wordpress

Post image for Site Performance Optimization: MaxCDN, Nginx, CloudFlare and WordPress Caching

My blog has a problem. Or rather it had a problem but I’m making some big improvements to it to make it perform better. For many years, my site has suffered from slow performance. Much of that is my fault though. I tend to overload WordPress with lots of plugins. Plugins are bad, but they are in many ways, quite addictive. There are so many innovative features and functions that you can add to your blog using them that people often suffer from plugin-bloat. And having too many plugins will slow the responsiveness of your site way down. As I said, this is bad, particularly in the eyes of Google who measures how quickly your site responds in its ranking algorithms. So, in order to combat these performance problems, I recently turned to a performance-enhancing cocktail to make my site a bit more performance optimized: MaxCDN, Nginx, CloudFlare and WordPress caching.

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Just to set some expectations here, this article is NOT a how-to post on any of these items. It is more of an outline of some things that you can do to optimize your site. If I were to walk through step-by-step of each and every item, you would either be bored to tears or have to scroll endlessly through a 10,000+ word article. There are many how-to articles out there on how your can configure each of the items that I mention below. But, from my perspective, what I view as critical is actually implementing one or all of my recommendations.

The topics that I’m covering are:

  • Using a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
  • Moving from Apache to Nginx as your web server
  • Utilizing CloudFlare
  • Enabling a WordPress caching plugin

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Post image for How To Back Up Your WordPress Blog The Hard and Easy Way (DIY vs. blogVault)

If you are a blogger, probably one of the worst things that can happen to you apart from writer’s block is having your blog crash or the server that it is on get corrupted in some way. Technology is imperfect and Murphy’s Law always manages to find us one way or another. If suddenly all of your writing and your site were to disappear, how quickly would you be able to recover? Hours? Days? Weeks? Ever? Seriously, think about this for a second. Unless you are handwriting things or saving copies of each and every blog post, you probably would have a lot of trouble recovering your work. And most of us who manage a WordPress blog tend to highly customize our installs with custom themes and plugins, not to mention have comments on all of our articles. Do you have all of that backed up?

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For the past few years, I have been doing manual backups of both my WordPress server files and my WordPress database. There are a few nice database backup plugins that automatically create backups for you, but you still have to download those backups and store them somewhere. That takes time and bandwidth. And since I tended to back up my blog files about 1-3 times a month, I have my computer clogged up with those various versions (which I do delete periodically). Wouldn’t it be nice if there were services that did this for you? There actually are, and I tested out one recently called blogVault (note: affiliate link) and I couldn’t be happier with the results. But, I wasn’t about to put my blog backups in the hands of just anyone. Before I did, I had a bunch of questions that I asked the founder, Akshat Choudhary which you can see below. After that, you can view my walk-through and review of blogVault (which is now currently backing up HighTechDad.com)

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Interview with blogVault Founder

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Post image for 5 Reasons Why You Should Repurpose Old Content from your Blog

I have often been asked: why the heck do you have those automated tweets of old content coming from your blog? What is the reasoning? They are outdated and might not be topical, could be viewed as out of context and, in my case, might be talking about technology, products or services that are over a year old.

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Think about it, you pour you heart into every article you write and you want to have the world consume and hopefully enjoy your content. So, you write it and post it and then move on to the next piece of juicy content. You do this every day/week/month and over the years, you amass quite a nice set of articles. But who really goes through your site and hits the “previous article” button? It doesn’t happen that frequently. And if they do, it is probably for just a few articles. Or, people browse within a category to see your thoughts and ideas about a certain subject matter. But for the most part, once your content is there, it gets buried and lost in the archives.

Of course, search engines are your friends, so assuming that your articles have good SEO (Search Engine Optimization), have included good keywords, descriptions and have a catchy title, you could get visitors to your old content simply by the means of searches. For example, if I look at my Google Analytics for the past 30 days, some of my top content is pretty darn old:

HTD-old-content

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htd_wordpress_jailRecently, some high-profile blogs that are running WordPress have been hacked or hijacked by malicious users (e.g., TechCrunch). The worst thing is having to try to recover from such an event, you not only have to repair your site, but also your reputation. So, spending a little bit of time trying to prevent or at least make it a bit more difficult for a hacker to take over your WordPress blog is time worth investing.

I have had my fair share of my blogs (both work and personal) getting attacked (denial of service attack, hidden iFrames in my code, SQL injections and my server repeatedly being hit with brute force SSH login attempts from overseas). I have learned a lot from over 5 years of blogging, however I am by far no expert in the security field. But, what I can do is provide a growing list of tricks and tips as well as plugs that you can use to make your WordPress blog a bit more secure. This is not an exhaustive list nor have I personally implemented everything that is on here. I simply wanted to provide a list of items that you can do that may make your blog a bit more difficult to crack. Some security is better than no security, in my opinion. If a bot or hacker spends too much time trying to get in, they will hopefully move on to find something different and easier.

A Word of Warning: Do note, having many plugins running will degrade the performance of your WordPress blog. Some of the plugins run only on demand while others are present and running all of the time, so your mileage may vary. Also, some of these plugins might not work well together. Lastly, a few of the items below require you to have SSH access to your WordPress environment or server. You may have restrictions in place by your hosting provider as well.

The List of WordPress Blog Security Measures

  1. Do Regular Backups – back up not only your database regularly but also be sure to take a full copy of your entire WordPress directory. A great WP Database backup plugin is “WP-DBManager“. What I do is run a DB backup and then do a complete file backup since the DB backup is within your WP directory and will be copied when you download.
  2. Scan Your Files for Oddities – I wrote a post on how you can scan a local copy of your WordPress files to find code injections or iFrame. There are also some plugins that can help with that like “WordPress Exploit Scanner” or “AntiVirus“.
  3. Change Your Password – make it something difficult to figure out. Don’t use numbers in place of letters because everybody does that. Use special characters.
  4. Rename Your Admin User – there are a couple of ways to do this. You can do some MySQL commands to do it or you can use a plugin to do it for you. Either go into a MySQL manager like phpMyAdmin and rename the user “admin” to something else, or run a command like:
    update tableprefix_users set user_login='newuser' where user_login='admin';

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WARNING: WP-Polls WordPress Poll Plugin Can Be Exploited

December 21, 2009

Last week, I ran a giveaway which, because of a variety of reasons, I had to cancel and declare “null & void”. While I won’t go into the details, I did want to bring some actions to the forefront, especially if you are using the WordPress plugin called “WP-Polls” which is a great plugin that […]

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Fixing Blank, Empty or White WordPress Pages after Upgrade

June 10, 2009

Just a few hours ago, WordPress 2.8 was release to the general public (for the self-hosted version). I was notified within my admin portal and, after I did a quick database backup and downloaded all of my blog’s files, I clicked on the upgrade button. After a few seconds, WordPress told me that everything was […]

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How to Move a WordPress Blog from One Domain/Host to Another

March 18, 2009

Over that last couple of days, I have had the “pleasure” of moving a blog from one hosting provider to another (not that difficult of a task) but ALSO changing domains in the process. While I don’t think this post should the definitive set of instructions, it is a combination of information that I read […]

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