Website Maintenance {Discussion}

With all the recent difficulty bloggers who use Blogger have had with comments (note: if you aren’t aware of the solution, be sure to check out Leanne from Devoted Quilter’s Comment Problem Fix), I have to admit that I was feeling a bit lucky to be using a self-hosted WordPress site. You know, until karma fixed that and my website was unavailable for about 6 hours on Saturday.

So, I figured it was a good time to have a chat about the realities, ups and downs, and the behind the scenes website maintenance that it takes to be a blogger and keep things running smoothly.

If you were not aware of the Blogger comment issue, I can summarize it by saying that users who blog using Blogger as their platform were not receiving email notifications when someone left a comment on their websites. There were workarounds to help receive notifications, but the workarounds did not allow for the website owner to know the email address of the person leaving a comment, which in turn made it difficult to have a conversation which is really the best part about being a blogger!

One of my very favorite aspects about blogging are the connections that are made, and the best way to connect is through leaving a comment. I really find joy in receiving emails letting me know that someone has taken the time to leave a comment on my website and it is always a pleasure to reply to that email. I never know when a comment or my response might spark a new idea, friendship, or conversation that I will treasure.

I am so thankful to hear that my blogging friends who use Blogger have a solution and can get back into their normal blogging, commenting, and emailing rhythms. I also have a few other discussion posts dedicated to Blog Comment Etiquette and Cultivating Community if you want further exploration into this topic.

Which brings me around to the issue that caused my website to be unavailable for about 6 hours on Saturday: my SSL certificate for quiltingjetgirl.com expired. Having an SSL certificate is what it takes to create a secure website (https:// instead of http://) and many browsers will block websites that are not secure. If you want to know more, the article What is SSL? was helpful for me.

As I mentioned earlier, I have a self-hosted WordPress site. My website is hosted by SiteGround [affiliate link], and I have always had really great technical support from them. After taking about 15 minutes to figure out what was causing my problem, I was able to quickly renew my SSL certificate and then I tried to figure out why this hadn’t happened to me before and what I could do to prevent it from happening again.

SiteGround (and many/most website hosting companies) use Let’s Encrypt to create SSL certificates, and Let’s Encrypt automatically renews SSL certificates… until recently when there was a bug that kept the auto-renew feature from working. Oops! So, if you have a self-hosted website, you might want to double check who provides your SSL certificate. If, like me, you get your SSL certificate through Let’s Encrypt, you might need to auto update manually once while the issue is being resolved.

Occasionally big behind the scenes things come up, like email notifications stopping or your website becoming “unsecure”, that can be frustrating and scary. Thankfully those moments are few and far between, and when I have had problems with my website, I have been fortunate to be able to find help and answers by searching the internet. On Saturday, after a bit of research and reading about why websites are labeled “unsecure”, I knew to go look for Let’s Encrypt in my Control Panel on SiteGround.

Here are a few really good habits that you can create to help in the event that something goes wrong with your website:

  1. Back up your website. Each hosting provider does it differently, but regularly backing up your website is a really good idea. Whether your site gets hacked (which happened to Quilt Theory earlier this year!) or you get locked out because you cannot remember your password or your hosting provider has big problems, knowing that you have your content safely backed up can create a lot of peace of mind.
  2. Back up your computer. This really goes hand in hand with backing up your website.
  3. Take a deep breath and look it up! It used to be that the library was where I would go do look for answers, but now all I have to do is open a new tab in my browser and start searching the internet.
  4. Phone/email/text/message a friend. Posting for help in social media circles with your blogging friends can usually turn up help or at least get you on a path toward getting the help you need.
  5. Utilize the help channels of your blogging platform. Whether that is searching the knowledge base articles or chatting with a support team, most blogging platforms have quite a bit of information available. I like to keep in mind that the person I am chatting with did not cause my problem, and if I can remain calm and friendly with them it always helps me resolve my issue in a more timely manner. I say this as someone who used to work in technical support and as someone who has seen how my frustration does not help me get things resolved. That means sometimes it will take longer before I ask for help because I need to get up and go for a walk and calm down a bit first.
  6. Pay a professional. Occasionally getting the help of a web developer is what it takes to get everything back on the straight and narrow. As much as I like to do it all myself, there are some topics that I don’t really fully understand and paying someone who has the expertise to quickly resolve my issue is definitely worth the alleviation of my time and frustration.

Do you have any website maintenance tips to share? What are the best practices that you like to use to keep everything running smoothly?

20 thoughts on “Website Maintenance {Discussion}

  1. gsyanne63 says:

    Thank goodness you managed to find the solution, I love reading your blog in the morning before I head out for the day. Don’t always have time to thank you but I appreciate everything you do
    Quilty hugs Anne xxx

  2. kaholly says:

    Appreciate the time you took to organize your thoughts and post such sage advice!

