One of the most important things to do on your website is keep backups, regardless if it is a blog or static site. Websites, especially blogs, are run on programs and code that are mixed and mingled and are not guaranteed. For those of you running on blogging platforms, your content is often changing, plus the system is likely being updated for new features and security. Not all upgrades go smoothly, so if you don’t make regularly scheduled backups, please backup your files and database before doing any upgrades, just in case.
If you are running an HTML site, you can simply back up all your files using a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) client. We suggest FileZilla Client. If you have a blog or any other website that connects to a database, you will want to make sure to backup the files along with the database, and you most likely will need to do these in two steps. If you are running a blog, particularly a WordPress blog, you can install plugins that will help you make backups.
Our favorite WordPress backup plugin is WP-DB-Backup by Austin Matzko. You can go to the plugins tab, click new plugin, type in “wp db backup” and install the one by Austin Matzko. Feel free to review the other plugins and decide if there is a better plugin for your needs. This plugin suited us best, because we can create a backup file anytime just by going to the plugin settings page, as well as schedule backups to be emailed to us on a regular basis. If you have a busy blog, you can schedule one everyday, but for the less busy sites, you can schedule a weekly backup by email. This is great for when something happens unexpectedly, and you want to go from the most recent backup, rather than one you created 6 months ago. These backup plugins will usually allow you to import a backup file if something is to fail to repair it.
If you are not running on a platform that you can use plugins for backups, look into creating a cron job (a scheduled task). You can find more information about cron jobs by going to your hosting provider and searching their support pages. Here is a how-to cron job site we found helpful.
WordPress Upgrade and Plugin Troubleshooting (White Screen in WordPress)
When upgrading your system or any of your plugins, if you get the WordPress white screen of death, try turning off all your plugins first before reverting to a backup. You can do this by logging into your FTP client, finding your plugins folder and renaming it to “plugins.bak” (for those of you on WordPress, the plugins folder is inside the wp-content folder). Renaming this folder will automatically disable all of your plugins, but it keeps your content and settings in-tact. Once the folder is renamed, refresh your admin panel (you hopefully will have a message telling you that all of your plugins are missing), if you get your dashboard back with the plugins missing error, then you have a problem with one of your plugins. If not, go to this very helpful WordPress FAQ for more troubleshooting. If the plugins folder is not your problem, you can try the same thing with your themes folder as themes may sometimes cause errors, especially if they do not work with newer versions of WordPress. You can also try to revert back to a backup database and files if everything else fails.
If disabling the plugins did bring your site back, change the folder back to “plugins,” refresh, and start turning on your plugins one by one so you can make note of the one that causes you problems to either choose to not use that plugin or troubleshoot it.
As always if you need further consultation on this, you can always contact us.