Website maintenance

Website maintenance

Website maintenance is essential

Maintaining your website is like your car. If you don’t, one day it will stop.

Website maintenance should not be expensive.

Websites built by us are free of maintenance costs for the first year.

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What is website maintenance?

Website maintenance is about:

  1. Updating core software of the system
  2. Updating Plugins & modules
  3. Updating Content

The first one – core software of the system – is straight forward. If your website is developed in Content Management Systems like WordPress, Joomla or Drupal there will be regular updates from the development teams.

These updates MUST be installed to keep the system stable and secure.

WordPress, Joomla and Drupal are developed with programming languages like PHP and Java plus a database called MySQL. Your hosting provider will keep those up to date BUT when there are major updates, the hosting provider will let you the choice whether to update or not. Generally, they inform you about those major updates.

The reason for this is that those major updates can break your website if the aforementioned software (WordPress, Joomla or Drupal) or the plugins are not updated accordingly. Everything must stay in sync.

Last but not least, your content. Yes, your content can be outdated like for example referring to links that no longer exist.

Website maintenance should not be expensive

There can be a number of reasons why you are charged by your website developer with a fee to maintain your website.

In fact, you should really be worried when your website is already a few years old and nobody has ever bothered to check if everything is still up to date!

Website maintenance for a website built by us is free for the first year. After the first year you can either do it yourself or choose between two price plans for website maintenance:

  1. Regular maintenance at R900 per annum for a 3 month check where we will maintain the regular and critical software updates;
  2. Extra maintenance at R1,500 per annum where we can spend three (3) hours of changes / updates on your website, at your choice.

If your website is developed by someone else you should trust that the website was built properly and that it runs smooth without problems. From that point on we have a simple rule of thumb:

  • General software updates should be applied at least 4 times per year, bare minimum, preferrably more frequent;
  • Critical software updates within 48 hours.

To make this annual fee relative, a reasonable yearly cost of ownership for a WordPress site is around $740.

General versus critical updates

Software used to build websites like WordPress, Joomla and Drupal are developed under Open Source license what basically means that the code they use is open and accessible for everyone. This is good news because thousands of developers will look at the code and a lot of them will try to hack the code. This makes Open Source Software so reliable.

Updates are distributed monthly. Most of the time those are minor bug fixing but if there is a critical update to patch a vulnerability, this must be updated within 48 hours if you don’t want to be exposed to hackers.

There are two types of hackers, “White Hat” and “Black Hat”. White Hat like to make the world of internet a better place and Black Hat like to take advantage of the opportunity.

White hat finds something and informs the developer who gets 24 hours to fix it. Developer fixes and distributes a (critical) update while giving the white hat the credits. You can guess how the black hat works?

Now here is where we – or the one who is currently responsible for your webite – come in. We are subscribed to a number of newsletters or websites where those critical updates are pushed into the news. Another way for a website developer is to have all the plugins used for clients running active on their own website and make use of security scanners.

Not updating or maintaining your website will make your website vulnerable for attacked and even worse, hacks. Hackers use bots (software scripts that scan your website) to find out if the vulnerabilities are patched. If not, they attack because they know where is flaw is.

Read WordPress Security Patches: How to Prepare For Them (2020)

So, what if?

Website maintenance was not your first priority and your website is hacked? Well, first you have to find someone to stop the hack, then you have to find and remove the hack and third you have to remove the damage done on the the internet.

This all requires various skills and experience. The last time I was asked to undo a hack, most of the work was in removing the damage from the internet. There were about 20,000 (illegal) links from this website that were linked to various other websites.

Without doubt the most important here is to have backups. Your hosting provider probably has tools to back up your website on a regular basis. Mostly rolling (incremental) backups going back 7 days. No, this will not work if you discover the hack more than a week later embarassed

Therefore we make backups of our clients websites every time something has been updated or before we start applying major updates.

Sometimes websites contain highly valuable data that hackers want to get their hands on. There are other times when websites are simply appealing because they can be used as a vessel through which hackers can harm other websites and users.

Have a look at the real time numbers globally at internetlivestats.com

Conclusion

Website maintenance is a MUST. In the worst case your website will be hacked or simply it won’t work anymore and your valuable content might be gone or your website has become a hub distributing all kinds of illegal links.

Updating the software used to build your website is essential. There are constant updates available to improve security and performance of your website.

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