249 – ‘U’ is for Undo

‘A-Z of WordPress’ with Nathan Wrigley and David Waumsley

Hello, it’s another A-Z of WordPress. The series where we attempt to cover all the major aspects of building and maintaining sites with WordPress. Today is for U  for Undo…


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This is about common WordPress mistakes and how to get out of a pickle if things go wrong. With all the plugins, themes and community work in WordPress, it’s often surprising that any of it hangs together, and that WordPress websites even work at all… (even more so since the Gutenberg Project says David!). Yet, despite that, neither of us have really had any issues over the years. How can this be?

There’s certainly plenty of scope for things to go wrong on your WordPress website, and to go wrong badly, and that’s the subject of the podcast today. What can go wrong and how might you recover…

The stuff that goes wrong

Here’s some articles to kick us off. They explain some of the things that often go wrong with WordPress websites and how things might be fixed:


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It boils down to this list, which we discuss in the podcast:

Good practice

Here’s some good ideas for preventing you needing to ever have to undo in the first place:

Cool Stuff

https://wpreset.com/ – a plugin which allows you to just start all over again!

Longer term issue prevention

  • Doing due diligence on plugins and authors
  • Backups on a 3rd party server
  • Backups on your local machine
  • Not over doing it with (heavy) plugins

So there you have it. A list of things that you never want to experience. What a great podcast! If you agree, or disagree, reach out in the comments below or in the WP Builds Facebook Group.

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Transcript (if available)

These transcripts are created using software, so apologies if there are errors in them.

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[00:00:00] Welcome. So the WP Builds podcast, bringing you the latest news from the WordPress community. Welcome your hosts, david Waumsley, and Nathan Wrigley.

[00:00:21] Hello there and welcome to the WP Builds podcast. It's a pleasure to have you back. This is episode number 249. Entitled you is for undo. It was published on Thursday, the 30th of September, 2020. My name's Nathan Wrigley and I'll be joined in just a few moments by my good friend, David Wamsley, so that we can chat about a WordPress specific topic in this case on doing our mistakes.

[00:00:48] But before that's just one little bit of housekeeping. The page builder summit is coming around again. It's version 3.0, meaning it's the third version of the summit. If you can. The first two or either of the first two summits, I'm sure you'll agree. They were absolutely exceptional events. And so we decided to run it, gain the dates this year.

[00:01:08] It's running from the 18th of October, 2021 all the way through to the 22nd of October. So that's five days. We've got a load of speakers lines. And it's going to be a really nice event. There's not just speakers. There's also things to take part in our Facebook group and bingo games. We're doing a bit of coworking and all of that nice stuff as well.

[00:01:29] And the best way that you're going to sign up for all of that is to head over to page builder, summit.com and sign up with your email address. That's all we ask just for your email address. And then we will let you know, as, and when the event rolls around that's page builder, something. Dot com go there and fill out the form and click the little button to subscribe and we'll get back to you.

[00:01:51] Honestly, it's going to be a really good event. I would recommend scrolling on that page and having a look and seeing who the speakers. Speaking of the page builder summit. If you're interested in sponsoring that event, please reach out to me. [email protected] and I will hook you up with information about sponsoring.

[00:02:09] It's going to be a really nice event. Lots of WordPress specific people hanging out for a full week, and it may very well be that your company, product or service could benefit from being associated with this lovely. Okay. That's all I've got to say this week. And so let's move on to talking about this week's episode.

[00:02:29] It's called a U is for undo, and we're doing our regular eight as out of WordPress. We're getting quite close to the end. We're on the letter. U. And we decided to go for undo. This is an episode where we try to figure out all of the things that can go wrong, which we wish never happened, which we wish we could undo.

[00:02:47] And there's absolutely boatloads more than you might expect. Lots of problems. It's the kind of episode you the content you really don't want to hear because you don't want to know about these things, but important to know when things go wrong, how you might be able to fix them. I hope that you, in.

[00:03:03] Hello, it's another eight as at a WordPress, the series where we attempt to cover all the major aspects of building and maintain insights with WordPress today, it's you for do this is such an obvious one because we don't have any kind of real on doingness really. It feels like a computer term, doesn't it, or a word document term or something like that.

[00:03:24] But there's loads, you came up with a boatload of stuff in our show notes for this. So let's get stuff. Yeah, we're just really, I guess we're just talking about the kind of mistakes and pickles that we can get into and how we can get out of those, the common mistakes, things we learned, some stuff just took in earlier.

[00:03:45] Didn't we, some things that we thought were our common practices were not needed and yeah, a few little misconceptions along the way, but obviously if you've been working for WordPress for any length of time, you will know that a lot can go. And so it's all about figuring out ways to undo the things that have gone wrong.

[00:04:05] So it's not about preventing things from going wrong. It's just about backing out. Once things have already gone. Exactly that there's quite a lot of articles around on stuff. Quite scary once, like the top 50 things that can go wrong with WordPress, just the top 15, that kind of stuff. Anyway, let's start with kind of this.

[00:04:26] So the good thing is most of, I guess our audience and we are Pagebuilder users. So these days we do at least have an undo there don't we, most of the time we can use you just press control and. Or if you're on a Mac, you press command don't you. And and you can go back to your last revision in your page builder, which I think is lovely.

[00:04:48] Yes. I'm very familiar with this key stroke and I use it all the time and actually it's pretty ubiquitous. There's very few things that I now use where that isn't the way to invoke the previous step. I'm using a Mac, so it's command set and you can just keep doing it, at some point, maybe.

[00:05:08] The revision history runs out. And in a page builder, I guess it runs out to the last time you actually confirmed that you wanted things to be published. Yeah. Yeah. No, I find it really useful. I think most of them have got it now in the poppy. Some things for us to go to elementary is not what I use, but I think they were the first dog of my boy who puts it in.

