The Importance of Regular Website Maintenance

Something we say so often at 14 Oranges that I sometimes feel like I’m a broken record is, “A website requires more than simply a set-it-and-forget-it approach, it requires regular TLC.” While most small business websites do not require constant monitoring or updates, regular maintenance is still important, regardless of the size of your business or the traffic your site receives.

As you launch your website, it’s best practice to ensure you have a web maintenance program in place to ensure your website is always working optimally and that you’re not vulnerable to hackers.

What is Website Maintenance?

Web maintenance refers to the process of keeping a website up-to-date and running smoothly. This involves performing basic housekeeping tasks such as updating to the latest version of WordPress and its plugins. Similar to maintaining your lawn or your backyard pool, regular website maintenance is crucial to ensuring that it remains secure and functional.

Web maintenance isn’t a one-time operation, but rather an ongoing process that requires periodic attention. While some website platforms may be better than others, those who use WordPress should expect to devote a bit of tender loving care to their website from time to time.

Generally, performing website maintenance twice a year is sufficient, but if any high-security issues arise, it is best to update the website right away.

Why is Website Maintenance Important?

Regular web maintenance is essential to keep websites secure and protect them from potential attacks. While you may be thinking that your small business would never be the target of potential hacking, you might be surprised to know that regular web maintenance is crucial for every website, regardless of its size or popularity. Hackers do not discriminate–they use bots that can scan any website to detect its platform and version, and can then use that information to exploit your site using various automated techniques.

For example, if a website is built on WordPress, the hacker will determine the version of WordPress used and check for any known exploits that can be used to gain access to the site. Depending on their end goals, a hacker may change the website’s content, gain access to user databases and passwords, or even hide malicious code or pages. This automation makes it irrelevant whether the website is a small ‘mom-and-pop’ shop or a large corporation like Amazon.

What Tactics Do Hackers Use?

Hackers use various tactics when attempting to hack a website. They may lock your website’s server and demand a ransom in exchange for restoring access to the website. Or, they may access your website’s user database to obtain usernames and passwords, which can then be used for other malicious purposes. For instance, the hacker may use your website’s server to launch a Denial of Service (DDoS) attack on another website or use it as a resource for further hacking. In this case, the hacker may not find any valuable information on the server, but the server itself can be used as a tool to increase its reach and impact. By using multiple servers or bots, the hacker can increase their attack rate and hit a greater number of websites, resulting in more potential targets and increased damage.

Hackers often choose a time to hack a website when they think they’ll have the most opportunity or longest period of time to do whatever they want to do without being detected. This often means they’ll wait until the end of the day on a Friday, which can sometimes mean the attack isn’t detected until Monday, by which time a lot of damage may have been done.

A Little Downtime Can Save a Lot of Time

Web maintenance does not take a lot of time and can be done periodically, similar to a pool cleaner who checks the pool once a week or once a month to ensure water quality is good and all the pumps and equipment are operating as expected. Onboarding for new customers may take an hour to four hours, sometimes up to a day, to get everything in order, but after that, regular maintenance generally takes only 10-15 minutes for regular maintenance.

Occasionally, WordPress updates may break things, requiring extra work to find a replacement, fix the code, or revert to a previous version. We can conduct the maintenance at a time when there is the least disruption to your business so you’ll hardly notice it has taken place

It’s important to note that, just like with your pool, if you let it go for a while, it becomes a bigger job. Investing and taking time regularly can help you save time down the road. Plus, protecting your website from hackers can also prevent much more major downtime that would occur as a result of a compromised website.

The Value of Regular Website Backups

Backing up your website is another crucial step in providing peace of mind from potential hacks or data loss. While you may have everything up-to-date and running smoothly, the possibility of a hack always exists, even if that risk is quite low for the average small business website.

If this were to happen, backups allow you to easily restore your website to a previous, uncompromised state. By simply selecting a backup from the appropriate time period, you can eliminate the malicious code or content and get your website back up and running smoothly in no time. Backups are often the easiest way to mitigate the impact of a hack or other unforeseen event, making them a vital component of any comprehensive website maintenance plan. The frequency of backups depends on the frequency of updates to your sites. If you are making updates on a daily basis, daily backups are recommended; otherwise, weekly backups should suffice. We also recommend keeping your backups on a separate server from where your website is being hosted. That way if your server is compromised, you can grab your backup from that location and relaunch your website on a new server.

The 14 Oranges Annual Website Maintenance Program

If all of this extra effort is making your head spin, fear not. We offer an Annual Maintenance Program to handle all of this work. Our annual maintenance program includes the following:

  1. Initial review and assessment.
  2. Installation and configuration of software firewall.
  3. Content Management System (CMS) updates (twice a year).
  4. Extension/Plugin updates (twice a year).
  5. Weekly site and database backups with offline storage for up to 2 years

A Potentially Priceless Investment

While you may not think investing the time or money into a web maintenance program is worthwhile, it can easily become a priceless investment if it prevents you from losing your website to a hacker or experiencing any major issues during a critical moment for your business. A regularly scheduled web maintenance program can give you peace of mind and often helps you save time and money in the long run by ensuring any potential issues are addressed quickly and smoothly.

If you have questions about web maintenance or are worried that your site may be at risk, the team at 14 Oranges can help. Book a call with us and we can discuss how we can help.

Sylvain Marcotte is CEO and President of 14 Oranges.

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