8 WordPress Spring Cleaning Tips: Backups and More

This weekend will be the official start of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Part of the start of Spring is spring cleaning – the time to clear out the Winter cobwebs, wash the windows, and get the house in order. But don’t worry, I’m not going to deviate from my standard topics and discuss cleaning. I am, however, going to show you how you can use the start of Spring as a time to do some WordPress spring cleaning.

Because, really, what’s more fun than backups and cleaning out your files?

  1. Backup Your WordPress Database – you can use the WP DB-Backup plugin, back it up via cpanel, or ask your webhost about the best way to back up your data. If you lose your WordPress database, you’ve lost your site.
  2. Remove Plugins – remove any plugins that you are no longer using. Don’t just deactivate them but also completely delete them. You can do this via ftp or your cpanel file manager. Any plugin, even if it isn’t being used, can be a security risk, if it is poorly coded, and can slow down your site.
  3. Backup Your WordPress Files – backup your WordPress files, config file, themes, plugins, etc. This is separate from the database. These files are not *as* important as the database but if you’ve customized your theme it would be distressing to lost all of that work. You can backup via ftp or the cpanel file manager. You can also backup themes, plugins and uploads with the WordPress backup plugin but this does not backup the core files.
  4. Upgrade WordPress – upgrade WordPress to the current version. 2.7 is awesome and you’ll be avoiding potential security risks. I’m not a fan of any auto-upgrades, so here are my instructions for upgrading WordPress manually.
  5. Remove Post Revisions – you can old ones manually with Stratos’ instructions, or remove old ones with the Delete Revisions plugin found by David Bradley. Let’s keep our WordPress database as light as we can.
  6. Examine Your Sidebar – take a hard look at your sidebar. Do you really need all that bling? If you have a lot of images, ads, and flashy things on your sidebar it is slowing your site down.
  7. Examine Old Posts – go through your older posts and see if you can add links to newer ones. I have to admit that I am not good about this. I usually remember to link to my older posts but rarely go back the other way. This adds value to your visitors and has got to be useful from a SEO perspective.
  8. Validate Your Code – this is for the especially industrious. The W3C has a tool where you can test your code for errors. It lists all of them and then you can have the pleasure of tracking them down and fixing them. I am lax on this one and have it on my current spring cleaning list because I know I currently have 27 errors.
  9. Your Turn – Do you have anything to add to the WordPress spring cleaning list? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

As an aside, this is my 200th post!!

photo credit: Steve took it

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  1. says

    Happy 200th post anniversary!

    These are great tips. I can’t think of anything else in regards to WordPress, but I know that I need to have a little image spring cleaning on my server. There’s a lot of icons that I am no longer using, and there’s no sense in those hogging up my space.

    ~ Kristi

    Kikolani´s last blog post – How to Keep Your RSS Subscribers

  2. says

    Hi Kim – After I almost lost my blog in January – I definitely need to do the backing up thing. And I have so many plugins that I no longer use.

    Another thing I try to do when I get time is to rewrite some of my really old posts – or if they totally suck, I delete them completely. The latter is probably not the best way to go but rewriting can be so time consuming.

    Cath Lawson´s last blog post – What Your Customers Really Want

    • says

      Hi Cath – The database backup plugin is really useful. I have it email
      me a backup everyday and then filter it to the trash in gmail. I never empty the trash so I always have 30 days of backups.

  3. says

    Helpful tips. I will be going throught my photos too deleting some that aren’t necessary. That especially applies to the thumbnails that go with the new posts appearing on the front page on my site. After they’re replaced on the front, those images just take up room.

    Gennaro´s last blog post – 9 Top Cities, 9 Top Irish Pubs

  4. says

    This goes under number 2 but I might add: sure you delete the Hello Dolly plugin. I actually do this when I setup a blog. Of course, I’m also paranoid thinking that there’s a bunch of malicious hackers waiting out there to penetrate your system through the Hello Dolly plugin. I did mention I was paranoid….

