Keep Your WordPress Blog Running Smoothly and Reliably

This post is might sound over the head of your average WordPress blogger but trust me, if you can click a mouse, you can turn your sluggish and bloated WordPress into the lean and reliable blog you’ve always wanted.

If you have a WordPress blog with a few years on it, there is a good chance that you have a messy database. Every theme, plugin or tool you add to your WordPress installation can leave behind a unhealthy handful of orphan database entries.

Ironically, often times these orphan entries come from a plugin or theme you have removed in an effort to speed up your blog. Sadly, many themes and plugins don’t leave your blog as clean as they found it. Sometimes these orphan entries come from theme and plugin updates or even blog settings and customizations.
Database Edits

Just today I did a cleaning of my blog which resulted in my database shrinking by 11.3 megabytes, a decrease of over 50%. This removed 4,122 orphan entries in my database. To accomplish this I used two must have plugins. Continue reading

WordPress Twenty Twelve Livefyre Conflict Resolved

Big thanks to two Twitter friends who took it upon themselves to solve what was to me a major issue on my blog. I explained it in an earlier post but basically comments took up twice as much space as they should. That made for an ugly comment section.

Turns out the problem was two fold. First WordPress’s Twenty Twelve theme simply puts too much space between comments. The second problem was a CSS conflict with Livefyre was double-nesting all the comments, thus doubling the space taken up. Five comments in a row would end up taking ten comments worth of space. So the solution? Much easier than I thought!

Lines 1-5 prevent the double-nesting of comments (or so I’m told via @onebrightlight). LInes 6-12 close up the space after each comment and lines 14-16 remove the extraneous lines WordPress insisted on adding to my blog. The last bit of help came from @BigCloudMedia. He later went on to help me close in the extra space on my sidebar between items. How kind!

So now my comments issue is fixed and my sidebar spacing issue. Thanks Twitter, but especially thanks to Christopher Kennedy and Big Cloud Media.

WordPress Twenty Twelve Comment Threading Issue

Click to enlarge

I’m not sure if this is because I’m using Livefyre to manage my comments or maybe it’s a fault of WordPress’s Twenty Twelve theme but ever since I moved from Twenty Eleven, my comment threads have added space between comments and again in between each thread. This doubles the length of my comments on the blog and makes for messy comment reading experience.

You can see an example of this with the image on the left. The areas in purple are the wasted space. It wastes so much space that I had to shrink the image down so you could get an idea of how much space it is wasting.

I have threading turned off in my WordPress settings.

I’m no CSS expert, this is no secret. I can get a theme and hack it together into something I like but normally with the help of qualified friends like David. I’ve asked on Twitter a few times but no one has responded with a suggested solution. The image to the left is a screenshot of the post for my Nutella Ice Cream Recipe, if you want to see the problem for yourself.

Maybe you guys can help in the comments, on my comments. How meta is that?

Amazon Killed the Internet

Tonight, these sites and perhaps hundreds more died. At least temporarily.

Amazon's AWS servers went down effectively disabling Netflix, Tumblr, Instagram, Woot, Pinterest, Skype, Zynga and more

The Internet was ablaze (almost ironically) tonight when a massive storm on the East Coast caused a power outage that affected Amazon’s “Amazon Web Servicescloud server system. AWS is what power so many sites and services these days. It’s their reliability, scalability, cost and speed that have so many startups jumping to their system.

Tonight became Survivor - Startup Edition

Tonight became Survivor – Startup Edition

However, tonight highlights what happens when you rely on a single fail point. What’s the adage? “You’re only as strong as your weakest link.” Well tonight it was a single Amazon server location’s power outage that has many of the most popular sites offline. Amazingly, Twitter is not one of the sites shutdown.


Once the power is back on, or once Amazon starts shifting bandwidth and syncing servers, all of these sites will be back up and running. What’s disappointing is that even though Amazon has tons of servers all over the country, it only took one power outage to cripple their system.  Continue reading

Leaving PowWeb Over Malware Attack

Malware is evilApparently my site, as well as 30,000 other WordPress sites, became a victim of some type or malware or virus. For around 24 hours this site, and every other site I hosted on this PowWeb account, was totally shut down.

How this attack happened, I’m not really sure. My host insists it was an FTP attack which would also mean it wasn’t a WordPress vulnerability, so take me off that list of 30,000 sites.

However, my host refuses to tell me how it happened, when it happened, all files/directories affected and how they plan to prevent this from happening in the future. My username and password for my FTP server are secure, I almost never log into my FTP server and have not used any of the notorious leaky FTP clients.

So it’s after several months of downtime induced by high traffic to my site, and this latest hack, that I have decided to once and for all, leave PowWeb for greener pastures. I am currently looking at Media Temple and LiquidWeb as replacement hosts. They both seem to be far superior, if not at least far more expensive.

I am also planning to write an article on how I secure my WordPress sites. Even though this one was apparently hacked, it wasn’t because of the numerous WordPress security holes, it seems it was the holes in my host’s security. Somehow I managed to not be one of the thousands of WordPress blogs hacked this week! So there is an upside huh?

How to Automatically Backup a WordPress Blog

The other day I had a friend ask me for a best practice in backing up his self-hosted WordPress blog. At some point his blog crashed and he lost just about everything. This is no good, especially when backing up and restoring WordPress has become so easy!

I follow a rule of data security that no data is secure until it lives in three different locations. For my blog that looks like this.

  1. Original file on my computer
  2. Copy on my portable external drive
  3. Copy on Drobo as the archive

The fail here is that at any given moment, two or three of these might be in the same place. If I’m at home with my laptop, my portable hard drive and my Drobo, and my apartment blows up, I’m done for. Your third space should be someone in the Cloud or some other safe online backup location away from your other backups.

For my blog it is much easier. I use two plugins, WP-Database and UpDraft to do daily and weekly backups of my MySQL database and the actual files behind my blog. In addition, my host provides daily, weekly and monthly backups.

Here is my backup structure.

Most hosts will only backup your website files, not your database. They leave this up to you. But with a blog, all your most important content is probably the posts which live in the database! Let’s learn how to create a fail-proof* blog backup. Continue reading