[00:05:28] And I think, um, now everybody's got it and it's great. I think it's funny enough, I did, I didn't used to have a problem when it wasn't there now suddenly, as soon as I know. Yeah, I get sloppy. I would basically click disregard. So the safe process in BeaverBuilder there's one, there's an option to just back out at that point.

[00:05:50] So I would be clicking, save and publish, and then reenter the page builder quite frequent. Yeah, even a few modifications would, I would then go and publish it right away. Whereas I do that far less now that the undo option is there because I know that I can just do to a certain point and it just, it works.

[00:06:09] It works perfectly as far as I'm aware. Yeah. It's likely that undo is just made me sloppy. That's all that's happened. I know it's this good point, but it's amazing that it is there. And obviously if you have. Using a page builder. You may not know that function exists. I imagine whatever page builder is the one that you have as your page builder of choice, that's probably an option probably it's command or controls that.

[00:06:37] Yeah. And I think the stuff that goes wrong, certainly again, I've got page builder groups of beaver builder group, and the, the thing that must come up the most has to be changes. Not showing that we say, published, it's not there, blah, blah, blah. It's nearly always a caching issue of some kind.

[00:06:55] Yes. Oh boy. Yeah. Yeah. This is, I think this is probably the single biggest thing that can be annoying with a page builder is that simply the caching seems to get in the way and the things that you assumed would save perfectly because they should, they. I know. And it's just, I think the worst thing now from people who are new or where they're, I think browser Cashin chips them up the most.

[00:07:23] So again, control F usually sorts out or just, if you're really uncertain going into incognito or private mode sorts that out. And it usually that's enough, isn't it? Yeah. But we were just talking weren't we about, there is something which I don't think many people know, and they don't how effective it is.

[00:07:42] If you're say using the Chrome browser, I'm not sure it's true with others. If you go into inspect and go to network, there's a little checkbox for disabled cash, which I try and leave on when I'm doing work. Yeah. I didn't even know it was there to be perfectly honest. You had to show me where it was.

[00:07:59] Yeah. I, I don't know how effective it is. Cause I still on certain sites get the same browser cashing issues. It's kind I almost don't think about it now. So I'm regularly on the kind of control and they're five, just to make sure that what I'm seeing, but it does extend beyond that.

[00:08:17] Doesn't it? It goes into the whole, if somebody comes with that issue you end up trying to isolate whether they might have something on their server. That's doing some caching that they don't know about. Uh, we've got varnish and things like that. Occupy, working on servers and then we've got CDNs are another issue when people don't even know that they've got a CDN on their host in, and the problem about all of this stuff is it's all impenetrable.

[00:08:46] And you know, you might be having to log in some third party platform like CloudFlare or something in order to purchase cash over there. And suddenly it doesn't feel like your website is under your control anymore. So this. Really, really frustrating. Yeah. CloudFlare had that rocket mode, which is, I think quite dangerous for most page builders.

[00:09:10] It just it's a really ultra Cashin that they certainly can't use it with BeaverBuilder. I know that much, yeah. Yep. But yeah, that's probably got a bit the one that comes up the most one that I, the next one that I've put down here, you said it's never been an issue for you and that's losing styling when you change in your theme or whether you do we'll talk about that later, whether you decide to realize that you need to add in a child theme that you've forgotten about before.

[00:09:39] Yeah, I think this is more because I don't often change the theme than maybe if I was changing theme frequently and often this would be something that's occurring to me, but I well understand how this could be the case, but you've had this a lot. Cause I thought you were a kind of beaver builder theme user over the last period.

[00:09:58] But I know you went from Genesis at some point. So presumably things had to move over at that point and styles got changed and fonts. Yeah. I've had to do a couple of times. It's so rebuild on that one. I think really what I was trying to probably get out is often when you're you're just changing kind of doozy the child to the add in the child theme in, and then you lose everything.

[00:10:21] So you've set everything up on the parent child. It's put that in the database you put in a child, it's considered. As a new entry, isn't there a new theme changeover, and then you suddenly break things immediately with that one, but there is a nice plug-in, which kind of helps with that one. This probably will go in the future of WordPress that the full site editing comes in book.

[00:10:43] There's a customizer export import plugin, which will allow you to save those settings, which isn't there by default in WordPress. So have you used that. Yeah. Yeah. And it's been a sort of panacea for that problem. Yeah. It's often I started things and I don't, these days to start a site is usually what I start with and that's got the child theme with all of my stuff in it, but yeah, a few times I've done that.

[00:11:11] Oh, nice. Yeah. Nice. But I think that's a common one for people starting up anyway. Just the fact that they don't know that there's a child theme is needed. It. It's I think it's a difficult thing to communicate that someone may need that kind of not, it's not intuitive. That one is it because you go to the theme repository or download your theme and, oh, there it is.

[00:11:31] You've got your things, you enabled it and look, everything looks exactly as it should do, but obviously if you're going to modify things, it's best to have those modifications elsewhere, but yeah, it's a quirk. That one isn't it would be good if that could be, rearchitected, but that's the legacy.

[00:11:47] Yeah. In fact, when I started with WordPress, I don't think anybody really thought about it. You just didn't. I guess most people didn't expect that there'd be modifying their themes in quite the way that we ended up doing later. So that's the thing there and yeah, and it's surprising isn't it?

[00:12:07] That the repository doesn't automatically do that. So it installs you a child. That's a, that's a standard practice. Yeah. Okay. Next stop. Next up, uh, males sending. Ooh. Yeah. Gosh, how many times do people talk about this one? Well, anyway, we've got a solution which we both liked, which is fluent at well SM PT, which is, I said, TPO, I always get this wrong way, man.

