WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems out there with a total market share of 58.9%. It’s powerful, flexible, and incredibly user-friendly. With the plethora of themes and plugins out there to choose from, building a WordPress website seems simple enough.
However, as your site continues to grow, managing it can quickly become a difficult task – especially if its foundation isn’t secure. There are a few things website owners need to keep in mind in order to use WordPress safely.
In this post, we’ll walk you through a few easy steps you can take to manage your WordPress website better and use it safely from the get-go. We’ll also recommend some tools along the way to help you get started with a step in the right direction.
Choose A Reputable Hosting Provider
Choosing a hosting provider for your WordPress website is a truly daunting task. There are a number of factors you need to evaluate before you can land on a solution. For starters, you’ll first need to identify which type of hosting you’re looking for – shared, managed, dedicated, or VPS.
Once you have that down, the next step is to define a criterion and evaluate the hosting providers who offer the type of solution you’re looking for. For instance, if you were looking for a shared hosting plan for your WordPress website then a quick Google search will help you identify the top contenders. Here are a few more factors you may want to take into consideration:
- Server reliability. Your web host should ideally be operating on a server that guarantees at least 99.5% uptime. One way to get this information is to scour through hosting reviews. Alternatively, you can also use server monitor tools to track your web host.
- Control panel. A user-friendly hosting control panel is incredibly useful for when you want to make basic server changes or get into your site’s core files to add custom code. Some hosting providers like SiteGround let you tour the hosting control panel before you sign up with them.
- Hosting prices can be quite tricky to wrap your head around. Most shared hosting plans offer low sign up rates but charge you more on renewals. Be sure to read the pricing information thoroughly before committing to a hosting plan.
Next, you can see how they rank against the criterion you’ve defined. For instance, if customer support is important to you then you can start off by checking out how many support channels the hosting provider offers.
You may also want to read through a few hosting reviews on high-authority websites to get a better idea of their service and the features they offer. Good hosting solutions take care of the basics for you such as site security and fast page load times, they offer services like regular scans and backups, and are scalable for when you want to take your website to the next level.
Download Themes And Plugins From Well-Known Sources
The core WordPress software is relatively secure right out of the box and the developers behind the scenes roll out regular updates for it. However, as you continue to add themes, plugins, and custom code snippets to it, it becomes less and less secure. This can happen because of many reasons. For instance, a theme wasn’t compatible with the latest version of WordPress. Or perhaps the plugin you installed had a security leak.
For this reason, it’s important to download themes and plugins that are (at the very least) compatible with the latest version of WordPress. Thankfully, WordPress has its own Theme and Plugin Directories which are excellent places to look for free themes and plugins. There are a few things you should keep in mind when evaluating a free theme or plugin:
- The first thing you should check to see is whether the theme or plugin is compatible with the latest version of WordPress.
- Active installs. If a theme or plugin has many active installs (over a few thousand) then chances are that it works well.
- Last updated. It’s important to make sure the theme or plugin you’re installing is receiving regular updates from its developers. As a general rule, you should install themes or plugins that haven’t been updated in the past two years.
- Ratings and reviews. The theme or plugin’s ratings can give you a good idea of what users thought of it. It’s best to steer clear of plugins that have more one or two-star ratings than four or five-star ones.
Implement Common Security Measures
Even though WordPress releases regular security updates, you can never be too safe. And if you’re anything like me you’ll want to make sure that you have every possible security strategy implemented on your WordPress website well-ahead of time. Here are some common security measures you should consider taking:
- Keeping your WordPress website, themes, and plugins up-to-date. Always make sure your core WordPress installation, themes, and plugins are updated. Whenever an update is available, you’ll receive a notification on your site’s dashboard. You can also configure your website to automatically update the core software, themes, and plugins by enabling automatic updates.
- Take regular backups of your website. While it’s entirely possible to take manual backups of your entire WordPress website, we recommend that you opt for automated, scheduled backups All you have to do is install a backup plugin and configure it to take daily (or weekly) backup of your website.
- Delete the themes and plugins you’re not using. Many times users deactivate themes and plugins and leave them on their websites. This makes it easier for hackers and bots to gain entry into your website using backdoor exploits. If you’re not using a theme or plugin, be sure to delete it from your website.
- Setup strong username and password combinations. By default, WordPress assigns you the username admin. And if you don’t remember to change it to something else, hackers will have a pretty easy time trying to break into your site since they already know half of the login credentials. It’s also a good idea to create a strong, random password or use a password generator to help you out.
- Limit login attempts on WordPress. Limiting automated login attempts on your site’s login page is a sure-fire way to minimize brute force attacks. We recommend using the WP Limit Login Attempts plugin to get the job done.
- Create a child theme. If you like to add custom code to your WordPress themes then it’s a good idea to create child themes for them. This allows you to safely modify the existing code without risking losing the customizations when the theme is updated.
Pre-emptively tackling potential security issues is a great way to minimize the threat of a hacking attempt.
As a savvy WordPress user you should always adhere to the industry’s best practices when it comes to using your website safely. This makes your website secure for both your team and your site’s visitors.
Let’s quickly recap the main points we covered:
- Choose a reputable hosting provider.
- Download themes and plugins from reputable sources.
- Implement common security measures to minimize any potential hacking attempts.
Do you have any questions about using WordPress safely? We’d love to hear from you so let us know by commenting below!