WordPress community: Helping to provide services online for people in isolation

With most Governments all over the world implementing further isolation practices in order to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus, many of us have found that the internet has become an even more essential and important tool in our everyday lives. It has allowed people to stay connected to loved ones, has reduced the risk of spreading the virus by letting those most vulnerable stay home and order essential products online and gave businesses the option of continuing to operate in some capacity through work at home programmes. 

With WordPress underpinning 27.5% of the World’s websites (with 50,000 new websites being added daily) and with many businesses now moving exclusively to an online ‘work from home’ model, the platform is at the forefront of keeping these services open and running smoothly. With continued business operations such a necessity, WordPress is having to quickly adapt to meet these new demands in order to meet the rapidly changing needs of it’s massive user base.

From a more practical perspective, WordPress cancelled WordCamp Asia back in February in response to the outbreak, while developers have built and launched a variety of plugins that are helping websites to share important information with their users. One new plugin that is helping is the CoronaVirus (COVID-19) Banner. This simple plugin allows website owners to add a banner notice to their website informing users of any COVID-19 related updates that they need to share.

Covid Banner in WordPress

The potential difficulties of working from home

While practical applications are indeed useful and can help spread awareness and up to date developments, more personal issues such as depression and loneliness will become an emerging factor for those who are experiencing working from home in isolation for the first time.

As many freelancers and self-employed small business owners already know, working by yourself from home can be both a blessing and a curse with freelancers reported to be twice as likely to be depressed compared to office workers. The effects of spending long days working alone has resulted in 56% of freelancers reporting to suffer from depression as a result of their job, with a further 62% saying they feel stressed due to the lonely nature of the work. This is compared to office-based workers, where less than 30% say they suffer from depression and 55% reported feelings of stress.

Stressed

Stressed while working from home

While working from home may be the dream of many who harbour thoughts of creating their own work hours and operating in a much more comfortable and familiar environment, there is also the downside of being starved of important emotional factors such as social human interaction (something we are biologically hardwired to seek out), personal contact and suffering from increased feelings of isolation and lack of community. This of course is on top of the extra anxiety and stress that has been created from the extra child care issues many parents are now facing, as well as having to ensure the safety and well-being of older relatives and loved ones.

In an effort to stem these negative emotions, organisations such as WPHugs have been established to provide a community for like-minded people to discuss these difficult topics in real-time. The WPHugs Slack channel is free to join via an invitation by registering at the WPHugs website and has the goal of providing community support to those who need help during these difficult times. While not a professional therapy channel, it’s founder Leo Gopal hopes that by crowd-sourcing tips, tricks and conversations, they can help to maintain good mental health amongst the WordPress community. 

Keeping the world running

With the majority of people being told to stay home and if possible do their shopping online, websites are seeing unprecedented levels of visitors and demand. With the extra millions of customers now ordering through online shopping channels for large stores such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrions, customers are facing a 3 week wait for their deliveries to be filled. While WordPress cannot do much about this massive surge in demand for groceries and delivery drivers, it has helped keep numerous big sites such as Microsoft News, Facebook Newsroom, New York Observer, TED, CNN, Time.com, The White House and the New York Post online and accessible to people looking for the latest news and information regarding the virus from local and national agencies. For people in isolation, these outlets are providing essential important information and news regarding the constantly evolving Government guides and plans for dealing with the virus outbreak. 

While many people are naturally adjusting to the massive change in their lives following the spread of the COVID-19 virus, WordPress has proved to be an amazing platform for evolving to the needs of its users and building a shared community. If you would like to share with us any of your stories regarding work isolation and stress and how you have managed to cope during tough times, please do so in the comment section below. 

The post WordPress community: Helping to provide services online for people in isolation appeared first on UpdraftPlus. UpdraftPlus – Backup, restore and migration plugin for WordPress.

Coronavirus: for the millions in isolation, WordPress sites are more important than ever.

Please share below how your WordPress site has been hit, or provides an important service at this time.