[00:12:36] Yeah. I've heard you say that the wrong way round a few times. I never comment. And you picked it up yourself. It's simple mail transport protocol, I think. Yes. Yes. I'm sure there was something that used to click music to video that was called SM PT. That was TP. Yeah. No, that's simply where it would try to allow.

[00:13:00] Yeah. Your audio with the video. Yeah. but I guess the, yeah, they say simply as an, as a short way of the, the acronym. Anyway, we're totally going off message here. That's where it comes from. That's why I swap it around. Cause T first. Yeah. Yeah, the w the reason I liked this plugin is it's a fairly new one.

[00:13:21] It's totally free on the repository. And the reason that I've switched over to it is it has all the options that I need. You can use Google or any other service you'd like, including just regular old SMTP connections. And it's got this nice feature where you can resend on successfully sent emails, bots, you found one, which I think has got a really nice feature.

[00:13:47] You've got. No. No, actually it's the fluent that's got the feature that I think is really cool. It's only just come in, ask them about it and it's it's the fact that you can line up. So I use mail gun as my service, and apparently what this has got a fallback system. So if mail gun fails to deliver.

[00:14:10] The fluent SMPT will then go to the next one that I've assigned, say that send in blue or whatever, as a service, or just using my own mail address to serve it. So default star, I don't think there's anyone who's doing that and I'm not using that at the moment I'm using for simplicity. I'm using mail guns.

[00:14:28] Okay. System for that. And then another plugin, which is called mail capture to just catcher mail. So if something does go wrong, at least we've got some record of what was submitted. I see. Okay. Got it. I thought male catcher was the one that had got this new feature. So the idea here is that fluent SMTP will, if it fails to deliver off its primary service, it will then go back and try again with a different service that.

[00:14:57] I hope I've got this right. But I think that's the main, I think that's the main thing. So I wasn't going for the flu at one, because it just did more than I needed. And this mail capture was like a few kilobytes or something to do its job. So I thought I won't install this one, but now I might just switch over to this fluid SM T P going to get it right.

[00:15:17] In future, because of this one feature where you can assign some kind of backup, cause you wouldn't know, would you otherwise, if you'll send services. You have to go into your install to find out whether it caught some mail that wasn't there. And it is a good idea. If you are going to be putting contact forms and what have you in on a website not to just use the the, the host PHP mailer or something, do you use a different service because you don't want everything hitting spam.

[00:15:49] Yeah. And it, I think it seems to be the case when people say stop sending that usually is the thing that I see. And it's usually because it has been set up on the server and then at some point the hosting services decided to disable it. Yeah, yeah. Which is quite common. I think it's usually because they're trying to optimize their service.

[00:16:09] Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Moving on every time you update your WordPress plugins and themes and what have you as a little file Korea. Temporarily a maintenance file. And then it gets deleted when everything has successfully updated itself. But during the period of time, that maintenance file exists. You have a little message on the front end of the website, which obviously if that file doesn't get exists, sorry, it doesn't get erased for one reason or another.

[00:16:38] Your is totally unaccessible. I've never had this. I've only noticed it in the moment. Websites are actually being updated in their plugins and themes and what have you, but it's, I've never had it not erase itself. Do you know? I think this must be a hosting thing cause you've always had good hosting. And over recent years, since I've been doing it professionally, I've always had good hosting and then never had it.

[00:17:03] But I used to have it quite frequently before, and that was on shared hosting. So I'm guessing. With that, when you see it, there just some sort of trigger that never got fired to go out and delete that file. Th the nice thing is if you've got FTP access, all you need to do is log in and find the maintenance file and delete toot as well.

[00:17:26] So it's easy to find. So I wonder if there's a lot of plugins, that come in. Plugins that will have a maintenance mode as well. If you set that or wonder if that removes that, have you ever done that? No. Set up. No. Should do. We shouldn't be really, it's an ugly experience to get the default word.

[00:17:45] Yeah, it's very plain. It's, it's, it's, uh, I don't know, grayish background with one little box with one sentence in it saying something like this website is in maintenance mode. So you're S you're advocating for having a pretty maintenance mode page or, I haven't done it. I think I just made me ask the question really.

[00:18:05] I suppose I should, because I try and do the maintenance, the updates when people aren't likely to be visiting the sites, but still, I guess it would be. Yeah. It's a, I guess it's a bit like the 4 0 4 pages quite nice to have, but you know, possibly not necessarily, I don't know. I guess most websites are probably experiencing what a minute of this.

[00:18:29] Every couple of days or something. Yeah. There's no harm doing it. I don't think I'll be doing it. I'm too. Yeah, there is that, is it worth the time effort, but maybe it should be a standard, but it's just another plugin that you have to install. Isn't it. And someone's going to tell me that wasn't the default message for that is actually, I can't remember how the sentence reads, but maybe there's a way to just update that message to say we will be back in a few seconds.

[00:18:57] Click refresh in a moment, but I can't remember whether it makes that point because obviously sites being in maintenance mode, you might just lose a bunch of people who assume that you're out for the rest of the night. Exactly. You could put least some basic information about your site and how they can contact you and et cetera.

[00:19:15] And that's, I'm good. I've got to start thinking about doing that. Okay. White screen of death is the next one. Not there's not much to say about this is the, this is a bit apocryphal for me. I just don't have any recollection of getting the white screen. I think I've created that problem myself, but I've absolutely instantly no.

