5 Common Mistakes When Backing Up WordPress

As a leading Content Management System for managing websites and especially for writing blogs, WordPress makes it extremely easy to back up your valuable content from the database and site files. There are a number of tools you can use that make life easy on website owners and bloggers, but don’t let the simplicity of backing up WordPress leave you with an inadequate back up plan. In fact, there are plenty of back up tools out there that don’t get the job done well enough. Here are five back up mistakes to avoid:

Only Backing up Your Posts

Your website has a lot more going on than just the posts on your blog. While losing your posts would be catastrophic, don’t forget that a true back up will include your pages, theme modifications, and WordPress plugins. These elements of your website make it functional, and losing them will be a major setback for your time.

A tool like Backup Buddy is designed to store all of your site’s information and to restore it all at once should any kind of loss occur. This means you won’t lose page views, advertising revenue, or potential customers when your site goes down. It will be up and running in no time.

Not Backing Up Frequently

If you only backup your website on a weekly basis, but you average about one post per day, you could cause yourself some major headaches if your blog goes down and you lose several blog posts. That means any inbound links, comments, or social media shares to those posts will land on your 404 page. While this may be a temporary setback, you will plant a seed of doubt in the minds of potential visitors about the quality and reliability of your website.

Relying on Manual Backups

There are plenty of online storage options from Amazon’s Cloud Drive to Dropbox, but managing the website backup process on your own is difficult to maintain for the long haul and can take up valuable time. Even if you’ve figured out a quick way to back up your website, it’s one more thing on your to do list that could be easily automated.

Backing Up Your Blog on Your Computer

If a hacker can access your website, there’s a good chance he may have already gotten into your computer and other files as well (For more about further protection from hackers, look at the services Passbook hast to offer). In addition, there’s no telling if the files on your computer have been corrupted with a virus when it’s time to restore your site. You could very well be uploading files with the same problems that took your site down in the first place. While you can use a service like Filezilla to back up your site on your own computer, it’s far safer to rely on an online backup site.

Never Testing Your Backups

A backup of your website is a safety net that will catch you when the worst case scenario happens on your website. However, what good is a safety net if it has a hole in it? By testing your backed up files, you’ll learn whether your website backup plan is adequate to meet your needs in a website emergency situation. Make sure you have the files you need in a format that you can easily access and restore to your site.

Your website has information that is far too valuable to leave your back up files in a state of uncertainty. If you don’t know about the security, scope, and viability of your website backups, it’s time to look into a reliable, automated WordPress back up option or to carefully test which back up plugin is right for you.

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  • Improving Performance of Your WordPress Site

    In today’s world, many people make use of WordPress for hosting a successful and useful site. However, depending on WordPress is just the beginning. You need to build a site that will actually work for readers or you will not keep those readers for very long. One of the mistakes that many people make is creating a site that has low or poor performance. This happens simply because they are making wrong choices when they build their site. Have you noticed that your own WordPress site seems to be slow to load, frustrating, and just plain hard to use? If so, then you need to go through a few steps to improve the performance of it.

    Limit the Plugins

    It may be your first reaction to choose a wide variety of plugins to a site simply because they can be useful, eye catching, and fun. However, as with anything else, too much of a good thing can be bad. When you use too many plugins, then you can actually slow your site down to the point that it can be slow loading and difficult to load. In order to improve the performance of your WordPress site, be sure that you are limiting your plugins on each of the pages. Some of the plugin options that can be major culprits in a slow site would include the following:

    • Heavy JavaScript features
    • Requiring HTML to resize images instead of resizing them by hand
    • Placing JavaScript in the site header

    Choose the Right Theme

    One of the best ways to build a WordPress site that is high performing, fast loading, and easy to use is to choose from Premium WordPress templates that are designed to be streamlined. These themes are designed specifically for both performance and attractiveness of the site. Choose a theme that will help you limit the chances for performance busting features from the very beginning.