We know that many in the WordPress community will be badly affected by the global pandemic which is rapidly spreading across the world.  Even if it doesn’t affect your health, it may be damaging your online businesses and livelihood causing you a lot of uncertainty and concern.

For others, at a time when some countries’ physical stores are shutting, people are ordering necessities online more than ever.  Amazon this week is hiring 10 thousand more staff to help with demand in their warehouses, and has blocked taking on any more non-essential stock.  And if this is not happening yet in your country, then it may well be only days or weeks away.

Likewise, many of your WordPress sites will become more important than ever.  Whether you run an online store for hygiene products, an online pharmacy or grocery store, a health advice blog, or home schooling resources for kids out of school then they’re crucial.  Or if you run an online community so people can feel together even when they’re alone or simply providing entertainment to help people’s morale at a time when culture, theatres and concert halls are shut – you’re doing a great job, so keep it up!

So this is just to say we’re continuing business as usual here at Updraft.  The last thing you want to worry about at this time is your WordPress site’s basic functioning.  We’re here 6 days a week around the clock to provide support to those who need it for backing up and restoring.

Likewise, there are reports of the internet becoming slower as more people work from home on networks which are not designed for the level of traffic they’re getting.  So we’re also working hard on all your support requests at Updraft’s WP-Optimize Cache to make sure you make significant improvements to your website speed to help your customers’ experience.

We’re a team of 15 here at Updraft, distributed across 9 different countries and 4 continents.  As of this week we’re all working from home.  We expect that even if things get much worse over the coming weeks that there’ll always be knowledgeable team members on hand to help you with the plugin problems you have.

Please share below how your WordPress sites are affected, whether you’ve been badly hit or whether your site is providing an important service for those who need it right now.  Let us know!

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How to Backup a WordPress Site: Step by Step Guide

No matter the size of your WordPress website, finding a way to keep it safe from issues such as updates gone wrong, hacking, user error and crashes should be of the utmost importance. If you’ve not set-up regular backups of your site yet, now’s the time to get it done, and it couldn’t be easier with the world’s most trusted WordPress backup plugin, UpdraftPlus.

In this article, we’re going to show you how to backup a WordPress site with an easy-to-use, free backup plugin. Follow our step-by-step tutorial below to get started.

UpdraftPlus allows you to backup your WordPress website and restore it with a single click. It also allows you to:

  • Backup all of your WordPress files, databases, plugins and themes
  • Set backup schedules every 4, 8 or 12 hours, daily, weekly, fortnightly or monthly
  • Restore backups directly from your WordPress control panel
  • Store your backups remotely on Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive and more

In this article, we’ll show you how to set-up and use UpdraftPlus to backup your WordPress website with ease so you can get on with more important stuff.

What does ‘backup’ mean?

Put simply, a ‘backup’ makes a copy of the files or data on your site in case the originals are lost or damaged.

A backup of your WordPress website makes a copy of your entire database. It will backup every post, comment and link you have on your site, as well as your plugins, themes and uploads. 

Why you need to backup your WordPress site

Backing up your website regularly is an essential part of managing a WordPress website. Your site contains every post, comment and link you’ve ever created, if something were to go wrong, all of that could be lost in an instant. 

Without performing vital backups, your site could be at risk from any of the following problems:

Updates gone wrong

WordPress websites are notorious for needing regular updates to plugin files, theme and WordPress itself.

When performing these updates, there’s a small chance your site could be negatively affected by the changes. You could lose vital functionality, your site’s look and feel could change, or the new update could simply be incompatible. 

These updates need to be carried out to ensure the safety of your website and generally should be done on a testing site first. To protect your site from updates gone wrong, you should always carry out regular backups and automatic backups before each plugin update.

Your site is vulnerable to hacking

Due to the sheer number of people using WordPress as their content management system (it powers over 35% of all websites across the globe), the platform is the frequent target of hackers and spammers. 