[00:19:36] The I've missed like a semi-colon or something. Yeah. I haven't, I haven't ended a PHP function correctly and I've just gone out. Okay. And then I fixed it but I, I can't remember it happening without my express cock-up

[00:19:52] and we have a recovery mode, which is great. Now we can go and put it in safe mode and change out, plug in. So that's where do you get those messages? Very often? Again, not really. There's not a lot is changing. I think I have one, not that often, but once in awhile I get them same. It's usually something like a backup of as exhausted my memory and this a problem go into recover and never have to recover, go into recovery mode because the Link's there, but I never have to do anything apart from just take it out of recovery mode.

[00:20:24] But anyway, it's just, but then it seems like the white screen of death, which used to be a common complaint with WordPress has probably covered. Yeah. Yeah. It's more of a thing in the past. Yeah, you're right. I have, I definitely did get those messages. I've seen those messages coming in the past, but it's not a feature of my life, but it's a nice, it's a really, really nice that the recovery mode has, has been created.

[00:20:51] I can't remember it. What is it? Probably like a year and a half old, something like that now. Yeah. Yeah. I think so the next one probably wants to skip over the login, redirect loop. That's a common problem that people have, but again, it's not one for me. I don't have this one. So I have to look up an article to tell me what the problem is and how to fix.

[00:21:11] So is this where you go to the login page and log in and then you just go to the login page and log in and you go to the log basically. Yeah. So we you've found a link and I'll put it in the show notes too. Oh, wait, I don't even remember if that link describes why this problem might have existed in the first place.

[00:21:31] It gives you two or three different options for how to possibly mitigate it. Yeah. Somewhere it could be browser caching. That's one of the things that, you know, that you're not seeing something that isn't there, that you haven't seen it from somewhere else. And then it's usually about we store in there.

[00:21:47] HT access file. There might be some issues there. And there are plugins of course, that mess around with that file. You know, it is possible that. If you could be created, but then they go into all of us. They basically, it goes the easiest option, check it. Isn't your browser giving you wrong information, which can be, have you ever found that expert?

[00:22:08] So when they have seen it and then, you think you haven't solved your problem, but it's your brows like Cashin, you go into incognito mode and the problem no longer exists. So yeah, that does that. And that starts to get into, looking into your database. Oh issues there. So I think we'll skip over that one because it gets too complex.

[00:22:28] But but yes, I have usually solved it by going to another browser and then realized, okay, the website is working perfectly. It is my problem. I need to get this working because it's this browser that has the problem logging in. It's not that the website, nobody can log in. It's just this particular browser of mine.

[00:22:51] Exactly and the other one I'm in again, this one comes up. I see in the groups all the time, fatal error, and it's usually that fatal error is a memory not having enough memory, not defined in enough Ram or bad hosting. I honestly you had to tell me what you thought, the right number of. For the allocation of Ram wasn't D minimum you go for, I think it was 256, something like that.

[00:23:18] That seems to be about the right area nowadays. And I, to be honest, I've never known and I've gone for five, 12, most of the time. Just allowing enough room because I trust my service to be able to honor that. But, that's the thing, isn't it, you, it's another definition that you can place into your WP conflict file to set it, but then that doesn't guarantee you're going to have enough Ram in your server to honor.

[00:23:47] It rarely I'm sticking. As you pointed out before, often I'll be cramming, a bunch of small sites on one GB. Ram hosting, but given them all, half of that Ram. Yeah. So it doesn't add up, does it if it's needed, but that's my thinking, I would love to hear if that's the wrong, I just think, oh, allow this site to have the Ram it needs.

[00:24:13] Yes. Yeah. Give it the maximum number possible and hope for the. Yeah. It's worked out so far. Yeah, I think that's a problem. And I think the, particularly with page builders becoming so popular, they demand more Ram don't they in the backend. And that's where people run into issues with kind of budget shared hosting.

[00:24:34] I think often then the, the plugins that I've used, that, that know already for themselves, that they're going to be Ram intensive. So I'm thinking of things. Main WP they've often got some kind of visual run through at the beginning, whilst you're setting the whole website up for the first time and you get in that plugin or installed and you're working out the settings and they tell you, really you're not gonna this.

[00:25:00] Isn't gonna work in the shoe somehow figure out to how to increase the Ram available. So in the case of main WP, that links to tutorials. How to do this and and yeah, but that's a pretty unique case, but you're right. Page builders. I imagine that's a fairly common thing appearing in support, I've got cheap hosting.

[00:25:22] Why isn't my page builder working. Okay. Try this. Go and fiddle with your HQ conflict files. But it's something that's really moved. Isn't it in WordPress, the early requirements for WordPress, what they would expect, you'd be set in something like that was much lower now, as we've got bigger plugins doing so much more, there's a trend isn't there to, peace builders obviously do that.

[00:25:45] They become full site builders. They include in the sort of stuff that we have expected plugins to do before, but now plugging. Generally do a lot more than we actually need them to do. So they become quite intensive as well. Yeah. But there's also an expectation I would have imagined from.

[00:26:03] Non-technical end users. So people who are just using WordPress and, they've decided they want to do the.org version. So they've downloaded it, got some hosting and they're up and running. It may be, they simply don't understand that piling and a load of plugins is going to be consuming a load of resources.

[00:26:21] And like you say, a few of them page builders in particular, they are really. Consuming a lot of resources. And despite the fact that you're paying $6 a month to a hosting company, that's $6 a month might not cut it. You might not get the resources that you want for that figure. Yeah, exactly. I didn't have a clue when I went in there.

[00:26:42] It's just a sweet shop. Isn't it, all these plugins. Whew, it'll be fine. And honestly, mostly I'm sure it will be, when it grinds through all that might be the. Yep. Four oh fours on your pages. So refreshing permalinks. This is something that often have to tell people we'll do. Yeah. And curiously, w we're not entirely sure where, what the correct procedure is here.

