Website Maintenance

Tag: Website Maintenance

WordPress 5.0, Avada, And You. All That You Need To Know.

2018-12-11T00:05:18+00:00December 6th, 2018|43 Comments

All things Gutenberg are afoot. We have released several articles following the progress of Gutenberg and how it affects Avada and the entire WordPress arena. What is Gutenberg? read about it here. Gutenberg, the new WordPress editing experience has been in plugin form (external to WordPress Core) for quite some time now, requiring you to install it in order to try it out. The reason why Gutenberg was not incorporated into WordPress core thus far (pre WP 5.0) is for testing and feedback purposes, allowing the core WP and the Gutenberg team to gather more data and feedback on how Gutenberg functions and interacts with users installs in the wild.

In this post, we will be covering a fair amount and we encourage you to go through it all. WordPress version 5.0 is slated for release on November 19th, November 27th, December 6th (there is a backup release date of January 22, 2019 if more testing is required), adding Gutenberg to the WordPress core and how this affects you is detailed below.

What Do I Need To Do In Preparation For WordPress 5.0?

This will depend on the Avada version you are currently running. If you are already running Avada 5.7.2 (latest available version is: 5.8.1) you are all set and good to go. Otherwise we recommend updating Avada to the latest version. Always make sure that you check and follow the detailed instructions for updating your theme. The importance of maintaining your site by making sure that your theme and plugins are regularly kept up to date, cannot be overstated. If you can’t update to the latest version of Avada just now, we have you covered too.

Already running Avada 5.7.2? Nothing to do!

You can expect the same seamless working experience that you are used to with Avada and WordPress. Both, Avada and the Fusion Builder, will be unaffected and this includes the front-end of your site. Additionally, feel free to try the WordPress 5.0 Gutenberg editor. We added options to either create a post on Gutenberg or within Fusion Builder, your choice. You can’t edit a page/post created with Gutenberg in the Fusion Builder or vice versa, however, you are free to try Fusion Builder Elements in Gutenberg. More information please read our help file.

We have implemented the option to choose between the Fusion Builder and Gutenberg when creating new pages or posts as illustrated below.

Page & Post Editing Selection
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you create a page/post with Gutenberg you can’t edit/maintain the same page/post with the Fusion Builder and vice versa. They are not interchangeable.

Choosing Classic Editor gives you this -> https://d.pr/i/4lNtYa

Choosing Fusion Builder gives you this -> https://d.pr/i/7ncHkD

Choosing Gutenberg gives you this -> https://d.pr/i/7N1lJP – note the Edit with Fusion Builder button, top left.

Can I Also Use The New Block Editor?

Yes, you certainly can. What must be noted is that if you create a page/post with Gutenberg you cannot edit/maintain the same page/post using the Fusion Builder and vice versa. They are not interchangeable. Any Gutenberg page/post created will display perfectly on the front end of the site to anyone viewing it.

Running Avada below 5.7.2? Don’t panic!

Update Avada To The Latest Version – Here Is How

Whether you are running an old version of Avada or not, regular maintenance is critically important. Furthermore, making sure that your theme and plugins are kept up top date should be a part of your maintenance procedure. These are our detailed update instructions:

Something else that is important is to also ensure any patches that our team releases between update cycles are applied as part of ongoing maintenance for your install and always clear your cache plugins post update.

  • Current Avada version is 5.8.1
  • Current Fusion Builder version is 1.8.1
  • Current Fusion Core version is 3.8.1

What If I Can’t Update Avada, Will My Site Break?

The short answer is: No. The front-end of your site will be unaffected and everything will remain perfectly functional, not affecting your website visitors. It is the WordPress back-end of your install where you will have obstacles. If you have not updated your Avada theme to the latest version, it won’t be possible to edit posts/pages with the Fusion Builder, that is why we strongly recommend updating to Avada 5.8.1+ before you update to WordPress 5.0. See our detailed update instructions.