    Use Google

    Google offers a content delivery network that can work with the JQuery library. This means that if users find your site through Google, their computer will most likely already have that JQuery information on their computer. This leads to a faster loading site. If you want your site to be high performance, then choose to use JQuery that comes from the Google content library.

    WordPress is a very handy tool for website creation when you use it wisely. By taking the right steps and avoiding the right things, then you will be able to build a site that is higher in performance.

    This article was provided by Olga Ionel, a writer at ThemeFuse.com, who is a leader in the Premium WordPress templates industry. Olga is fond of sharing SEO and blogging ideas.

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  • The Pros and Cons of Managed WordPress Hosting

    Have you considered Managed WordPress hosting? Managed WordPress hosting is becoming an increasingly popular option among many professional WordPress bloggers and top webmasters these days as these services will often take care of all the technical aspects of WordPress for you, allowing you to focus on creating and sharing great content. As an added bonus, these companies will also typically answer your technical questions, make sure your WordPress content loads quickly, and install your WordPress theme and plugin updates.  Examples of popular managed WordPress hosting companies include WPEngine, ZippyKid, Page.ly, and Synthesis. These top companies provide similar services and features but all offer a few extras to try to seperate them from the pack.

    So, is a managed WordPress hosting service for you? Deciding whether or not to sign up for one of these services will likely come down to your personal needs.  If your website/blog attracts a lot of traffic and you use WordPress frequently, managed hosting could be an attractive option. On the other hand, if you’re just a casual blogger who just wants the basics from WordPress, managed hosting might be an unnecessary expense. Before you start paying for this type of hosting, it’s good to keep in mind that companies like ZippyKid and Synthesis can make your life as a WordPress user easier, but they’re not perfect solutions for everyone.

    Here are some of the pros and cons of managed WordPress Hosting:

    Pros

    1. Your site and content will load faster. People are a lot more likely to leave your site or spend less time on it if it loads slowly.
    2. You’ll have someone to turn to when technical issues arise. Trying to call one of the big hosting giants like HostGator or GoDaddy when you’re having WordPress problems won’t get you anywhere. The tech support people at big hosting companies don’t know anything about WordPress. You’re paying managed WordPress hosting companies to know the ins and outs of the popular content management system. So, you get the kind of support you need from companies like WPEngine and ZippyKid.
    3. Your content and confidential information will be more secure. Managed WordPress hosting means you don’t have to worry as much about malware, vulnerabilities, and other security issues. It also means that your data is backed up regularly to ensure you don’t lose any of it, even if something crashes or a security issue arises.
    4. You don’t have to spend as much time learning about WordPress. Many WordPress users spend hundreds of hours every year researching WordPress how-to guides and taking free WordPress classes to become better at using the content management system. Since managed WordPress companies take care of all the technical stuff, you don’t have to waste any of your precious time learning how to install a new theme or get a new plugin to work.

    Cons

    1. Managed WordPress hosting is costly. It generally ranges in price from about $30 a month to a few hundred dollars a month, depending on how many WordPress installs you need managed. If you’re a perpetually broke college student who blogs for fun, managed WordPress hosting probably isn’t for you.
    2. You have less control. If someone else is managing all the technical aspects of your WordPress accounts, you don’t decide what gets updated and changed to improve efficiency. Someone else does. If you like to be in control, managed WordPress hosting might not be the best fit.
    3. You have to pay extra when one of your posts goes viral. Most basic managed WordPress hosting packages, the ones that cost you around $30 a month, only allow a certain number of visitors to your site each month before they charge you extra. Usually the number of visitors allowed is around 25,000. If 1.3 million visitors check out your site one month, you have to fork over quite a bit of extra money to the hosting company. You could avoid this by paying for a more expensive package that allows more visitors per month, but that would just end up costing you more too.

    Overall, if you can justify the price of managed WordPress hosting, there’s definitely good reason to look into it, especially if you want to make your life as a WordPress user simpler.

    This article was contributed by Katheryn Rivas, who frequently researches and writes about a variety of topics, yet her main interests include education and the validation of accredited online universities.