[00:27:05] My, my thought was that if you went to settings permalinks, that was all you needed to do. You didn't need to click say. But if, yeah, if you're changing the permalink structure, in other words, if you're going from, I don't know, post name to something with a date in front of it. You know, the date followed by the post name, then you would need to click save.

[00:27:27] But I think just actually visiting the permalinks page will clear the cache of that. And you need to, Annette will rephrase. Yeah, it refreshes the end of the day. And I didn't know that I always thought, because I think I read it a long time ago that you go into the permalinks page and then you just click without changing any of the settings.

[00:27:50] The. That's what I was told. So that's what I've done either way, but yeah, if you visited the page, exactly. I didn't know why that's one extra step at the time. I will imagine the whole seconds you could have saved in your life if you'd have only known that was the case. Yeah. One Duff article. But yeah, if you're getting 4 0 4 hours, go to settings permalinks and see if that's, that works as a first port.

[00:28:21] And there's a related issue, which came up with a friend of mine was what seems to happen with posts. Now, again, I could be wrong, but it seems to happen twice to me is that if you're setting up your blog posts and you don't have a subdirectory of blog before you come to the name of that particular article, it's going to be very similar to pages.

[00:28:44] Isn't it? It's the title of the page. So this is what's happened. The permalinks set to post. Yes. So what's happened a couple of times, is that recently, in fact, one of the clients, they wrote an article on my blog posts. You went to it and it took you to the page because it was the same URL as a page that had earlier been constructed, because I guess posts are separate custom post types if you like to the pages.

[00:29:12] And and then instead of doing what posts would normally do, if. But the same title it, but that had to, to it. So you would end up, I'm not doing that. It doesn't happen between pages and posts. So that's an interesting one. That's just a personal one. I don't think other than it happened to me twice.

[00:29:32] I don't think I've heard anybody speak. No, but that would be properly mystifying though, as well. Wouldn't it? Because you'd have, yeah. So let's say you've got example.com forward slash I don't know, big post. And then you go to CRE and that's a page. And then you go and create a post called example.com big post.

[00:29:54] The second one that you created, whether that was the post or the page will be unavailable. On the front-end you'll be able to edit in the backend, you'll, you'll go to save it and it won't exist. So I guess you either change the post title and then the slug. So you've got a new slug, but that would be totally mesmerizing.

[00:30:17] Why that does it? That would, impenetrable for a non-experienced user would be like I've saved it. It's there. I can see it. It's published. It says it's published. Okay. Yeah, no, I've definitely had that. I've definitely had that. And that takes a little bit of figuring out why, how WordPress works in terms of the constructions of its own URLs and so on.

[00:30:38] Okay. Hacked sites. That's the mother of all undoing, isn't it? Yeah, this is why you have the backups. That is the big undo. Isn't it? The backup use the. Yeah, absolutely well hacked sites. We have a slight disagreement because you rightfully point out when we were talking before that it's getting so complex that you really can't do it yourself because hackers are getting really sophisticated on how they bury their code.

[00:31:05] But. I'm the other way where I think I found successes all the time when I've done that just by running a scan with Wordfence on its highest setting. So it does give you false positives than just chucking away stuff that shouldn't be. Yeah. Yeah, it's interesting. Cause I was talking to somebody on the, this weekend WordPress show called Tim Nash and we were talking through it.

[00:31:28] I believe it even was a word fence posts about how does this while it's not really a new way, but the hackers are getting really good at hiding their hacks to. Very similar to just regular old code, as opposed to in the olden days where there'd just be a load of obfuscated stuff. Now you get things which just look like regular functions.

[00:31:49] And it very complicated. My point on this is that I guess if it was. If I could go out and find some articles, basically saying, look, this hack was really easy to fix. Go to this file. You'll notice this. Then you can just delete that and you're done or something equivalent to that. That's fine. But my fear with the complexity now is that.

[00:32:15] Clear out what I could find for myself, the obvious stuff. And then I might take that back to the client and say, okay. Yeah, I think we're good. And then only to find two weeks later, it's back and you've got egg all over your face. That's the problem. Yeah, no, I can understand that. And I think if I clear something gets it's, I've got to say it's with the understanding that I don't know what I'm doing.

[00:32:37] I can just make my best guests on clearance stuff up here. And most, the sites I've had to clear up have been. It's clients that we've built the site and they've gone off and hosted it themselves. So they've not updated that plugin. So it's been fairly easy, I think. But again, it's guesswork to guess where their hat came in because they've got a site with a known vulnerability that's been made public.

[00:33:02] So they were sitting ducks from that moment. And if they've got. And they haven't changed their site since that point, then I think it's pretty safe to be able to put that back up in and then update the plugin and it's probably going to be okay. So I've done that once. Most of the time they've changed something.

[00:33:19] So I've had to clear up. You know, we'd Wordfence fence, but it's worked every time. I must've done six or seven. I'm not entirely sure over my time, but every single one of those as not have the issue come back. So yeah, this is a, this is scary territory though. Isn't it? This is an area that you just pray is never going to happen.

[00:33:41] My point now would be just. A total cert certified pro deal with this. If I if I run into it, especially if it's a quick, if it's a quick fix, it, won't take them along any way. And if it's a more in-depth fix then that's the sort of stuff I wouldn't have been able to do. So it's, time-saving. Yep.

[00:34:01] And you want to just mention service didn't you as well? Oh yeah. Just really things like, engine X collapsing or something like that, an aspect of your server that just breaks. And it must've happened to all of us at some point, the, if you were an OVH us. I think it was probably about a year ago, they had a fire in one of their data centers.

