Providing technical services to my clients has given me a great look into the not-so-tech-savvy way things work. Lucky for me, technology has always come easy. I’m able to find ways to explain it to my clients, so they understand at a minimum, the basics of keeping your website up and running, which is a win for everyone!
There are three website mistakes that I see people do (or not do) that could be the difference between having a functioning site or constantly having unprepared issues.
To avoid website shutdown or the white screen of death (eek!) try these three simple things you should have in place to keep your website healthy:
1. Know Your Access Details
I’ve gotten my share of frantic calls from clients being locked out of their site because they did not set up the account and don’t have the information they need to log in. Or, worse yet, they simply didn’t understand the service, so they left it in the hands of someone else, without getting all of the details they needed at the end of the project.
So how is one supposed to be prepared and get control of your accounts?
Problem: You can't access your hosting account, domain account or WordPress dashboard because your web designer set up the accounts without sharing the details with you.
Solution: Contact your designer and ask for the account information. You can use a spreadsheet, password journal or an app like LastPass to keep the information safe for the following three key pieces.
What you’ll need:
a. Hosting Account – login information for your account and cPanel. Make a note of your IP address and name servers. Your host can help you gather this information.
b. Domain Register – login information to review your account information. Be sure that the registered domain is in your name with WhoIs.
c. WordPress Dashboard – login information. To keep things safe I create two user accounts: admin and editor. I do this, so my admin account always stays safe and non-published.
2. Have Backup Access with FTP (File Transfer Protocol)
Sometimes when your WordPress site goes down, it's because of a conflict or glitch on your particular site. But what happens when the entire WordPress site is down, and you can’t even access your account to fix things? Use FTP (File Transfer Protocol), which is a program that allows you to connect to your hosting account and files for your website.
Disclaimer: Let me say that you can do ALOT of damage if you get into your files and delete or move the wrong one. But it is important that you have the FTP information to access your account in the event of errors or white screens. Just tread carefully!
Problem: You cannot log into your WordPress dashboard because a plugin is corrupt or worse, a hacker got into your files.
Solution: Having FTP access will allow a web developer or problem solver to access your account through your hosting account back-end. FTP access allows a direct connection to the hosting files, so even if you cannot log into your WordPress site, your developer can get to the information to solve the issues. Phew!
What you’ll need:
Hosting FTP Access – create an account that is not the main FTP account. Be sure that it links to your access public folder. Your host can help you set this up. There are key parts: the FTP address (ftp.yoursite.com), the user account (this will look like an email address) and the password. Make sure you have all three parts for successful FTP Access!
3. Move Your Backup Off Your Server
Let’s start with the assumption that you are regularly backing up your website. Score one for you! The million dollar question is, are you moving your site to an off-server area like Dropbox or Amazon S3?
Backing up your files and leaving them on the server is like not backing up at all. If your files are on the server, and the server gets corrupt, or your host server goes down, you have no recourse other than to start fresh.
Problem: Your site server goes down, and you have to move your site, but your backup files are on the corrupt server, as well.
Solution: After you make your backup files, send them offsite to a cloud storage system like Dropbox. Also, you could use a service like VaultPress that will backup and send them to a secure area.
What you’ll need:
A Backup program that will send your files to a cloud area or offsite. Set up your backup program to automatically create the backup and then send it off. If you’re having someone do this service for you, be sure you have access to the where the files are sent to so you can get to the files anytime you may have an emergency.
Having control over these three areas will give you the extra protection you need to keep your site safe and functioning with no issues. If you’re having trouble gathering the information or don’t know where to start, schedule a Tech Talk with me today, and we’ll get you all set up so you can take this off your task list!