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  • Should My WordPress Site Use a Related Posts Plugin?

    Related Posts Plugins are an amazing way to keep a visitor engaged on your site. By doing some magic on the backend of a site, they can make tailored post suggestions according to the content on-page. Tailored recommendations will boost average time on site, average page views, and the like. Related posts are also awesome ways to add advertisements to a site.

    Unfortunately, related posts plugins can also destroy a site’s performance, or bring it down entirely.

    Many related posts plugins work by creating a “FULLTEXT index” on the “posts” table in MySQL. This is a mechanism to make complex queries against the content of posts.  For example, “posts which contain A and B but not C or D.” Usually, this means indexing categories, tags, specific keywords, and a number of other data points and querying them later.

    It’s a cool way to search, but MySQL wasn’t built to make queries like this.

    In MySQL, FULLTEXT indexes consume high loads of resources at run-time, particularly for larger sites with proportionally large databases.  Under heavy traffic loads, this will slow the entire site down, or crash it entirely.

    To make matters worse, when changes are made to (large) tables with FULLTEXT indexes, rebuilding that index can take hours and hours. Sometimes rebuilding will even fail, producing a corrupted MySQL table. This can happen when you do something like upgrade to the latest version of WordPress.

    Now, I don’t want to be too hard on related posts plugins. They will work if your site isn’t getting a ton of traffic. However, many aren’t good practice if you’re building a site to scale. We’ve actually disallowed them at WP Engine because we don’t want to unnecessarily slow sites down.

    That was a lot of bad news. Here’s the good news!

    There are TWO PLUGINS that achieve “related posts” functionality, but do it off-server, so that you don’t bog down MySQL.

    Take a look at nrelate’s and LinkWithin’s “related posts” plugins. These do their calculations on their own servers and don’t cause the same issues with the databases.

    Nrelate has 3 different plugins based on whether you want your most popular content or related content to display, as well as if you want the related post to “fly out” at the reader.  All three are available in the WordPress plugin repository.  LinkWithin will make recommendations to related posts based on several factors, including title, tags, and content.

    How they work

    Nrelate creates its own, secure, RSS feed, and feeds your content directly their servers. This means their pinghost is added to your Update Services. So each time you update your blog with new content, nrelate gets the feed and can analyze it for related posts. Then, they use Natural Language Processing inside a database designed for search to analyze your content and make related recommendations.

    LinkWithin similarly analyzes your content off-server. They have a context engine that looks at categories, tags, keywords, and a few other aspects of your content in order to make recommendations. LinkWithin used to redirect traffic through their site, but no longer. You get all the SEO juice from the links.

    Both plugins accomplish the related posts functionality off-server. I’m personally a big fan of nrelate’s strategy of using the RSS feed to get the content and then processing it with NLP.  I was also able to speak on the phone with both developers from nrelate in the writing of the article, which indicates the support they’re providing their plugin.

    Security

    LinkWithin has secure processes to pull your content, and there are zero known security issues with their plugin.

    When I spoke with nReleate, they talked about how their RSS feed can only be accessed with a random key that is generated when you install the plugin.  They hired Mark Jaquith to build this part of the plugin with airtight security.

    Image options

    With nRelate, you can either show your content as one of six sizes of thumbnails, or as very simple bullets. The plugin automatically creates a thumbnail from the featured image, but you can also specify which image to use.  If you don’t have any images on your post, nrelate will actually pull one from their image library.  You can see examples of their ads on Huffington Post and Endgadget.

    LinkWithin relies heavily on featured images from your page in order to provide thumbnails.  If you don’t set featured images, the plugin won’t show any.  It also provides very customized sizing of images that are optimized for your site.

    Advertising

    You can add your advertising networks to nRelate (they have their own ad network) and serve your ads along with the recommended content. Linkwithin does not currently support advertising.

    Styling

    Your css is automatically adopted by nRelate, so the thumbnails and font styling will automatically look like your design, but you can still customize things as you like.

