You might be hoping that the more you know about WordPress and websites, the less anxious you get when it comes to updates and tinkering around.
Thankfully, that’s mostly true. With experience comes confidence and with confidence comes less anxiety and less tummy knots. The more you do something, the better you get at it.
But, I’m going to admit something here… on a few small occasions, there’s still a small part of me that closes my eyes when I press update on a site. Usually it’s one that has been left to its own devices for longer than anyone would care to admit. 😬 But it still happens even after 8 years of building websites.
Thankfully, there’s a few tricks of the trade that I’m going to share with you that can alleviate some of those fears – or at least bail you out of trouble should the worst happen.
Presenting my 3 must-have WordPress plugins that have saved my bacon on a few occasions. You can find all these plugins in the free WordPress depository when you click “Add New” plugin in your Admin area.
Butt-Saving Plugin #1
Updraft Plus (or any backup plugin really)
Updraft Plus is my backup plugin of choice because it is free to use (there is a pro version for more fun features, but the free version is more than satisfactory for the average user), easy to set up and it works. I have Updraft Plus installed on all my sites and it’s one of the first ones I install on all new builds. Updraft connects to Google Drive, Dropbox, Cloud or other options for a 3rd party, off-site backup of your site. Now, you may be thinking that your host backs up your site as part of your hosting plan and you’d be correct – most do offer this. BUT, what if your host, where your server and website are, goes down? Then you can’t access your site or your backup. I always live on the side of caution when it comes to my website and have more than one backup option on the go. After all, it’s your business livelihood and there were just a few thousand hours and dollars that went into making it as it is… 😉
A backup is a must-have if you need to return your site to its previous version for any reason. It could be a plugin update gone bad, a theme error or simply a big boo boo you made that you can’t undo. Whatever the reason, a backup is a non-negotiable.
Butt-Saving Plugin #2
W3 Total Cache (or any caching plugin)
I’ve used a few caching plugins over the time and I have found that what works for one site, might not work for another. They’re one of those things that can either play nice or be a pain in the butt. Lately I have found W3 Total Cache to be one of the easier ones to set up and one that works with most sites. I build a lot on Divi these days and it works fine with that theme. For clients hosting with SiteGround, I do always choose the SiteGround caching plugin as it works seamlessly with their servers.
A caching plugin helps to optimise your site performance and clear the cache of old files or data. For example, when you update a plugin or remove one, then your cache may need to be cleared to ensure all the data is removed from the cache memory. It can be the difference between seeing a change in your site or thinking the edit you have done is not showing and wondering why. Clearing a cache is as simple as clicking a button in most plugins.
Other notable caching plugins I use or have used:
- WP Fastest Cache
- Hummingbird (this is linked to the hosting platform I use for clients)
- SiteGround SuperCacher (this is the caching plugin on my site that is hosted with SiteGround – it’s their plugin that works with SiteGround hosting)
Butt-Saving Plugin #3
This plugin is a lifesaver by the true meaning. What this plugin does is roll back a plugin to a previous version should an update break your site or cause a conflict. Sometimes a plugin update can cause an error message or conflict with another plugin, or even WP version, on your site. It’s not common thankfully, but when it happens, it can raise the blood pressure a little higher than it should be. By reverting the plugin to the version you knew was working ok, you alleviate the error and continue on as normal. If this does happen, make a note of the plugin and wait until the next update has been released which hopefully has the bug fix in it.
NB: I do make sure I take note of the current version of a plugin before I press update so I know what to revert it to should I need to.
So there you have it, 3 must-have WordPress plugins that will make your life a lot easier and relieve some stresses caused by site updates – especially the ones that don’t quite go as planned.
If website updates are causing you all sorts of angst or you just don’t have time to be playing around with never ending updates, check out my WordPress website management packages which are an affordable peace of mind.