If you are not able to update your theme just yet, you have two other options as listed below:

1 – Install And Activate The Classic Editor Plugin

The Classic Editor plugin is developed and maintained by the core WordPress team and will be officially supported until December 31, 2021. Install and activate the Classic Editor plugin.

It does what it says on the tin and will sideline the WordPress Gutenberg editor upon activation. The plugin also makes it possible to keep both the Gutenberg and the Classic editor at the same time, configured the in the plugin’s settings. Go to WordPress Dashboard >> Settings > Writing page, you will see the option under “Classic editor settings”.

All of this means that the traditional WordPress editor is active and Fusion Builder is enabled for all pages and posts.

  • Download Classic Editor or install via WordPress Dashboard >> Plugins

  • Active installations: 600,000+
  • WordPress Version: 4.5 or higher
2 – Or, Install The Disable Gutenberg Plugin

This method allows you to to disable the WordPress Gutenberg editor for certain or all user roles and post types and override any Gutenberg related nags. Install and activate the Disable Gutenberg plugin. Upon activation, go to the >> WordPress Dashboard > Settings > Disable Gutenberg page to configure the plugins settings.

  • Download Disable Gutenberg or install via WordPress Dashboard >> Plugins
  • Active installations: 10,000+
  • WordPress Version: 4.9 or higher

If I Choose Not To Update WordPress, Will Avada Work?

Yes, of course, Avada will work perfectly with the 4.9.8 version of WordPress. You can delay updating to WordPress 5.0 if you have accessibility concerns or are simply not ready to do so at this time.

Our (ThemeFusion’s) Perspective On Gutenberg, Avada, and WordPress

We do feel that the new editing experience for WordPress is in the right direction, it is however, the delivery of this project that we do not agree with and we are not the only ones to feel this way. As a team, we have been closely monitoring the Gutenberg/WordPress 5.0 development cycle. This being necessary, because we have no control over the development of WP core, to ensure that we can deliver the an experience to our user-base that is as seamless as possible. Due to constant changes by the WP core team it has been very difficult for us to have anything prepared months in advance of the 5.0 release.

From user facing functionality, accessibility, and even back-end functionality, preparations have been difficult but conscientious on our end. When we released Avada 5.7 on October 1st, we included a layer of Gutenberg compatibility. It made sure that you can work with Avada and Fusion Builder just in the way you are used to. Since Gutenberg was a plugin prior to WordPress 5.0, and not yet merged into core, we implemented a compatibility layer for the plugin. More changes were made by the WordPress core team for which we have made further adjustments to ensure a seamless experience for Avada users.

WordPress 5.0, Say Hello To The New Editor

The new WordPress 5.0 Welcome screen greets you with:

“You’ve successfully upgraded to WordPress 5.0! We’ve made some big changes to the editor. Our new block-based editor is the first step toward an exciting new future with a streamlined editing experience across your site. You’ll have more flexibility with how content is displayed, whether you are building your first site, revamping your blog, or write code for a living.”

WordPress 5.0 Welcome Screen

At the very top of the page the following prompt is visible “Learn how to keep using the old editor.”, clicking that takes you to the “Keep it Classic” and plugin install option, as shown below:

WordPress 5.0 Welcome Screen

“Prefer to stick with the familiar Classic Editor? No problem! Support for the Classic Editor plugin will remain in WordPress through 2021.

The Classic Editor plugin restores the previous WordPress editor and the Edit Post screen. It lets you keep using plugins that extend it, add old-style meta boxes, or otherwise depend on the previous editor. To install, visit your plugins page and click the “Install Now” button next to “Classic Editor”. After the plugin finishes installing, click “Activate”. That’s it!

Note to users of assistive technology: if you experience usability issues with the block editor, we recommend you continue to use the Classic Editor.

There has been significant discontent with regard to overall accessibility and the new Gutenberg editor. On October 30th, WP Tavern released an article with a sobering assessment of the accessibility status of Gutenberg. You can read the full report from Joe Dolson here.

