Essential WordPress Plugins

Essential WordPress Plugins

WordPress Plugins

It is no secret that WordPress sites have been under attack for the last few weeks and I hope you are not one of the victims.

In response to this new threat, I installed Wordfence on every site I manage. Maybe I was just blissfully ignorant before, but this new tool has found me watching “real time” as attacks come in. I have allowed myself on occasion to become actually rather bothered about the targeted randomness of this activity.

This is a must-have plugin, if for nothing else than to lock out people trying to login under your hopefully non-existent username “admin”.

Along with Wordfence, I would suggest that you have a nice backup plugin and that it is scheduled to run regularly. (Barring that, please backup regularly from your C-panel.) I personally use Online Backup for WordPress. I confess that I have never set up the online locker. Though included and possibly useful, I have been happy with backing up and downloading or having emailed the zip file to my own computer for safe-keeping.

Another must-have is Akismet. This handy little plugin requires that you obtain a key to make it work. It is well worth the hassle. After that, with a minimum of attention, you will save yourself much time sifting through innocuous comments.

The problem with sifting through innocuous comments is that many seemingly nice comments of the type —

“I compliment you for this great writing. Your content is amazing. I have searched the web for this information and now I am bookmarking your site to follow and six grinder pins before Tuesday. Yours sincerely, Ima Hacker”

— seem to me to be casting for that first comment approval. Then if your settings are in the normal (not paranoid) configuration you will open the door for anything & everything coming from this person. (Most WordPress blogs are set to accept comments from anyone who already has an approved comment.)

I also run WordPress Hash-cash Extended along with Akismet together filtering 99% of all spam. I used to be fascinated by spam. We were small. Times were slow. Who were these people who graced us with their Louie Vuitton handbag websites? Since then, I have learned to take a more pragmatic approach to spam and delete it as soon as I can identify it. These last two plugins do a super job helping me undo the spam stress.

Essential WordPress Plugins

These plugins are the biggies that I use every day. Beyond that, you might want an editor, SEO plugin, broken link checker or any number of other functions. The sky’s the limit at that point. Once you have taken care of back-ups, spam, and website attacks, you are pretty much home free to adapt your blog to your needs, while resting in the knowledge that your site will not fall total victim to cyberspace rambunctiousness.

Image credit: pixelsaway / 123RF Stock Photo

Turn on the Way-Back Machine; WordPress backups

Turn on the Way-Back Machine; WordPress backups

Wordpress backupThe internet can be unpredictable, and it pays to be prepared.

New clients call on me, now and again, to take a look at a problem on their site. Almost 100% of those that I investigate (aside from the problem that initiated my involvement) do not have a WordPress site backup.  Some who think they have back-ups — do not have working backups.

This is where picking a host provider who states that back-ups are provided, can be a very good decision. Sometimes for a small fee, a host will include this service. Either way, that is a very good decision and certainly better than no backup plan.

In addition to my host’s backups, I run them for my own site through the host’s c-panel, and also run WordPress backups through my WordPress Dashboard via a plugin.  Ok, that may be overkill, but you at least want to do the latter. Any backup you create and download off the host server is your property, and a bit of insurance that your content will not be destroyed by cyber gremlins.

I talked about WP-DBmanager in another post and some simple advice for getting an error message to clear.  This plug-in also does some cool database repair and database optimization. The plug-in states that database optimization should be run once a month. (Database optimization can speed up a site considerably, especially if it has been neglected for any length of time).

The backup created by WP-DBmanager resides in a folder on the server where your blog is located. If electronic or physical disaster strikes that server, and you don’t have a copy somewhere else, you will not have a backup….  Be sure to download a copy of the latest backup to the device of your choice (cyber vault, external drive, PC hard-drive, etc.) on a regular schedule.

Even an irregular schedule is better than none ;)

Another cool plug-in — cool because I can get a back-up before I start looking into working on a site — is Online Backup for WordPress.  It appears that you have to have a vault to run the plug-in, but you can configure to just run a manual backup and then download that to your own space, which is some assurance that you are not working on the website without a safety net.

The thing about backup plugins is that they have to be configured. Installing them and thinking you are done, is not going to work. (This is a misconception that I have run across a time or two in my web-fix travels).

More commonly I ask, “Do you have a recent backup?” And the answer is, “I have no idea…”.

If you haven’t addressed the backup question for your website, please make it a priority on your to-do list, — so that if you ever need to call on the Way-Back Machine, it will be extant — and functional :)