    But seriously, I would add: security checkup. Have you been putting off all those hacks people say you need to implement for a more secure WP? Spring Clean says: do it now!

    Yael K. Miller´s last blog post – MillerMosaicLLC: Us creative types spend a lot of time thinking. What’s really what you’re paying for: our thoughts. Designers: agree? disagree?

  5. says

    Hi Kim,
    This is an awesome list of practical technical and maintenance tips. It’s also a good idea to take a look at the plugins panel for available updates (and if updates are available read the change log before automatically updating).

    Congratulations on your 200th post :P I will reach that mark in another two weeks…right now at 193!


    Ajith Edassery´s last blog post – Interesting facts about Internet Usage, Search and related Businesses

    • says

      Hi Ajith – Reading the plugin change log is a great idea. I also like
      to keep a backup of the one I am currently using in case I have issues
      with the new one.

      Stratos just hit his 200th post as well!

  6. says

    Kim, you know I thought I took my site down last week! I was not sure I had a backup but it turned out to be a small error I caused in my hosting account…lol scaary…

    I was playing with A Joomla install (for another site) and almost overwrote doozieUp. All of my content could have been lost. Close call, but great info about the backing up stuff

    Michael Anderson | emdoozie´s last blog post – Turn off the News and Live your Life

    • says

      Hi Michael – Thank goodness that worked out for the best. Always have a backup before doing anything as big as a Joomla install.

      Did you like Joomla?

  7. says

    “Validate Your Code” – I believe this is important but it is quite hard to follow the error reports, I tried quite hard to make it valid but failed, I hope some one can guide me to a website which gives more detailed error reports for code validation.

  8. says

    Re tip #7 about adding newer site links to older posts, that’s partly taken care of by any related posts plugin, but going back to old posts and fixing outdated information is definitely worth looking at. Pick five very old posts, give them a spring clean and then link to them from a new post explaining you upgraded some older material, repeat weekly (or monthly, or whatever).

  9. says

    This is precisely why I subscribe to your blog, Kim – so many excellent tips that you’d think should be common sense, yet I fail to do miserably at times. :)

    Cheers – off to C-panel now,

    Danny Brown´s last blog post – What’s In A Name?

    • says

      Hi Danny – Thanks! Well we are all so busy working and trying to
      write our articles that it’s hard to make time for basic maintenance – plus it’s kind of boring. Have fun in cpanel.

  10. says

    Sidebar cleanup is the number one thing for me. I still struggle with how much “bling” is appropriate.

    I actually change it about every six weeks – I add, I delete, I re-arrange.

    Great stuff here, Kim. I enjoy all of the WP tips and such you’ve been putting here.



    Tumblemoose´s last blog post – Ebooks: charge or give away

  11. says

    Very good list, Kim! I want to try the WP Database Backup plugin again… when I tried it once, the backup file didn’t work. With my new configuration, it may work this time. I love your idea of having it emailed automatically every day, it makes the backup process so much easier.

    I do have several unused plugins, carefully selected as the ones I intend to use “in the near future”, keeping them there as a reminder for what’s next. Now, I will take a look at them again.

    I also like your advice #7, about creating internal links in older posts, I hadn’t thought of that!

    Palma | Buddha Trance´s last blog post – Artificial intelligence and consciousness

    • says

      Hi Palma – The backup plugin might work now … I’ve worked on a couple of sites where it didn’t work but no scheduled events did.

      #7 is not an original idea but I can’t remember where I read it to give the proper credit – it might have been Ajith and I should go search his site to see if I can find the info.

  12. says

    I remember doing that little edit of the config.php file from one of your old post that was supposed to stop all those revision files but I must have done something wrong, again, as I’ve just noticed that they they’re still occurring. Reckon I may have to revisit that post.

    Sire´s last blog post – Thesis Theme Is Just Not Flexible Enough


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