Back to installing the Classic Editor plugin from the WordPress welcome screen, your next step will be as follows:

Install Classic Editor Plugin Screen

In the subsequent WordPress Dashboard >> Plugins screen, click “Install Now” then activate the plugin. Installing the Classic Editor disabled the new Gutenberg editor as default and gives you the traditional editing experience for pages and posts.

Classic Editor Plugin Settings
WordPress Writing Settings

There are two settings for the Classic Editor plugin. The default is > “Replace the Block editor with the Classic editor.” and the secondary is > “Use the Block editor by default and include optional links back to the Classic editor.”

WordPress 5.0 vs. The World

Millions of people around the world make a living off of WordPress and the extended ecosystem. Each and every day millions of people leave their indelible mark on the internet through the WordPress sites, plugins and services that exist. With the launch of WordPress back in May 2003, Matt Mullenweg made it clear that WordPress was intended to make ‘Blogging’ accessible to anyone and everyone. WordPress has since has evolved into a full-featured Content Management System and web publishing platform for the masses.

There has been very public concern and a fair amount of disagreement in regard to the readiness of Gutenberg. For the most part about the sheer amount of change within the WordPress core and what some feel is the lack of democratic decision making for the timeline of Gutenberg’s release. There are those that applaud the new editor for certain workflows and the need to update the editing experience within WordPress and others that emphatically state it should be an optional plug-in you can use to replace the current established TinyMCE editor if you so choose to and not added to the core of WordPress.

With an average rating of 2.3 out of 5 stars, the new editor and intended deployment has had a rocky start. Regardless of the perspective on Gutenberg, the most resent outcry has been down to the timing for the latest release date for WordPress 5.0. The date had changed a few times and a final, hard release of December 6th was announced.

In Summary

Our team will continue to monitor the WordPress development cycle. As has and always will be the case, we are dedicated to delivering the best working experience to everyone who uses our products, with any new version of WordPress. We will also continue to release up to the minute documentation for anything that Avada users need to be prepared for and functionality pertaining to WordPress and future progress.

The 500 Internal Server Error: Why It Happens, and How to Fix It in WordPress

2018-10-31T16:23:28+00:00June 8th, 2018|0 Comments

In a previous post, we looked at how to combat the dreaded White Screen of Death (WSoD) – but that’s not the only error that can ravage your WordPress website and leave you tearing your hair out. The 500 Internal Server error is just as damaging (and potentially confusing) to fix.

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The Complete Guide to Updating Your WordPress Theme

2018-10-31T20:56:22+00:00August 14th, 2015|1 Comment

Updating your theme can be daunting for those new to the world of WordPress, and can occasionally catch out even experienced users. With a major recent update of Avada hot off the presses, now is a great time to review best practices for keeping your site’s look and feel up to date – without tearing your hair out in the process.

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Tips and Tools to Recover a Hacked WordPress Site

2018-08-31T14:47:07+00:00June 10th, 2015|3 Comments

Even the most secure websites on the internet are vulnerable to attacks and can be hacked. As a WordPress users there are some basic WordPress security settings that can prevent you from many commonly known threats. Advance users can further strengthen their WordPress security by adding more layers of security around their WordPress sites. However, lets assume that despite all these things your WordPress site gets hacked. In this post, we will discuss the things you can do to recover a hacked WordPress site. We also talk about tools and plugins you can use to clean up an infected site.

Change All Passwords Associated with Your Site

Each WordPress website uses several passwords. There are passwords for WordPress admin area, for your MySQL database, for your FTP/SSH access, your web hosting account, and most importantly passwords for email accounts associated with these logins. Even a single compromised password can give hackers full access to your entire WordPress site.

LastPass Logo

First thing you should do when your WordPress site is hacked, is to change all those passwords and even usernames if possible. Use unique and strong passwords for each account. If you are not already using a password management utility then start using one right away. This will allow you to use stronger passwords without remembering them.

Once you have changed all your passwords, you can move on to cleaning up and restoring your website. However, keep in mind that you will have to change all your passwords once again after you have restored your website.

