Setting up a website is become easier day-by-day. Whether it is paying for hosting or buying a template or installing a CMS, everything now requires just a couple of clicks. However, there are some things which are unavoidable and must be followed as a set of best practices to keep your website and web hosting account in good health.
Virus and Malware Scan
Adding this to your weekly maintenance check list is a must. Scanning your entire hosting account for virus and malware activity will help you stop a disaster in time. Although most of the time you will see that you account is clean, sometimes, in public upload folders or in incoming mail attachments you may notice a trigger being set off. Cleaning up these infections will help you to avoid more maintenance in future. As they say “A stitch in time saves nine”.
Resource Usage Check
Some hosts allow you to see your Resource usage on the shared hosting server and also show you how much of RAM, CPU and Apache Processes your account has used in the past few days. This can be a key factor in diagnosing issues and understanding how your website performs under different conditions. Noticing irregular behaviour at an early stage can avoid a major outage of your account. One of our clients noticed a large spike in CPU resources every night. Upon further investigation he identified a runaway rsync script as the cause. This avoided his site being throttled or limited by the server software. Checking the resource usage atleast once in 7 days is a good practice.
We don’t need to say this, but taking regular backups has hurt no one. Not only should you take backups for an emergency or downtime, but taking backups before each modification to your website will allow you to revert to a backed up version in case your code gets corrupt or your programmer goofs up. Before installing anything new or updating your CMS version be sure to take a backup. Spending a little money on backup will save you hundreds of dollars when you really need to go back to a previous version of your website. As a standard practice, you should backup your entire account atleast once a week preferably at off-peak hours. Download the backup on a remote machine.
You will be surprised at the amount of updates you will need to carry out on your website, especially if you have a database driven CMS. WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and other similar CMs systems push out updates atleast a couple of times a month. with auto installer software, updating is a piece of cake and can be done in seconds. However, you must also understand the implications of every update on your website code and customizations to the system. Ideally you should check for new updates every 2 days, so that a critical security flaw in your web app can be quickly patched before it is exploited by hackers or malware.
Your web hosting control panel will definitely have the ability of showing you the activity and error logs of your account. These can be especially useful when you want to diagnose an error or understand your web apps behavior. An additional utility of the logs is to detect patterns of suspicious activity and timings of such behavior. Logs can help you avoid a major problem by showing you the patterns of the activity that you really want to know. An ideal interval for checking logs would be atleast once a week. Checking the visitor logs, apache error logs and any custom logs that your CMS generates can be extremely helpful.