    International Languages

    Nrelate is also in the following languages: Dutch, English, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish.

    Check out both of those plugins to see which one works for your needs. Both of them offer significant speed and scalability benefits to your site.

    Are you using a related post plugin for your site?  How has it affected your traffic?  Have you noticed any performance issues?

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  • 7 Benefits of Blogging with WordPress

    One of the most popular blogging platforms out there is WordPress — and for good reason. WordPress offers a flexible platform that is easy to use. You can get started blogging with a few minutes, and be well on your way to blogging success.

    If you are trying to figure out which blogging platform is right for you, here are 7 benefits to blogging with WordPress:

    1. It’s Cost-Efficient

    One of the great things about WordPress is how cost-efficient it is. You can start blogging for free. WordPress is a free, open source platform that allows you to reach your audience free of charge. Additionally, there are paid upgrades that you can use to increase the attractiveness and customizability of your blog. However, even the paid features of WordPress are reasonably priced, meaning that you can get a high quality platform without paying a premium price.

    2. Integrate with Your Website

    WordPress is also easy to integrate with your website. WordPress is compatible with a number of control panels, and you can add a blog to almost any site with the help of WordPress. Blogging with WordPress is easy to start, and it’s easy to ensure that your blog is fully integrated with your brand and your website.

    [Continue Reading...]

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  • Jetpack: Supercharge Your Self Hosted WordPress Site!

    Ever notice how many features the standard installation of WordPress lacks? YouTube embedding, stats, and even a specialized Twitter widget? Well, if you have a self hosted blog at WordPress.com, these features are all given to you. In fact, many of these features are forced upon you by the sponsoring company, Automattic. Wanna learn how to get all of that “cloud-power” for your WordPress site?

    If you are one of the people who would love to have these features at your disposal and already has a WordPress.com account, keep reading. Otherwise, you’re losing out on a great plugin for self-hosted WordPress sites!

    Keep reading to find out more

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  • Best WordPress Widgets For Your Blog

    Today I’m going to share with you the best WordPress widgets that I would recommend for each and every WordPress blogger. I personally use a few widgets on my blog to help my visitors easily browse all of my blog posts. A nice WordPress blog would have proper utilization of widgets, plugins and footer and header bars.

    When I started blogging I had lots of widgets in my blog’s sidebar and never really bothered worrying about the performance of the blog. All I wanted was to make my blog look cool. But one fine day lightning struck me and I decided to delete most of the WordPress plugins and widgets which were not necessary to my blog and were intense on bandwidth and resources. Having lot of plugins and widgets on my blog resulted in too much bandwidth consumption and made my blog sluggish, bringing down my site’s overall performance. So keep in mind, too much of something can be as detrimental as too little. A slow website or blog can equal unhappy visitors and a low score for your site’s search engine ranking. A smaller number of widgets means less content visible on your blog to the visitors, ultimately leading to a high bounce rate and/or low page views.  The solution is to find a way to balance the two.

    Do not confuse yourselves with widgets and plugins though. WordPress plugins are easy to install and activate which helps you to improve your blog’s functionality. Plugins can include widgets as well. Widgets on the other hand are visible and interactive to your visitors. Usually these widgets are shown in the sidebar, but are not limited to only the sidebar. Fortunately there are many themes available now with widgetized footer and header space.

    [Continue Reading...]

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  • Separating Trackbacks from Comments in WordPress 2.7+

    Back when WordPress 2.7 was released, the WordPress team introduced a completely revamped comment form that included integration of threaded comments into the core software, introducing some dramatic changes with how comments are handled.   Unfortunately, this change broke one of the most popular comment hacks, separating trackbacks from comments.

    Since then, several people have stepped up and shared some great hacks for separating trackbacks from comment in WordPress 2.7 or newer blogs .  So far the best guide I’ve found came from Sivel.net, which can be viewed here.  Click over and follow those steps get everything separated.