Create a Backup of Your Infected Site

Yes, you heard us right. If you do not have a backup of your site before it got hacked or infected, then you should immediately create a complete backup of whatever you have left.

Most common WordPress infections simply inject malicious code, malware, and things like that into your WordPress files or database. Cleaning up those files or database can be difficult but can be done.

However, the first thing that you want to do is to save your data. If you have access to the admin area of your WordPress site then you can install a backup plugin. If you do not have access to the admin area then you will have to manually create backup of your WordPress site.

Restore from Backup

Most users don’t realize the importance of setting up WordPress backup solution until their site gets hacked. It is true, even we learnt the importance of backups the hard way.

If your WordPress site gets hacked, or someone injected malicious code into your site. Then restoring your site from the backup is the quickest and the safest way to get up and running again.

Finding The Backdoor in Hacked WordPress Site

A backdoor is a disguised executable file or code snippet uploaded by the hackers on your site. This file gives them remote access to your site. If you clean up infected files, and the backdoor is still there, then your files will get affected again.

Scanning Your WordPress Site

There are tools and plugins which will allow you to check the integrity of all WordPress files and database. However, before you run it, you will need to delete all plugins from your plugin folder and remove all inactive themes. This will allow scanning tools and plugins to show less false positives.

Check your WordPress uploads directory, and look for any php file there. Uploads directory is usually reserved for media files. If there is a php file there then delete it.

Exploit Scanner

Exploit Scanner Plugin

Exploit Scanner is a very powerful WordPress plugin that allows you to scan all your WordPress files, uploads directory, and database for suspicious files and malicious code. It is developed and maintained by a team of very talented and knowledgeable WordPress security experts.

Simply install and activate the plugin and run the scanner. The scanning process may take some time depending on your database size and installed plugins. It will show you three types of notices for severe, warning, and notes. You need to carefully examine those results. One downside of the plugin is that it may show you false positives and you need to carefully examine results to be extra sure.

Sucuri Security

Sucuri Scanner Plugin

Sucuri is one of the leading website security companies. This free plugin allows you to run sucuri security scans on your website. This scan will check your website for file integrity, malicious code injection, and security auditing. The plugin will also recommend actions you can take to strengthen your site’s security. We mentioned many of these actions in our strengthening WordPress security for advanced users article.

Getting Help to Recover Your Hacked WordPress Site

The steps mentioned above would help you easily recover your WordPress site. However, in some rare cases you may find yourself in a much more difficult situation. For example, a hack would keep coming back, or you would be unable to locate malicious code in your database.

First you need to understand that whatever is happening to your site has already happened to thousands of websites. There are already solutions available for no matter how difficult your situation seems to be. The best place to get help with your hacked WordPress site is the official WordPress support forums. Describe your problem with as much detail as possible and you will get help from other users and even experts.

Apart from official WordPress forums you can try other web development communities for help. Stack Exchange site for WordPress is another great online community to get help and advice from experts.

Conclusion:

Web is becoming more and more like real world. There are challenges and dangers lurking around the corner. Instead of being scared, you should be prepared and ready to take on those challenges. Together we can make the web a safer place where people from all over can freely conduct business, express opinions, and share cool stuff.

The Beginner’s Guide to WordPress Managed Hosting Options

2018-08-31T14:48:58+00:00May 14th, 2015|0 Comments

With WordPress now powering over 31,3% of the web, its days of being regarded as a niche blogging solution are well and truly over.

But while the platform itself has made quantum leaps in reliability, usability and power on both the back and front end over the years, the question of hosting has remained a potentially confusing one for site owners not blessed with a background in system administration. The last five years have a seen an emergent wave of hosting providers offering managed solutions targeted specifically at WordPress, each one promising to lift the hosting burden from already over-taxed site owners.

In this post we’ll explore why managed hosting could be a good fit for your business and run the rule over five of the leading providers.

Please note: We do recommend BlueHost and WPEngine and receive a small commission from both of them if you signup from our page. However our recommendation is purely based off their high level of service and included features.

