your decision making process when the time comes to choose a web host.
Bad hardware— outdated power backup systems, lack of maintenance, and lack of testing for power failure are all part of reasons why a data center may experience power outages.
Completely Independent WordPress Backups
It is obvious to think— “I have backups. My hosting provider does it for free! I’m safe.” This along with the addition of a moderate financial burden turns most people away from backups. However, ask yourself this— Can I access my WordPress backups when every single point mentioned above does go wrong? If not, then your WordPress backup is not a disaster recovery plan. It is as simple as that. The reason for this is that the functionality and security of your backups are dependent on your web host.
All WordPress backups have one purpose, WordPress restores. For this you might want to rely on a comprehensive WordPress backup service which is all about restores, BlogVault.
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