Spring is nearly here and along with it flowers, sunshine and …

Spring cleaning, a time when we channel our inner Marie Kondo, purge all of our unneeded items and give everything else a bit of TLC. Much like your home, your WordPress website could likely benefit from a little spring cleaning.  Does your site keep telling you it’s time to update, do you have an untold number of annoying notifications waiting for you when you log in to make a post or update content? Have you been avoiding adding content because you just can’t deal with all of those updates? Well, you’re not alone.  Thankfully by following a few simple steps, you can take your WordPress admin from out of date and overwhelming to fresh, clean and inviting.

This is the first of a three-part series on how to Backup, Update and Optimize your WordPress website. In this article, we will be going through the steps to set up a backup plugin on your site and perform a backup. As well we will be updating all of your WordPress core files, Plugins and Themes. In part 2 we will be  running a security audity on your site. In the last of our 3 articles, we will be optimizing your site’s database and reviewing your content and on page SEO.

Back it up

Before we start anything the first step of our Spring Cleaning process should be to take a backup of our site. Think of this as our “before” picture. By taking a backup we can ensure that if anything goes wrong during the process we can always go back to our backup. There are a number of ways that a backup can be performed however we are going to focus on the automated methods that are available using WordPress plugins. One of the best free plugins for this purpose is UpdraftPlus. This plugin allows you to make one-off backups and store them on your server or remote storage and also has the option to schedule regular backups.

Setup UpdraftPlus

  1. Navigate to the Plugins area of your WordPress install and click “Add New”. Here you will find a search field where you can search for plugins.
  2. Enter the “UpdraftPlus” into the search box and it will appear in the list of plugins below.
  3. Click the Install now button
  4. Click the Activate button
  5. Next, you will be prompted by Updraft to set up the plugin. Click the “Press here to start!” button
  6. Click through the prompts to learn about all of the features of Updraft.
  7. Feel free to set up whatever backup schedule or file storage that you would like to use in the future. For now, though we are going to proceed with a simple one time backup on the server.
  8. Click the backup/restore tab
  9. Click the backup now button
  10. This will prompt a popup with some backup options. Click the “Backup Now” button in the popup.
  11. You will now see the progress of your site backup
  12. Once the backup is complete it should be listed under your Existing Backups.

WordPress core update

  1. Navigate to Dashboard/Updates
  2. The first set of updates we will do (if they are needed) is a WordPress core update. Do this by clicking the “Update Now” button.  This will start the WordPress update process. Once the process is complete click on the link to take you back to the WordPress updates page.

Plugin updates

  1. Click the check box next to the words “Select All”
  2. Next click the “Update Plugins” button
  3. Click on the link to navigate back to the WordPress updates page

Theme updates

  1. Click the check box next to the words “Select All”
  2. Next, click the “Update Themes” button

Now that you’re all up to date you can move on to part 2 where we will be updating all of your WordPress core files, Plugins and Themes. In part 3 we will be optimizing your WordPress database and content so that you can put your best face forward this spring.