Before we get going though, let’s briefly recap the standard set of hosting options site owners are usually presented with.

A Brief Overview of Standard Hosting Options

WordPress site owners have traditionally been faced with three basic options in terms of managing their own hosting. We’ll look at them in ascending order of complexity.

1. Shared Hosting

Shared hosting is often the first port of call for those new to the hosting game. With offers as low as $2.99 per month, it’s a tempting option if you’re on a strict budget.

As with anything else in life however, you get what you pay for. By its nature, shared hosting means that your site will be sharing server resources with hundreds – if not thousands – of other sites. Furthermore, you will be severely limited in terms of the level of server optimization possible.

2. VPS

VPS stands for Virtual Private Server, a virtualized slice of a larger machine that you can treat as your own server. This option is typically the next step up, once your site has outgrown the limitations of shared hosting.

On a VPS setup you will generally be free to install your own operating system and software on the virtual machine and tweak its settings to your specific requirements.

The potential gains in terms of power and configurability are offset by the degree of technical expertise you’ll have to bring to the table in terms of general IT and system administration knowledge.

3. Dedicated Server

If your site is heading into truly high-traffic territory, you may be tempted to rent or buy your own dedicated machine or network of machines. This will give you access to bare-metal servers that are entirely under your own control.

If you have dedicated system administration resources available, this gives you the maximum amount of power and flexibility at potentially the lowest cost.

Why You Don’t Want to Manage Your Own Hosting

Just as there are many excellent reasons for using WordPress as a base for your site rather than building your own CMS, there are a number of solid reasons for having somebody besides yourself managing your site hosting. Let’s take a quick trip through the more obvious ones.

Time

A constant question facing business owners – particularly in the startup phase – is where their time is most valuably spent. Is it really worth your while taking two days to configure an email server, for example, when you or your colleagues could be out closing leads?

Depending on your skill set, experience and available resources, even the simplest of hosting setups can chew up a considerable amount of time in terms of management.

Money

The minute you move beyond shared hosting, you will need to start spending potentially significant money on hosting. This could be in the form of the hosting itself, the type of paid expertise you’ll need to manage it, or both.

The majority of the services we mention below start at around the $25 per month mark for basic packages. This is slightly over the median hourly rate of a full-time system administrator (though low compared to freelance rates).

If you think setting up and administering your WordPress server will take more than one hour a month, managed hosting is probably well worth your while exploring as an option.

Staffing

Following on from the previous point, if you’re responsible for managing your own hosting, you are going to have to hire someone somewhere down the line.

This could be a freelancer or somebody in-house but, in both scenarios, you are looking at sourcing a skilled professional in a business-critical field in which you are likely not an expert yourself. This, to put it mildly, can be a fraught experience.

IT Knowledge

Unless you are already an expert system administrator, managing your own hosting is going to require substantially increasing your current level of general IT knowledge and skill.

This applies regardless of whether you are looking to take the task on yourself, or whether you are looking to hire it out. You may simply not have this time to spare.

Distraction / Opportunity Cost

The final point is really a combination of all the previous ones. When hosting goes wrong – and at some stage it inevitably will, no matter how short the outage is – it can quickly devolve into a fractal mess that dominates much of your productive time and energy.

Put simply, if you’re managing your own hosting, every problem is your problem – and potentially a critical one. By using managed hosting you take advantage of the fact that many of the issues that arise as a site develops – particularly relating to scaling – are essentially solved problems that the companies below have already invested considerable time and resources in being set up to seamlessly manage.

In summary, if you’re in a position to adequately address general system administration, backups, scaling and security in-house then, by all means, go for it. Otherwise – and particularly if you are planning a relatively conventional site that you don’t expect to crack the Alexa Top 500 anytime soon – seriously consider giving managed hosting a try.

Let’s move on now to a quick trip through five of the leading contenders in the market.

WP Engine

Founded in 2010 by Jason Cohen specifically to address the needs of the nascent WordPress-only hosting market, WP Engine has quickly grown to be one of the leading providers in the space with 220+ employees and over 20,000 customers.