  3. Tech issues can be the worst! I’ve certainly spent hours searching Google for IT solutions – thank goodness so many people are willing to share their knowledge. I actually enjoy the IT side of things, and I’ve learned so much over the years. But when it breaks and you haven’t a clue how to fix it, it can be super daunting. Congrats on figuring out your SSL Certificate issue. The good news is, we learn from these mistakes and mishaps and end up expanding our knowledge along the way!!

  4. You are so right about website maintenance. I landed with siteground, too, when I switched to WordPress and used a professional to help me through the conversion. But, it does take so much time, unless you approach it rationally – examine, diagnose (if not get someone else), correct – when we’d rather be quilting. My tips really are similar to yours – know your limitations and get help when needed. I am stubborn and like to figure it out, so I have to reign in that impulse and move it along but asking!

  5. Rochelle says:

    Although I don’t blog and don’t have a website, I really appreciate the information. And the tip about keeping calm and remembering the person trying to help you didn’t create the problem is excellent. It is easy to get mired down in the “blame game” instead of the “let’s fix it and move on” path. Thanks for the information.

  6. Brenda Ackerman says:

    Hello Yvonne; Please remember my brain problem if my comment comes out at all in a wrong way. I did and did not understand what you were writing about and that is why it really does scare me and stops me in my tracks from starting my blog up again. I just do not have any clue about all of these new fangled technical procedures. Yet, I do love the fact that you share these problems and solutions with your readers. I just know that this post alone is going to help a whole lot of bloggers. Thank you for always sharing what you know and what you think may be of help to others. I know I appreciate it a lot! Have a great day!

  7. Oh lucky you! I wish this could solve my tech issues. I’m still unable to access my WordPress Admin which means besides viewing my site like a regular visitor, there is absolutely nothing else I can do :(. Thanks for all your helpful tips and tutorials.

  8. Elizabeth E. says:

    Great post–thanks for these tips! That last advice–get professional help–is so true. Luckily my son is my web guru, if he’s not too busy.

  9. Your last photo reminds me of when I helped my Dad fix water pipes on the farm. I would hold one wrench on one side, he would be on the other. And I can see the paddock so well!! Web problems, a good reminder to do a back up more regularly.

  10. Sarah@123quilt says:

    I caught the brief version of this on your IG stories and I’m glad I hopped over to your blog to read the full post. It was very informative and I appreciate the reminder to back things up!

  11. Patty says:

    All great tips! Glad your site go back up and running so quickly.

  12. helen says:

    I generally pull my hair out, then turn the computer off in a bad mood. A couple of days later most problems have usually righted themselves. But then I know nothing about nothing.

  13. Audrey says:

    I had heard mumblings of the blogger comment problem, but I hadn’t heard of the solution! So thanks for including that–hopefully that’s fixed. 🙂 I’m glad everything is up and running again for you.

  14. aquilterstable says:

    The blogger situation does indeed seem to be fixed – thank goodness! And I send the tip about backing up your blog AND your computer and not assuming (ahem) someone else in the household is doing that!
    I’m saving your post to review again once we get home from a few days away….good things to pay attention to!

  15. Thank you! This post is very timely for me as I have just employed expert help to switch my wordpress.com site to a WordPress site. This is all way over my head but I decided wordpress.com is causing me too many frustrations and limitations (I have found the help line useful in the past and managed to keep cool 😉 even when some questions weren’t completely resolved).My fear with making this switch is that my lack of tech knowledge will mean I don’t ask all the right questions. After reading your post I know to check the SSL status of my new site 🙂

  16. Great post, Yvonne. Technology is wonderful, when it works, right? Thanks for sharing the fix for the comment notification problem. The more people who see it, the better! I have often considered moving from blogger to either wordpress or squarespace, but I have stayed where I am (so far) because I’m intimidated by all the tech stuff I’d have to figure out to make the switch and then maintain the new site. I’ve come a long way since starting my blog, but there’s still so much I don’t understand 🙂

  17. Liz says:

    My niece takes care of our website for the shop, maintenance and all of that… I can find my way around to change things and modify things as we grow our business, but she takes care of the design aspects and the paperwork aspects of it. I’m so glad after seeing your post!

  18. Technology never frightens me, but the time to fiddle about with it is as rare as hens’ teeth these days, and I would rather be sewing.

  19. I also use self-hosted WordPress but I am fortunate to have my son as my tech guru. He backs up the site to a server and keeps all the maintenance and such under control. Otherwise, it would be really frustrating. We depend on technology and it allows us to do some really cool stuff but certainly can be a frustration at times.

  20. cheriec12 says:

    Hi Yvonne,
    I have not been blogging long and do not yet pay to be self hosted. At this point I’m not real sure of the benefits in my case. As I continue to improve my technology understanding I’m hoping this will all come together. I’m sure at some point I will need the additional features. I’m glad to know that WordPress is working good for you since that is where I’m at also.

I really appreciate the time and thought you take to comment, and I look forward to conversing with you. :)