All our lives, we’re prepped for various types of emergencies. In the Midwest, we’re taught how to protect ourselves during a tornado (hide under a door frame/your desk/in a ditch), the west coast prepares themselves for earthquakes, the East coast preps for a Tom Brady disaster (just kidding, kind of). But we’re taught these things so that when disaster strikes, our minds and bodies can go into autopilot.
I’ve dealt with enough website emergencies to know that having a hacked or broken site can be just as disastrous, especially if it involves our livelihood and hard work. So here are a few tips on how to prepare for said situation, that way you can save yourself a major freak out.
1. Have all of your passwords ready. 100% of the times I’ve dealt with a down site, I’ve had to log into the client’s hosting site to fix the issue. If you’re unsure of what your hosting site is, common hosting sites are GoDaddy, Dreamhost, Siteground, Green Geeks, etc. Access to these sites is crucial because the large majority of fixes involve editing the files that make your site function, and all of those files are available through your hosting site.
Information to have handy:
- Your WordPress site login
- The name of your hosting site
- The phone number for your hosting site
- The username/password for your hosting site
** If you don’t know your password for your hosting site, you can call the hosting company support and they’ll ask for some information that will give you access, such as the credit card number associated with your account.
2. Have a backup of your site ready. I’ve spoken about why it’s important, and how to do it. It’s free, easy to automate, and in most cases, will save your butt. Having the backup saved in a place other than your WordPress Dashboard is highly recommended as well. That way, if you are unable to login, you can still access the files.
3. Know how to check your site’s Error Log. If you’re feeling DIY and want to see what the issue is, you can log in to your hosting site, navigate to your site files (typically in a CPanel), and find the Error Log. Most hosting sites should have this. It will give a time stamp of when the issue occurred, as well as a description of what caused your site to break, and the files that are broken. Sometimes it may be clear what the issue is, and sometimes it’s a bit harder to decipher. But this is a good starting point to see what happened – you can try to find context clues like references to plugins, file names, etc.
Extra credit: Take note of what changes you make when you make them. Did you update a plugin? This can sometimes break a website if an updated plugin overrides some customization, or doesn’t work well with another plugin. Maybe you saved a setting and everything went to sh*t. It happens. As much detail as you can remember, the more it will help discover and fix the issue.
Follow these steps, and you’ll be prepared to get your site back up if it ever goes down or gets hacked. This not only helps you fix the issue yourself, but it better prepares your tech support person so they can start fixing the problem right away.
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