They’ve attracted significant venture capital backing and host services for a number of high-traffic, high-profile sites such as ThemeFusion, Motley Fool, SoundCloud and WPMU DEV.

Packages and Pricing

WP Engine’s plans are tiered in such a way as to graduate you through a series of scenarios, from a small personal site up to a top of the range clustered solution suitable for large Enterprise clients.

Basic pricing is based more or less on traffic across the three initial tiers, while the higher-end options differentiate themselves primarily on the number of WordPress installs supported.

WPEngine Hosting Pricing Plans

Special Features

With a product offering at consistently higher price points than some of the options below, WP Engine stake their claims very much on the reliability and security of their server setup and their commitment to in-house innovation.

WP Engine also provide a number of educational resources such as a complementary eBook that outlines the benefits of their managed services to help guide your decision.

Their CEO’s recent speech about the WordPress hosting landscape and its attendant myths is also an interesting overview.

Who It’s for

If your WordPress site is already up and running and profitable, but you are experiencing constant problems with your current hosting provider and looking to migrate, WP Engine is worth serious investigation.

Bluehost

BlueHost will be familiar to many WordPress users as one of the only three hosting companies officially endorsed by WordPress.

Their managed WordPress hosting package is a recent attempt to offer their users a more finely-tuned approach to the platform than that of their standard shared hosting packages.

Packages and Pricing

Packages are differentiated primarily on the number of active sites that can be managed via the built-in ManageWP plugin.

Bluehost Pricing

Special Features

All packages boast automatic backups, an optimized Nginx/PHP-FPM architecture and integrated ManageWP and W3 Total Cache plugins. The familiar cPanel backend will also be simple to use for those coming from a shared hosting background.

Who It’s for

Users looking to upgrade from a shared hosting environment will be well served by both the familiarity of the back-end and Bluehost’s experience with hosting over one million WordPress installs to date.

Pantheon

Pantheon Hosting

Pantheon has its roots in the Drupal world but, since early 2014, has expanded its support to include WordPress.

Packages and Pricing

Pantheon’s packages are split out along four tiers, differentiated by monthly pageviews.

Pantheon Hosting Pricing

Special Features

Pantheon has performed strongly in comparative speed tests and won praise from prominent members of the WordPress core team for the developer-friendly nature of its setup.

Who It’s for

Pantheon is a strong contender for those with a development background looking to offload some of the heavy lifting of server administration.

WordPress.com

wordpress.com

It would be remiss of us not to give the company that started it all a mention.

WordPress.com from Automattic has been offering managed hosting since 2005 and currently serves more than 15.5 billion pages each month.

Packages and Pricing

Entry levels come in three basic flavors with the next step up being the significantly more expensive WordPress VIP options.

wordpress.com Hosting Pricing

Special Features

Though severely stripped down in terms of the amount of customization options on offer, you’ll benefit from a rock-solid set of core features, blazing fast load times and automatic upgrades.

Who It’s for

If you’re looking purely to blog and want minimal involvement with the back end and plugin or theme customization, it is hard to beat the affordability, power and simplicity of this option.

Conclusion

We hope we have helped steer you in the direction of the right managed hosting provider for your needs.

Every site is different, so some of the options above will be substantially better for certain use cases than others. Also, expect this space to get pretty crowded over the next few years as WordPress continues to gain market share as a platform.

If there’s a particular provider you’ve had experience with that you’d like to share, or if there’s a particular part of the hosting conundrum you’re looking for help with, feel free to get in touch in the comments below.

We’d love to hear from you!

How and Why You Need to Set up WordPress Backup

2018-08-31T14:52:43+00:00May 4th, 2015|0 Comments

Every WordPress guide that you will come across will recommend you to set up an automated WordPress backup system on your site. Why is it that everyone wants you to install a WordPress backup plugin? We will discuss that in this article. We will also talk about ways to install and setup a backup system, that doesn’t need your constant supervision and can work on its own once you set it up.

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