[00:34:21] And so everybody who had a website on that hardware was going through some sort of period of downtime and you'd have been trying to log in and there had been nothing coming up and you would have been thinking what's going on. And there's nothing you can do about this. You just have. To hope that they'll figure out a way around that problem that doesn't involve rebuilding computers.

[00:34:45] It just involves in activating a different data center with your website on it. But yeah, things going down th there was a host recently wasn't there. We talked about it in the WordPress news. Not that long ago, that went down as a result of a hack and they lost everything and they had to write to a lot of their customers and.

[00:35:05] We've lost your website, but also we've lost your, all the backups. So sorry about that, but uh, yeah, you're just gonna have to start again. I think it was web hosting, Canada or Canada web hosting or something. Gosh, can you imagine it, I heard these stories with other hosts and w we're moving onto good practice now, aren't we?

[00:35:27] And I think, absolutely having a backup on some kind of third party server, or at least on your own computer, somewhere independent to your hosts. It's the ultimate, isn't it? Yeah. Yeah. Do I think you are negligent if you aren't backing up, but at least, if, if your hosting provider allows you to have a backup over there, great use that.

[00:35:53] But also with the wealth of free plugins on the WordPress repository, that can back up to a free tier of something like Google drive or Dropbox, you can get enough space to back up your website. Possibly dozens of times for completely no money at all. It just doesn't make sense not to have some backups.

[00:36:13] And of course the. The, the one, the big one, which me I'm guilty of this as much as anybody else's just make, just try the backups as well, just to make sure that they actually work because whilst that's never bitten me yet, there are certain, I've probably forgotten to check it back up and I'm still in a situation where I haven't checked those backups and I'm just a waste at home on a bit of a wing and a prayer.

[00:36:36] Really? Yeah. I always, that's what I feel when it's really difficult to. Some independent advice on what's a good backup plugin for you. Cause so many are going to depend on the host and environment and most people it's buy new insurance. Isn't it? You don't know how good it is until you need it.

[00:36:55] That's right. That's yeah. Um, okay, good practicing. So an obvious thing, is just checking the hosting requirements, which they are on the wordpress.org site. So you can find out what kind of server powered that you need, what type of database you're going to require and probably. No from experience, avoid using kind a windows server, really because you can, but it's a lot of extra work.

[00:37:23] Yeah. I think you are going to end up doing a whole boatload of extra things because it's just not. Yeah, the typical thing to do is to use some sort of Linux distribution. And because that's the typical thing, there's loads of people who have an answer to all that. And another one that's solved and forgotten about not least by me is that we've got default WordPress revisions anyways.

[00:37:43] So we can, unless we've changed it to delete those, we've usually got past history. We can just go back on our post and page. I never really make much use of this. So she's very grabbed the, I personally make use of it, but it's a really great. Yeah. Yeah, I did. I meant, I didn't mention it here.

[00:38:08] Did I? About my, the confusion I'd had over WP revisions with a friend of mine, a client really used to be the person I worked with. She couldn't, I said, just get back to a vision. She can get stuff back. And she was like, but it's not cheap what she'd done. And I'd never seen this before that she was swapping.

[00:38:28] The input in the content, in the page builder, and then input in it from the backend and in the post itself. And that company hold it. You confused with visions? Oh, so she was using a page builder and then she was saving that away. And then she'd go in and click edit page, which of course doesn't get you to the page, but then she would just override all of that with the body copy that she wanted and then click save and then wonderful.

[00:38:57] Everything looked different. Okay. Exactly. Yeah. It was a sort of swapping from one to the other, so suddenly saw. Yeah. So you'll find with WP revisions, as long as you stick with it. So if you use the page builder, it's going to restore all of the stuff there, but if you start swapping from one to the other, she did then, or it was really confusing because what often the page builder does separately is it does it so revisions doesn't it, of what it puts in.

[00:39:25] So it stores that independent. To the WordPress revisions. So you go in and you save again, you go into your page builder, suddenly all the stuff. That wasn't there in the backend, suddenly reappears again. So we got really lost with our revisions. How all of this stuff disappeared then came back as she swapped from it.

[00:39:46] Never seen it before. It was only recently. But do you expunge your revisions periodically? If you're building a client website, do you set it up so that it, I don't know, it keeps the latest 15 or 20 or something. Yeah, I used to set it. I used to define it in my conflict file to only keep so many.

[00:40:06] And now that's really pointless now because I've got other things like WP rocket, which will clear them out a set time and also main WP doing it as well. So no, I don't I only do it on the title. So there's, you've got these third party solutions, which do it all you know, they inject that logic in make you pay.

[00:40:29] I actually didn't know that was in main WP. That's a setting of yet to explore. Okay. That's good to know. I'll start doing that. What else have we got using a child theme? Yeah. Yes. Yeah. We're covered that. Yeah, we definitely that's. Yeah, so yeah, that's a must that, yeah, the more I think about it, the, my thinking isn't it crazy that we don't, that isn't automatically installed.

[00:40:53] Yeah. So if you get a theme that comes along with a child theme, because there's very little actually in it. Really there's nothing inside of a child theme at all, hardly. And having that as the default. Almost like it's the theme. Yeah. It seems like a sensible default, but I guess, I don't know.

[00:41:11] Yeah. I can see why people technically would want to be able to edit the theme as well as the child thing, but sure enough, it makes life a lot easier. If you're going to edit things, then create a child thing and edit it. And most themes these days they'll have a child theme of one kilobyte, which you can bring along for the ride.

[00:41:31] The one that I want to add in here. I don't think it really goes under undo, but it's still, I just like. Talk about this one, which is if you've, if you've got plugins, it's worth going into the settings and seeing which ones will allow you to remove the database entries on deletion. Because usually I think it's good practice that lot of them allow you to do this one, but usually it's ticked off by default and most people don't know.

