Why is it necessary to maintain WordPress?
In order to answer that question, it is important to understand on a base level how WordPress runs. There are three major components that make a WordPress site operational and functional:
- WordPress core files
- Theme files
Then, there is the server environment. The operating system and programming language and databasing system that all three of these run on. The most popular of course being:
- Linux (operating system)
- PHP (programming language)
- MySQL/MariaDB (database).
Now, let’s answer the question
WordPress is the most popular CMS (Content Management System) out there. I’ve seen reports where it shows that 34% of all websites on the internet are WordPress sites, as well as 61% of the CMS market. This shows how versatile, popular and powerful WordPress is. We’ve been developing websites in WordPress for over 15 years and there hasn’t been a functionality yet that hasn’t been accomplished with a plugin.
Now, because it’s so popular, it also makes it vulnerable to attacks. Although the core files to WordPress are pretty solid (vulnerabilities are found and fixed however), weaknesses are also found in theme files an plugin files. Every time you add a plugin to your WordPress site, it adds Jscript and CSS files. And, each theme installed in WordPress also has it’s own scripts as well. So, this is why updates need to be made to these sections on a regular basis, for not only is functionality improved by the developer, but vulnerabilities are fixed.
For example: here is a vulnerability report for September 15th, 2021. There’s 64 plugin vulnerabilities, one theme vulnerability and 1 WordPress update shown. Now, this is just what’s been reported so far! It’s an ongoing situation where these three areas are always finding various problems and enhancements.
On top of that, you want to be sure when you update any of these three file sections, it’s not going to break your site! Meaning, if you update your WordPress core files and there are plugins that aren’t compatible with the new version of WordPress, then your site can break and there will be a blank or error page. Or, if you update your theme files and some plugins aren’t compatible with the new theme files, it can also break your site. And, you guessed it…if you update your plugin files and they’re not compatible with your theme files then again…your site might go blank.
So, it’s important to not only make sure all your files are updated for optimal speed and performance, but you have to check for compatibility before you update.
Server Environment Compatibility
If all of that is confusing, then let me throw in another wrench into the mix. Server environment. Most WordPress sites run on a Linux operating system (Centos, Red Hat) with PHP and MySQL (or MariaDB). It’s the most popular. PHP and MySQL can run on a Windows system, but most of the time it’s Linux. Anyway, where most people lose sight of the server environment is the version of the scripting language, PHP their site is using. Well, PHP has security holes and enhancements to it as well. So, it too needs to be updated and phased out eventually. As of this writing any version of PHP below 7.3 is out of date and is susceptible to attacks. The End of Life of PHP 7.3 is December 6, 2021. So, you have to be sure that your WordPress site is running at least 7.4 to be safe (we don’t have any WordPress site we’re hosting on anything less than 7.4). Ideally, you want to be running PHP 8.
The same thing applies with server environment we talked about earlier. If you update your PHP version to 8.0 and your theme files or plugin files aren’t compatible with PHP 8.0, then your site will break.
This is why it’s important to pay attention to all 4 areas of what is running your website:
- WordPress Core Files
- WordPress Theme Files
- WordPress Plugin Files
- Server Environment (especially which version of PHP is running)
Then, you have to be sure that all 4 areas are compatible with each other.
If this is making your head spin, that’s why we do what we do. We have WordPress maintenance plans that take the stress out of running a website. We handle all the updating, all the maintenance and all the backup of your website. Whether you host your WordPress website with us or not, we are here to make sure your site is running optimally and securely.
Contact us today to have us transfer your WordPress site to us for worry-free website maintenance and backup.