Let’s put aside WordPress maintenance for now, and instead imagine your neighbor's house was broken into at 2 a.m. Saturday. When you found out, you decided it was time for a home security system to protect your belongings and, more importantly, your children. You went to the security company's website, and gasped when you saw the monthly fee.
So, you asked the security company, "What would it cost to have the service just every Saturday?" They told you, and you still thought that was expensive. So you asked, "How about one day each month?" This would reduce the monthly fee. But would it provide the same level of security for your family and give you the same peace of mind.
You might laugh at this example, but it's eerily similar to what some business owners and website administrators try with WordPress maintenance. They've heard that WordPress sites have been hacked, and they know WordPress sites can break, so they see the value of WordPress maintenance.
Neglecting WordPress maintenance is dangerous frugality
Even though business owners and website administrators know the value of WordPress maintenance, once they see the monthly fee for a maintenance service, they ask about doing maintenance just once a month — or quarter.
As a frugal business owner, I respect the desire to save a buck. However, this isn't the place to do that.
Just like your house can be broken into any time of any day, your website faces threats around the clock. Botnets and hackers prowl constantly. In early 2017, 1.5 million WordPress sites were hacked within a few days of disclosure of a vulnerability.
WP WhiteSecurity reports that more than 73 percent of the most popular WordPress installations are open to vulnerabilities that can be detected using free automated tools.
It takes a malicious attacker only a couple of minutes to discover vulnerabilities and exploit them.
Other reasons for ongoing WordPress maintenance
But security isn't the only reason for maintenance. Other disasters can strike at any time. Let's say an intern tries to edit your home page and accidentally wrecks it. No problem. You can just restore it, right? Oh, wait, your last backup is a month old. Are you OK with rolling back to a month-old version of your website?
A CodeGuard survey found that 63 percent of WordPress users who responded have deleted files that were not backed up. Yet 24 percent said the site site was their livelihood, and they’d pay almost anything for a complete restore. Meanwhile 19 percent said they'd be willing to spend several thousand dollars, at least!
Let's say you come to work on a Thursday and find out that your site has been down since Monday. You didn't know until today when a customer told you, because you didn't have uptime monitoring.
Imagine that you run a monthly malware scan and discover, to your horror, that your site is infected. The last time you scanned was a month ago. Has the site been infected for one day or 30? What damage has been done, and what data has been stolen, in that time?
These might sound like situations I'm making up, but I'm afraid I've seen them in real life!
Learn from the misfortune of others
I know a plumbing business that found out their website had been offline for several days.
I know a consulting firm whose website went down because the web host had a server crash. The web host didn't have a backup, and neither did the client. They scrambled to recreate their website nearly from scratch.
I know a sports coach who found unseemly images and text on his website, because a hacker defaced it days prior.
I know a PR firm that couldn't edit the content of their website because their outdated page builder plugin wasn't compatible with the latest version of WordPress.
Put yourself in their shoes. How would you have felt if it was your website, your business, and your job?
All these businesses experienced unnecessary stress and expense because they weren't doing ongoing WordPress maintenance. Don't join their ranks!
Is your WordPress maintenance intermittent or ongoing?
It's time for a pop quiz! How often do you maintain your WordPress site? Think back over the past month, then past quarter, then past year. Can you count the times you performed maintenance?
You wouldn't even think about scaling back your home security system to just one day a month. Neither should you be tempted to maintain your WordPress site infrequently. Do you have a routine you follow at least weekly? Or do you get around to it whenever you think about it?
If you're like most people, WordPress maintenance is a chore that falls to the bottom of your priority list.
But I have good news: You can take WordPress maintenance off your to-do list and put it on someone else's! In fact, WordPress maintenance companies exist for exactly that reason — to give you the benefits of a secure, well-tuned site without needing to do the work yourself.
Commit to ongoing WordPress maintenance
Whether you hire it out or do it yourself, commit today to giving your WordPress site the ongoing maintenance it deserves. Your future self and visitors (prospects and customers) will thank you!