[00:41:55] So recently I was looking at the Owen GF font plugin. So you have to go and turn that off if you want it to clear, get rid of. Fonts that is loaded for you at the end of it. Otherwise you can store up a lot of stuff. If you're experimenting with your site, do you think that's, I think it's really atypical that our plugin will delete all of that stuff.

[00:42:19] I think most plugins when you deactivate and delete them, don't do anything. And they're just the database swells over time. In many ways, I think that ought to be a kind of mandatory feature with all plugins and your. Told off, if you don't do that. You said that you came up with a solution. I think it's perfect.

[00:42:38] More people should listen to this show and implement what you said, which was this opt-out thing. When you delete it, you get, do you want to clear the database? I understand that it's the safest thing for them for support, isn't it particularly for your page builder. Heck can you imagine every time someone, had something go wrong with a page builder losing all that work, it would be a nightmare.

[00:43:00] Wouldn't it? So I understand that and certain plugins need it, but there were so many out. But I just think it's, they're there. If you look in the settings, that ability, so Wordfence is one we mentioned earlier, it's got that, but you have to turn it on, and that clears up a lot of junk if you want to get rid of Wordfence.

[00:43:17] Yeah. Yeah. I think for most plugins, maybe there are certain plugins where the utility is so great that it would be a catastrophe, but the vast majority of the plugins, the default expectation ought to be that if. Delete it, it should go. And it should be take everything every table that it created, every file that was part of the plugin should be removed.

[00:43:40] If you agree to that. So there we go. Nathan, I've never asked you this. Do you check your console? Excuse me for errors regularly. Do you mean if everything's working right. On your site, not really. Yeah. Do you mean just habitually go around and just put the console on and see if there's no, only if I notice something's a bit quirky, I'm guessing that you.

[00:44:06] I have started to Sonic that I only looked for problems, but I realized that, it's, it's so common. Recently I, realized how important it was because I was locally loading fonts. I loaded them in my route. I created a custom post type and I broke the connection to those fonts. I didn't see the issue because browser caching protected me from seeing that.

[00:44:30] So I went to those pages. There were four falls on. Fonts, but for me all was fine. It was other people who didn't see it. Or people who hadn't cashed it from another page, see if they went directly there and it's made me realize a more often. I see it. And it's interesting. Only the other day someone had, an issue with their site and they, they were really, they knew their stuff, but they hadn't checked.

[00:44:57] They consult and they had a 4 0 4 on something which was slowing down their pages clearly. So I've started to make this a habit. I know, develop. I'm not a developer really. So I don't think to do these, but now it's become a common thing while I'm building sites to constantly be checking that.

[00:45:14] And often when I just go. Client sites are built before. I just it's become a bit of a habit now. Yeah, no, no something, not something I typically would involve doing, but yeah, it is interesting. I it's, the rare is the site. I would say where there isn't some sort of. You know, there's always going to be something that's going on in there.

[00:45:37] And I guess you've just got to find it, find the ones that are pertinent to you. I could just, I yeah. So no, I base it. You don't do that. Oh yeah. I think it's quite handy, particularly, often with plugins as well. One of the common warnings that you see with looking at that one is, is I, I forget what it stands for, but it's called cause where you have.

[00:45:59] Permission to connect up to on your site or domain name, to connect up to the thing that they're serving you up. And it's quite interesting. And you just don't, these things are all obviously slowing down your page loads, so yeah. Okay. Consoles check concept. There you go. David says check the consoles.

[00:46:16] We all must go and check the consoles more. I'll tell you what I do. Do I, as I've got a decent uptime monitoring service, which I'm quite happy with I got pretty much everything. If there's two or three on the same server, it may be that I'll just check one of them. But typically I'll set up every single site with some kind of uptime monitoring, usually with I dunno, checking it every five minutes, something like that, so that I will get a warning if something is astray and very happy, but you're you, and I've got the same one.

[00:46:51] And I think both of us agreed that it seems to do pretty admirably. The thing that. Yeah. It's a peace of mind thing is now. You, you, it's undo there. So we're talking about preventative stuff, but still it's important. If you don't know you've got a problem, you don't know what you need to figure out.

[00:47:07] So yeah, the last thing you want is to be found out by client telling you that the site's down better for you to email them, to tell them that their site's down, but you're on it. You're going to go and have a look and undo every single thing that went. Yeah. Honestly, that uptime monitoring is really good cause I'm often setting up test sites and deleting and stuff and they just get that email so quickly telling me that it's not there, and then yeah, yeah. It really works. I often will get an email from the service that we use whilst the sites are in maintenance mode. And honestly it's probably like 30 seconds. It must be pure coincidence that their little ping is going out at the exact moment that I clicked. Update on the, on plugins or themes or what have you.

[00:47:54] But nevertheless, it's a nice bit of confirmation that actually paid for this and it's doing what it said it would do. Yeah. And the, and another preventative thing I think is worth doing from almost everybody, unless you use Jetpack, I think, but it's disabling XML. Let me get this right. X, M L RPC.

[00:48:16] Not easy to say. Don't worry. Yeah, it's the yeah, it's the thing that was there for pinging in blog times. And it's still there and I believe that WordPress is moving towards a react solution for that, but it's not removed because it'll break people's existing sites, so they're stuck with it, but it is, I think isn't it.

[00:48:37] The number one root for hackers these days, it seems to be the number one thing that the. Th the plugins, I think security and Wordfence and all of that seems to be one of their first boxes to tick is shall we, should we just enable this? Or should we just disable it? Should I say? And mostly the default is let's disable it unless you've got a jolly good reason to have it enabled.

