September 14

This Is The Real Reason That WordPress Backups Matter


Just today a client’s brand-new website broke.

He hadn’t even finished it yet. We were working on the final changes but when I logged in this morning I noticed that the front page wasn't working.


Just like that the site was all jacked up. It was still there but it wasn't functioning properly.

Since he is my client, it was my issue to resolve and I wanted to share my maintenance process. In a situation like this, I wind up going through a series of "If / Then" statements with myself.

Question 1: Did someone change something?

First, I emailed him to ask if HE had made any changes to his site – what and when. He promptly responded that he had not.

My WordPress broken

Question 2: What was controlling the front page of this particular site?

Next, I logged into WordPress and check the general settings. I was specifically checking the "Reading" section to see what was selected for the front-page display.

(This particular client uses a WordPress plugin created by ClickFunnels. This ClickFunnels plugin is controlling his front page.)

When I got to the "Reading" section of his site, I immediately noticed that the ClickFunnels “notification of override” was not showing up.

Question 3: Was there a plugin update?

I hopped over to plugins in the WordPress dashboard and there were not any updates.

Because there were not any updates, I deactivated the plugin. Then I cleared the browser’s cache and reactivated the plugin.

Believe it or not, this often works. Sometimes things just hiccup and the plugin needs a hug. Sadly, that didn't work this time.

Then: Fiddle with the plugin settings

Yep, there comes a point where you just have to pull the levers and hit the switches to see if you notice anything wrong. So I did that for a while and often this works. Not this time.

Stop and think

Fixing WordPress Broken Site

So this is the moment when I have to stop and think through what I am seeing. Then it dawned on me that his site was set to have automatic WordPress updates and there had been an update that happened the night before.

Then: Check Plugin Site

The next thing I did was go check with the plugin website and see if they had a latest blog post about this issue in their support forum. No dice. I headed over to the developer’s website Twitter and Facebook pages. Nope. Finally, I sent in a support request to alert them to the problem.


I logged into his SiteGround hosting account and rolled back the WordPress update. Immediately his site was functioning again.


There had been a WordPress update to 4.6 and his site did an auto-update. This conflicted with one of his plugins and caused an issue. It took some time for me to troubleshoot the issue and realize that it was a plugin conflict.

While it took about 3 hours to go through all of the steps to find a resolution, we never worried much because we knew that his site was being backed up daily.

All is well. Now we wait for the plugin to be updated with a fix.

Would you like this kind of help on your site? That is what I do: WordPress Monthly Maintenance

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  1. This is a big help, Renee. When problems arise most of us cringe at having to figure out what’s wrong. Your process steps are a great model to use. Automatic updates seem like a great benefit but the plug-ins can take a while to catch up.

  2. Wonderful insight into how the process of a developer works, Rene! Thanks for sharing. Yes, my person automatically backs up my site and saves a copy anytime there are new updates etc. Some of my plugins unfortunately are not being managed and updated by the creators of them, so we know all too well how it just might be a plugin when something goes wrong. After one WP update all my sliders and banners disappeared and I was able to figure out where to go to reactivate them. Site maintenance does seem to be an ongoing process indeed!

  3. I have someone just like you who manages all the technical stuff. You are right. It looks easy from my side, but I do know it is not. Bless you, Kittie Walker and all the other folk who love & know how to do technical stuff.

  4. A few months ago an automatic WordPress update resulted in the “white screen of death” (what a name!) on my site. Thankfully I have a son who knows how to fix these things – I’m clueless – and he came to my rescue. You are right, it seemed like magic. He made sure when I first started my blog that I knew how to backup everything properly.

  5. Now I’ve seen your zone of genius, Renee! This was a great description of your process, and you actually make it sound a bit fun, so I guess you’re a genius writer as well! I’m so impressed!

  6. Oh yes… plugin updates are usually infamous for making things all jacked up… and it helps to know who updated and what they updated so you know where to start. The other thing is that this is a GREAT reason why you give everyone their own user names so you can tell who does.

  7. Hi Renee,

    Thanks for sharing how important it is to make sure you are staying up to date on all of your updates within WordPress and other parts of your website because one little tweak with one of those moving parts can totally mess up your entire site! I know better now :) Great reminder!

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