Every few months I get invited / asked to have a look at an existing WordPress site with a view to me taking over WordPress support. Often they need WordPress rescue.

Typically someone has setup a site a few years ago and after a while the original developer is lost to the process and the site owners coast along for a time oblivious to the fact that a modern database driven website needs to be actively managed.

WordPress now powers a huge number of websites and so has become a bigger target for the various malcontents and scripted bots out there. The WordPress community and Automattic does a great job of keeping everything up to date but once a site has been setup it often loses visibility to all but the tech community.

In recent months I’ve rescued a few WordPress sites all of which needed updates, upgrades and security hardening as well as moving to better hosting environments for the most part.

Back before content management systems (CMS) many websites were “set and forget”. They had static code and for the most part could be left for 3 or more years at a time with relatively little change.

A CMS like WordPress has a database, core software that changes regularly and often a family of plugins that also need updating every month or so. As the overall code has got more complex the WordPress themes often need updates as well.

Since December 2014 there have been 3 core version changes to the WordPress code. Besides that there have been many (14) smaller security and feature driven changes at each of these levels. See image below which shows 14 smaller changes between 4.1 and 4.3.


Each of those changes generally improves the security and overall performance of the website. If those websites are upgraded. The interim changes can be upgraded automatically if your host provider allows that. Thankfully that takes some of the update pain away but often there are related changes to plugins and themes which need to be looked into by a developer – before some of these upgrades take place.

Plugin and theme conflicts are less of a risk than they were a few years ago but they do happen.

If your WordPress site has been running unattended for a few months / years then there is likely to be some remedial work needed. You may not need a full rescue but I do come across hosting companies who don’t care / don’t know what they are doing.

A typical checklist for a WordPress site goes as follows:

  • Update core WordPress files
  • Update plugins
  • Update active theme
  • Harden security settings
  • Check backup settings and other “housekeeping”

Not necessarily in that order. For obvious reasons there will be backups made at the start of the process. Often I /we will need to install a working copy of your site on a test server to check that everything will work once upgraded and that allows for testing of any fixes or changes on a non-production setup.

If a site needs to be moved from one host to another there will be background tasks such as domain management. Possibly email settings and so on.

If you have a neglected WordPress site that needs some attention and/or rescue please don’t hesitate to contact us we would be happy to help out.

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