    Note: The above guide is only for people using WordPress 2.7 or newer installations.  For people using WordPress 2.6 or earlier, you’ll want to use this tutorial.

    Once you’ve got the comments successfully separated from the trackbacks, there are a couple additional tweaks you may want to do to clean up how things look (it really depends on preference I suppose).   The first is to clean up your trackbacks/pingbacks by only displaying the title instead of an excerpt and everything else.   In order to do this, you’ll need to find the following code in your comments.php file:

    <ol>
    <?php wp_list_comments('type=pings'); ?>

    Now replace that code with the following:

    <ol>
    <?php wp_list_comments('type=pings&callback=list_pings'); ?>

    Lastly, you’ll need to add the following code to your functions.php file (which can be created if you don’t already have one):

    <?php
    function list_pings($comment, $args, $depth) {
    $GLOBALS['comment'] = $comment;
    ?>
    <li id="comment-<?php comment_ID(); ?>"><?php comment_author_link(); ?>
    <?php } ?>

    That should clean up the trackbacks/pingbacks section and you can also apply the same changes if you use a plugin to display tweetbacks.

    The other thing you may want to do is fix the comment count to only show actual comments, filtering out the trackbacks/pingbacks which are included in your comment count by default.   Simply add the following code to your functions.php file (which again can be created if you don’t already have one):

    <?php
    add_filter('get_comments_number', 'comment_count', 0);
    function comment_count( $count ) {
    if ( ! is_admin() ) {
    global $id;
    $comments_by_type = &separate_comments(get_comments('status=approve&post_id=' . $id));
    return count($comments_by_type['comment']);
    } else {
    return $count;
    }
    }
    ?>

    So there you go.  Anyone have any other tips for cleaning up your comment form?

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  • Upcoming WordCamp Events

    Since missing out on the WordCamp Chicago event that took place a few months ago, I’ve been keeping an eye on upcoming WordCamp events in the hopes that one will happen here in the Midwest again.

    If you’ve been considering going to one of these events, today I noticed a post from the official WordPress site listing the upcoming WordCamps, which can be viewed here.  For your reference, here are the events they list:

    • WordCamp New Zealand: Wellington, New Zealand, August 8-9, 2009
    • WordCamp Huntsville: Huntsville, Alabama, USA, August 15–16, 2009
    • WordCamp Los Angeles: Los Angeles, California, USA, September 12, 2009
    • WordCamp Philippines: Makati City, Philippines, September 19, 2009
    • WordCamp Portland: Portland, Oregon, USA, September 19-20, 2009
    • WordCamp Seattle: Seattle, Washington, USA, September 26, 2009
    • WordCamp Birmingham: Birmingham, Alabama, USA, September 26-27, 2009
    • WordCamp Netherlands: Utrecht, Netherlands, October 31, 2009
    • WordCamp NYC: New York, New York, USA, November 14-15, 2009
    • WordCamp Mexico: Mexico City, Mexico, November 20, 2009

    It is good to see so many international WordCamps happening, as well as a few here in the United States.   If you are able to attend one of these events, I think most past WordCamp attendees would definitely recommend it.  I definitely am planning on attending the next one that takes place here in the Midwest.

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  • An Early Look at WP.com?

    Back in April 2009, we wrote about Automattic purchasing WP.com. At the time there was a lot of speculation about what the role of this incredible new domain would be.  It has now been a few months since they took over possession and it looks like we finally have some hints about what the role of this domain may be.

    As of the publishing of this post, it looks like WP.com still redirects to WordPress.com, but if you visit their Get WordPress subdomain, you can see the following splash page promoting their hosted service, as well as a quick comparison to WordPress.org:

    get-wp

    It will be interesting to see what they decide to do with the root of the domain.   I can’t help but wonder if it would be a good idea to move WordPress.com to a shorter domain like WP.com, giving their bloggers a smaller URL for their hosted blogs. In the age of Twitter it would be nice to have a domain like xxxx.wp.com instead of xxxx.wordpress.com.

    What would you like to see WP.com ultimately used for?

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