You may feel like your site is safe and will not be a target for hackers because as it doesn’t contain sensitive information, but hacks can happen for any of the following reasons:

  • To spread malware
  • Using your site to attack another site
  • Spamming the internet with inappropriate links
  • Just for fun

In order to work, hackers have to find flaws in a system and exploit them to get around security controls. So if you have a weak passwords, don’t update plugins regularly, have weak security on your site, your site could be at risk.

By backing up your site regularly, you can restore your site to its former pre-broken state before the hack took place. 

Your hosting company may have server outages

No hosting company is perfect. In fact, you may have experienced your website ‘going down’ from time to time. This downtime (or server outage) can happen for a variety of reasons, including viruses and cyber hacking, traffic overload, hardware failure and more.

While you can’t control your hosting company’s server, you can protect your site if something happens. Many times, when server outages happen, your hosting company will be able to recover the lost files. 

However, on some occasions, they will have to revert back to a version of your site that’s a few days old. This could mean you’d lose vital changes to your site such as sales records and new member registrations. The only way to recover these would be through your personal UpdraftPlus site backup.

How to backup your WordPress site with UpdraftPlus

The easiest and quickest way to backup your website is by using a WordPress backup plugin. UpdraftPlus is the world’s most trusted WordPress backup and restore plugin and is simple and easy to set-up.

How to install UpdraftPlus

Installing UpdraftPlus takes just a minute or two and is as simple as adding any other plugin. To install, follow these steps:

  1. In your WordPress dashboard go to Plugins > Add New.

  1. Type UpdraftPlus into the search bar.

  1. Find the UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin and press Install Now and then Activate.

How to use UpdraftPlus

Once installed, UpdraftPlus makes setting up your first WordPress backup easy. Simply follow these steps:

  1. Select Settings > UpdraftPlus Backups in your WordPress menu. This will open your UpdraftPlus settings page.
  1. Select the Settings tab at the top.

Here you can schedule how often UpdraftPlus creates a new backup. You can pick whichever schedule suits you and your site. For example, if you regularly update your site with new pages and posts, then a more frequent backup may be required. 

You can also adjust how many of these backups should be stored at one time. Any new backups will then override the old ones.

  1. Select where you would like your backups to be stored.

Scroll down the page and you can choose where you’d like your files to be stored. UpdraftPlus can integrate with numerous remote storage options, so pick the one that suits you best. 

  1. Once selected, each storage option will have its own set of instructions. Simply follow these and press the blue Save Changes button at the bottom of the page.

If you’d like to backup to more than one location or want to customise your backups further, you can do so by upgrading to UpdraftPremium. Or purchase the add-on, Multiple Storage Destinations.

Now that you’ve set up your storage location and how often you’d like to backup your site, UpdraftPlus will automatically carry out your first site backup without you having to do a thing.

How to restore your WordPress site from a backup

Now that your site is regularly backed up, you’re safe in the knowledge that you can recover and restore it if something goes wrong. So when the worst does happen, how do you restore your site with UpdraftPlus?

  1. Go to Settings > UpdraftPlus Backups in your WordPress menu. This again will open your UpdraftPlus settings page
  1. Scroll down the page until you reach the Existing Backups section

  1. Find the backup you want to restore and press the blue Restore button
  1. You’ll then be presented with a popup which will ask you which elements of your database you want to restore. Select the ones that apply and press Restore

When your restore is complete, a message will pop up telling you the restore has been successful.

Roundup 

If you’re looking to keep your site safe from hacking, updates gone wrong and server crashes, then using a WordPress backup plugin is a must. As the world’s most trusted WordPress backup and restore plugin, UpdraftPlus allows you to do just this for free.

By investing in UpdraftPlus Premium, you also get the following added features:

  • The ability to clone your site so you can carry out updates in a testing environment
  • Schedule backups at specific times of the day to take advantage of when fewer people are on your site
  • Multiple storage destinations for extra safety
  • Detailed reports of your backups
  • Password protection for your UpdraftPlus backups to keep other administrators out
  • Automatic backups before updating WordPress core, themes and plugins

Get the best security for your website with the full UpdraftPlus package 

 

The post How to Backup a WordPress Site: Step by Step Guide appeared first on UpdraftPlus. UpdraftPlus – Backup, restore and migration plugin for WordPress.