[00:49:01] So yeah, turn that off unless that you ought to have it turned on, which is unlikely. Yeah. And it's just a line that you need to put in your HT access file. Isn't it. To turn it off for you don't need a plugin. So it's good. Yep. I think we're getting to the end here. We've maybe just quickly round up with a few kind of prevention things.

[00:49:24] Sure. Um, A lot of the problems might be just down to not doing due diligence on plugins and the kind of background that those, the authors behind them and what's going on now. I think that if anything has kept me mostly trouble-free, I think it's been doing that kind of work, checking out where I'm getting my plugins from.

[00:49:48] Yeah you are exceptionally good with all this. You were the first person really that made me set up, notice that actually finding out about the heritage of the company that you're about to buy a plugin from. And it's not just the, actually this site just. A bit dubious. There's something, this site just looks a bit on the cheap side.

[00:50:08] You kind of go a bit more don't you and figure out, see what the, see, what the authors heritage is. See if they've had any projects which have been an absolute catastrophe before and so on. And why not? This is a good idea. And now I try to do that. In fact, it's not even that I try to do this.

[00:50:25] I'm listening to people like you trusted sources of people who are, who've been out there and played with these things and tried them out and. And so it's, I'm listening to the wise words from you and other people to let me judge whether or not I should move forward with certain plans.

[00:50:43] Yeah. And it's a hard thing, I think, because some plugins just do a very simple task and they probably don't require much, but just knowing, you know, they don't have to be, that's just on this people behind the plugins who makes sense of why they're doing it, uh, we've had a lot of those cases where the entire plugins been stripped out and you've got something different, and, um, you know with certain. Who make plugins that were unlikely to do that. So I don't know, it's just, it's just thinking that way. I ignore my own advice very often on this, but you know, you're allowed to ignore your own. We've already mentioned backup seven way to a third party server.

[00:51:30] That's the biggest preventative thing and backups, maybe your you're big on this and I'm poor on this backup on your local machine. So if saving copies of that and have copies of any of your other resources that you need for your website, you probably want to back up, you use a service that I used.

[00:51:48] Yeah, I use spider routes, which yeah, but it's funny because I'm using it via a third party solution. So I'm backing up to Google drive, which then backs up to spider Oak. So I'm still relying upon some sort of cloud service, but I'm essentially taking that back up and it's sitting on my machine. And then it's backing up to multiple places.

[00:52:08] Essentially. I'm getting the backup, which I pray is worthy. It will actually restore. And then I'm sending that to multiple locations. So one is on my local machine. One is on a third party and I think that's a good idea. Yeah. And the last one you've written here is you know, not overdoing it with lots and lots of plugins, particularly ones that are doing an awful lot of work.

[00:52:31] So heavy plugins as you've done. Yeah, I think that's the trend we have now plugins to do a lot more because WordPress is much more commercial than it used to be in the old days. And people need something to add on, to add value to it. So it's very easy. Isn't it to go overboard and end up with plugins that are often doing the same task.

[00:52:55] Yeah. Yeah, yeah. And honestly, I think, I think it's totally possible to build a website with almost no plugins. You can do quite a lot these days with very little, and I guess it's about avoiding the temptation. Do you really need this thing? Is that really a plugin that you need?

[00:53:17] Or will your website perform better in Google? And therefore we discovered more. Bye people, if you keep it lean and fast. Exactly. Often, you you could install a plugin that does a multitude of different things just for what is a line of CSS. Or sometimes if you can find someone who might be able to give you a clue, how to do that, it might be the better route rather than just another plugin.

[00:53:43] Cause it's just another potential thing that can conflict with existing plugins. Right, right. I think we have, we've done it. It's quite a long one. Actually we talked for quite a long time then. I will, uh, I will, we had a few little stops and starts during this one. So I'm hoping that I've had the intelligence to go back and edit them out because we had a few little moments where people walked into various rooms.

[00:54:09] Uh, if there was any of that in the recording, I apologize. It means I've gone out and edited it all out. But yeah, that was good. So what was that? We're on ABCD. That was you. What comes after you? It's V. V for virus. Taken up for security. Yeah. We're not going for medical stuff. It's not V for Veruca.

[00:54:36] It's been for virus. Anything security related. We'll talk about in this one, we will see you probably in two weeks time. It was a nice chat. Thank you, David. Thank you. Bye-bye. I really hope that you enjoyed that as always. If David and I missed anything out, please head over to the page on WP Builds.com.

[00:54:55] Search for episode number 249. You'll remember it's called you as for undo and leave us a comment there. Alternatively, head over to our Facebook group. WP Builds.com forward slash Facebook, and you can join in the thread over there instead. We'd be most welcome to hear your comments positive or negative.

[00:55:13] Just another quick reminder of the page builder summit happening in October the 18th to the 22nd head over to page builder, summit.com and get yourself signed up so that we can keep you informed as to what's happening when it's happening. And when the speakers are presenting their talks and all that good stuff, it really is shaping up to be a good event.

[00:55:32] If you go to that page, scroll down, have a look at the speaker list and I'm sure you'll be delighted to attend. Get yourself signed up. And if you're a sponsor, Person in the WordPress space who has a product or service, and you'd like to reach out well, [email protected]. We'll get you into my inbox and I will be right back with some more information.

[00:55:53] Okay. That's all we got for this week. I hope that you enjoy. Stay safe. See you next week. Cheesy music coming in. Bye bye for now.

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Nathan Wrigley
Nathan Wrigley

Nathan writes posts and creates audio about WordPress on WP Builds and WP Tavern. He can also be found in the WP Builds Facebook group, and on Mastodon at wpbuilds.social. Feel free to donate to WP Builds to keep the lights on as well!

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