Your Regular WordPress Maintenance Checklist

By Adrian Try

This article is part of a series created in partnership with SiteGround. Thank you for supporting the partners who make SitePoint possible.

Brush your teeth. Pick up your socks. Make your bed. Wash the dishes. Life is full of lots of little jobs that aren’t particularly fun to do, but things get ugly if you don’t. Maintaining a website is just the same.

Here’s a collection of WordPress maintenance checklists for you. Do them regularly, and your site will be speedy and secure. Neglect them, and bad things may happen:

  • Your site may load as slow as treacle.
  • Important functionality might break into a hundred pieces.
  • Your visitors’ computers may be infected with malware.
  • Your site may be be delisted from search engines.

So keep on top of your maintenance. Do it regularly, and it won’t take long.

Everyone’s site is different, and your maintenance priorities will be different too. I’ve given you daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly/half-yearly and yearly lists. Feel free to adjust them to your needs. And rather than doing the big quarterly list in one sitting, you may prefer to tick two or three items each month.

Finally, if you have trouble getting motivated to do your WordPress housekeeping, try a plugin like Maintenance Checklist to streamline things.

That’s enough talk. Now get to work!

Your Daily Maintenance Checklist

  1. Uptime. Visit your site to make sure it is working. If uptime is crucial, you can enable SMS notifications from monitoring services like Uptime Robot, WordPress Monitoring Plugin or Super Monitoring.
  2. Backup. Perform a daily offsite backup of the WordPress files and database. Automate this with a plugin like BackUpWordPress, Backup to Dropbox or BackupBuddy. Some hosting providers like SiteGround perform backups for you. Do your own in addition to this.
  3. Daily security report. Use a website security monitoring service (like Securi) to email you a daily status report, and send an SMS when something suspicious occurs. Check the reports daily, and act immediately when necessary.

Your Weekly Maintenance Checklist

  1. Comment moderation. Approve any comments in your moderation queue, and check your spam list for false positives. If you get a lot of comments, you should do this daily.
  2. Updates. Update WordPress along with your plugins and themes if new versions are available. Some hosting providers like SiteGround can do this for you automatically.
  3. Malware scan. Scan for any infected files or malware. Use a plugin like Sucuri Security, Bulletproof Security or Wordfence.

Your Monthly Maintenance Checklist

  1. Visual inspection. Visually inspect your website and check for problems with layout or formatting. Do this with different web browsers, including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari and Chrome. View your website from a mobile device to make sure it looks good and is responsive.
  2. Verify backups. Make sure that your backup files are going where they are meant to, and performing a restore. You don’t want to discover that your backup strategy is broken on the day you need it most!
  3. Analytics. Log into Google Analytics and review trends, referrals and page-flow. Consider how to use this information to increase traffic to your site.

Your Quarterly/Half-Yearly Maintenance Checklist

  1. Change passwords. Change your password, and have other users change theirs too. Don’t make it easy for hackers—use a strong password.
  2. Minimize admin users. Delete or downgrade unnecessary admin users (and delete the default admin username). Hacked admin accounts can do the most damage to your site, so minimize the number.
  3. Delete unused plugins and themes. Deactivate and delete all unnecessary plugins and themes, though never remove the latest default WordPress theme. Unnecessary plugins increase your website’s overhead and the risk of vulnerabilities.
  4. Delete unnecessary files Website clutter can hide vulnerabilities. Check for unnecessary files in your wp-content folder and browse through your Media Library to remove any images, videos and audio files you no longer require. You can use a plugin like Delete Not Used Image or Media Cleaner to automatically remove unreferenced images. Perform a backup before deleting anything!
  5. Fix dead links. You don’t want your visitors receiving a “Page Not Found” error when clicking on a link. Find any dead links by using a link checking tool like Broken Link Checker or Link Checker.
  6. Veryify your contact form. Send yourself a message using your website’s contact form, and make sure you get it.
  7. Optmimize your database. Delete any draft posts you’ll never finish, and empty your comment spam. Then optimize your database by running a plugin like WP-Optimize, Optimize Database after Deleting Revisions or WP-DBManager.
  8. Speed audit. Use Pingdom or Google PageSpeed Insights to see how fast your site loads. If it takes more than five seconds, consider implementing caching and other measures to speed up your site. Slow sites lose visitors and search rankings.

Your Yearly Maintenance Checklist

  1. Review your About page. Check your About page for anything that needs to be updated: your contact details, profile picture, mission statement, testimonials.
  2. Review your theme and plugins. Check for new plugins that outperform those you’re currently using. Check for new themes that appeal to you and are suitable for your needs.
  3. Review your site. Sit down with an impartial friend and let them explore your website. A fresh pair of eyes may find issues that you’ve overlooked. Update the copyright date in your website footer.
  4. Webmaster tools. Log into Google Webmaster Tools and resolve any error messages.

For awesome WordPress hosting, we recommend SiteGround. SiteGround takes care of many WordPress maintenance tasks for you, including automated core and plugin updates, daily backups, and SSL certificates for free in every plan.

  • Gerard0

    Hi Adrian, what’s your recommendation on verifying backups, restore them on top of the site, restore on a test/dev site, nor this nor that???

    Great list BTW.

  • Checking Webmaster messages only once a year? I’d move that up to weekly or quarterly.

    • Hi Alexander, you might be right. I think of these yearly items as a website review. If you update your site more than once a year (a new theme, new plugins, or something major), it should be reviewed more regularly as part of the redesign process. I think of yearly as a minimum requirement. If your website is fairly static, a yearly review will prompt you to update anything that is out of date or no longer meets your needs. With Webmaster messages, probably the best practice is to to set up email notifications so you can deal with issues as they arise.

  • Great list. Thanks for sharing!

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