WP-Optimize to release new Minify feature

We are happy to share with you that WP-Optimize will soon be adding an all new feature to our popular WordPress optimization plugin. In an upcoming release, users will soon be able to use an all-new Minify feature that will help make their websites run even faster.

How does minification work?

The minify process works by removing all the unnecessary characters from a piece of code, such as line breaks, white spaces etc. The minified code still works exactly the same as it did before the minification process, but the files now take up less space due to the removal of unnecessary information. This process has proved to have been very popular when being used on scripts, stylesheets and and other components on your website which can benefit from faster loading times. The Minify feature will further reduce HTTP requests to help speed up your site. This works by merging CSS and Javascript files into a group of files and attempting to use as few of these files as possible.

Our new Minify feature will be simple to use and intuitive. Most users just need to set it to default settings and let it do it’s thing. This new feature will be launched soon, so be sure to keep an eye out for it in an upcoming release of WP-Optimize

 

The post WP-Optimize to release new Minify feature appeared first on UpdraftPlus. UpdraftPlus – Backup, restore and migration plugin for WordPress.

How to integrate Slack reminder notification with WordPress

With so many different demands vying for your attention in modern life, it can be easy to lose track of the many important tasks you are supposed to carry out and hopefully be reminded of. After all, there is only so much a desk full of scribbled post-it notes can do to ensure you are reminded about something important, so there is a good chance you have forgotten about something recently. However, there is a way to get Slack to remind you of all these tasks as and when you require, and the good news is we are going to show you how to set it up!   

There can be a large number of things you may need Slack to remind you of. The who, what, when and why of a reminder is hugely important and can cover anything from setting a reminder of a meeting with your bank manager, submitting your travelling expenses on time or a reminder for a deadline of an important project coming up. The reminder example we will be using in this blog is setting up a “blog post Slack reminder” message. Though feel free to substitute this for any kind of reminder that is more appropriate to you and your situation.     

Given the importance of SEO, most people who run websites are aware of vital regularly updating and posting new blogs is. While the tasks needed to succeed at SEO are a closely guarded secret, we do know that regularly posting a new blog is a great way to move up the Google SEO ranking. As such, website owners may be interested in an app for Slack that will send a notification to your Slack channel if you have not posted a new article on your blog within the last 7 days. These reminders will hopefully help you manage your articles and blogs better and also help to remind you to publish them on time.

In this article, we show you how you can integrate Slack notification with your WordPress blog using an app you can create yourself.

Getting started – Create a Slack application

To get started, you first need to create an application within your Slack account. To do this, go to the Slack API page and hit the ‘Create New App’ button.

This will create a popup window. Complete your details requested and you will be redirected to a ”settings page”. In this settings page, click on the ‘Incoming Webhooks’ from the left section. Toggle this option to “On”.

Scroll down to the bottom and click on the ‘Request to Add New Webhook’ button. If you are not an Admin then you need to get admin approval to access this option.

Once the app is approved, click on the ‘Install APP’ from the left side menu. And then press the ‘Install App to Workspace’ button.

Choose the desired channel on the next page and click on the ‘Allow’ button. You will then be redirected to a page where you will get your Webhook URL. Copy this URL as you will require it shortly.

Send notification on Slack channel from WordPress

You are now ready to proceed as you have the Webhook URL and have also configured the Slack channel, where the notification will be sent. Next, you need to write a code that sends a POST request along with a message to the webhook URL. This webhook URL will automatically post the received message to the chosen Slack channel. 

So, let’s do some coding.

Calculate days when last article is posted

When sending a notification to the Slack channel, you first need to calculate days from when the last article was posted. The below code will go inside your active themes:functions.php file.

