Valuable Advice: Best Practices for Web Maintenance
Most web site developers, SEO companies and tech support services are not good at explaining how web sites work to the novice. Complicating matters, most small business owners don't want to worry about the small technical details of their web sites. They just want them to work and not have to be concerned with it. So, at Dog Star Media, we start all web site conversations with our Best Practices for Web Site Maintenance and Support. It's rarely discussed, but we make it a priority.
The Valuable Advice: Understand how web sites work so your expectations are set properly. Web sites are like software and computers; upgrades that affect performance happen all the time. If you just let your web site sit without certain maintenance, it will break down. Know how it all works, so you can secure the best maintenance program. That way you really don't have to keep up with it.
Here is the document we send clients who want us to maintain or host their web site:
Web Maintenance Best Practices
The most frequent cause of web site malfunctions comes from neglect. Here is a layman's explanation of basic technical functions about your site:
Your web site, the modules that present the content and create function on your web site and your server software are all software. Software is frequently updated by its developer for efficiency, to overcome bugs and for security reasons to name the most common reasons.
Your hosting account places your web site on a server, which is the hardware involved.Most hosting services, although they have adequate redundancies to keep your site live, will only guarantee 99% up time, as it is remotely possible something can break. Just be aware, although rare, problems can occur at the hosting/hardware level.
Order of Operations on Regular Maintenance
Your web site is built with a current version of Joomla or WordPress. This is your content management software (CMS).Your web site contains modules that present content and give your site function, so modules work within the framework of the Joomla software. All of this sits on a server, which presents the site to the world.
Server software is frequently updated, sometimes several times a month with minor upgrades to improve performance and security. When the server is updated, it may require an update to the Joomla software to avoid issues. This in turn may require an update to the module software to avoid issues. Joomla and the modules will issue updates on their own as well. The important thing to know is that it is best to keep all three levels of software updated.
When updating, the best practice is to make sure there is a recent site back up first. Then, it is best to update module software, followed by Joomla software, followed by server software. Sometimes the server is already updated, and you just have to keep the Joomla and module software updated.Beginning July 1, 2020 all Dog Star Media-build web sites for current clients will run automated scheduled back-ups, which will reside in your Joomla software.
Update Frequency and Break/Fix
Update your Joomla and module software every few weeks or once a month and generally you will avoid a large majority of possible problems. If your server software begins to outpace your other software or if your modules are never updated and begin to fail, these issues are usually corrected in a break/fix approach.
Delete Automated Back-Ups
Dog Star Media recommends maintaining no more than three backed-up versions of your web site.It is recommended to delete the oldest back-up monthly to avoid building up excessive server storage for unnecessary copies of the site.
Your hosting, your domain name and your SSL certificate (security for form submission) can be billed at different intervals.If this is billed to your credit card, you will receive notices when those bills are due, when charges don't process and when credit cards expire. The most common reasons that web sites go down is that either the client does not pay the bill for hosting or domain renewal.This is most commonly because the credit card expired and was not updated with the host or registration service.
Understand these basic operations and make sure all are assigned to keep your site updated. Dog Star Media's new Hosting/Web Tech Maintenance program accounts for all these best practices.
If you have questions about managing your web site, please contact us here.