<?php

function get_daycount_of_last_blog_posted(){
   $args=array(
        'post_type' => 'post',
        'post_status' => 'publish',
        'posts_per_page' => 1,       
    );  

    $datediff = 0;
    $blog_posts = new WP_Query( $args );
    if ( $blog_posts->have_posts() ) :
 
 while ( $blog_posts->have_posts() ) : $blog_posts->the_post();

   $datediff = time() - strtotime(get_the_date());
      endwhile;
        wp_reset_postdata();
    endif;

    if ($datediff) return round($datediff / (60 * 60 * 24));

   return $datediff;
}

This code and method will get the last added post from the WordPress database and calculate the days between when you requested it and when the last article was posted.

Send POST request to Webhook

WordPress provides a function wp_remote_post() that performs an HTTP request and receives the response. Using this method we will send our custom message to the webhook.

Create a file notification.php in the root directory of your WordPress project and add the below code to it.

<?php 
require_once('wp-load.php');
$slack_webhook_url = 'YOUR_WEBHOOK_URL';
$last_blog_day_count = get_daycount_of_last_blog_posted();
if($last_blog_day_count > 5) {

 $msg = 'Hey team, our app found that we have not added new article on UpdraftPlus
 for more than 5 days. Please look into it.';

    // Prepare the data / payload to be posted to Slack
  $data = array(
        'payload'   => json_encode( array(
                "text" =>  $msg,
            )
        )
    );

    // Post our data via the slack webhook endpoint using wp_remote_post
  wp_remote_post( $slack_webhook_url, array(
            'method' => 'POST',
            'body' => $data,
        )
    );
}

This code will post a message to Webhook URL if a new article is not added for more than 5 days on your blog. As a result, you get a notification on your selected Slack channel.

Set cron on your server

Our goal is to create an automated system which will notify the team about this task on a specific Slack channel. Because of this, we created a PHP file in the root folder of the WordPress project. By setting cron with this file on your server, you can set up your Slack app to run automatically.

Setting cron on the server may differ on the basis of your hosting provider. For the sake of this tutorial, we will give an example on how to set cron on Media Temple web hosting’s CPanel.

Login to your CPanel. Select ‘Cron Jobs’ under the “Advanced” section.

On the next page, choose the ‘Once Per Day(0 0 * * *)’ option from the ‘Common Settings’ dropdown. This means the cron will execute the script once a day.

Finally, in the Command field add the below statement by adjusting your notification.php file path.

<pre>/usr/local/bin/php /home/xyz/public_html/notification.php</pre>

That’s it! 

By following this tutorial, you are now able to create your own Slack app for you and your team. This will certainly help everyone keep up to date with scheduled blogs and ensure you do not miss out on any important dates. 

The post How to integrate Slack reminder notification with WordPress appeared first on UpdraftPlus. UpdraftPlus – Backup, restore and migration plugin for WordPress.

Easy Updates Manager 9.0.0 and 9.0.1 released

We are pleased to announce an updated version of Easy Updates Manager with the releases of 9.0.0 and 9.0.1. The new updates includes a range of new features, tweaks and fixes.

As part of the update you will see that we have developed the main admin user interface. This gives the user a much more clear and easier way to use and make the most of all the features of Easy Updates Manager. The update also lets Premium users check for unmaintained plugins, so there will be no nasty surprises when a plugin that you rely on stops updating and potentially becomes unsecured.

We recommend the update for all Easy Updates Manager users.

9.0.1

  • FIX: (Premium feature) UpdraftPlus will only take one backup during the auto-update process.
  • FIX: Update translations after an auto-update has completed.

9.0.0

  • FEATURE: Admin user interface has been cleaned up, providing more straightforward options.
  • FEATURE: (Premium) Check for unmaintained plugins.
  • TWEAK: Constants can now be used to disable the outdated browser warning (EUM_ENABLE_BROWSER_NAG), the WordPress version in the footer (EUM_ENABLE_WORDPRESS_FOOTER_VERSION), and the ratings prompt on the General screen (EUM_ENABLE_RATINGS_NAG).
  • FIX: Prevent Force Updates from deactivating plugins.
  • FIX: (Premium feature) UpdraftPlus will now take a backup during an auto-update
  • FIX: (Premium feature) Fix cron schedules so they are run at the correct time.