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What is Website Maintenance?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2016
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Website maintenance is an activity designed to keep a website running smoothly. It may be done on a regular basis, or scheduled as needed. In some cases, access to the website may be temporarily restricted while maintenance is performed, in which case a notice may be sent to users ahead of time to make them aware of the fact that the site will not be available during a specific time period on a particular day.

One reason to perform maintenance is to update the website. It is important to keep information up to date and to make sure that the systems used to run the site are also current. Having the latest programs on the backend will keep the website more secure, in addition to allowing people to keep up with changes. It will also improve user experience on the site, which can be very valuable for those that want to build and retain large user bases.

If a site is going to be disabled while it is worked on, it may be put into maintenance mode. During this time, a notice appears on the site explaining that it is temporarily unavailable, ideally with a note stating when the site should be back. During maintenance mode, major maintenance tasks can be performed without having to worry about keeping the site functional for users at the same time. This can include everything from changing a content management system to installing new tools on the site.

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Maintenance is also performed when there is a security threat. It may be done to close a security hole, to address problems caused by a hacker, or for a variety of other reasons related to security. In this case, it is important to take the site offline so that the problem can be fully explored without concerns about interference. Certain security programs may automatically launch the maintenance mode if they suspect that the site has been compromised to prevent further damage and to protect users from malicious events.

Regular website maintenance is critical to the function of a site. If people put off maintenance tasks, they may find that they have much more work to do when they do decide that it's time to update their sites. Many content management systems include built in maintenance functions that make it easy, such as automatic updaters that will fetch and install upgrades when clicked.

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Discuss this Article

allenJo
Post 4

Now and then I go online and do a search of what somebody thinks are the best websites in the world. These sites push the cutting edge for design and flow, and some of them incorporate the new Web 2.0 standards that incorporate things like widgets and gadgets that make a website more interactive.

Then I go look at the infamous Drudge Report, with its same old back on white, three-column newspaper style it has had for more than a decade. Yet, it’s raking in millions, whether you agree with its political views or not.

The point I’m making is that users are looking for information, period, and the best websites are those that present relevant, useable and updated information in the most straightforward way possible. That’s my take anyway.

Mammmood
Post 3

@David09 - The cardinal sin of website management is old content. Once a website loses its freshness, it becomes stale and ineffective. The one tool that I’ve found which helps is a content management system. That’s what our hosting provider offers.

Basically it lets you upload content and organize it without the need for intervention by a webmaster. Now that doesn’t solve the problem of creating the content. I still have to do that; sometimes I just outsource that task to a freelance writer.

But the content management system makes it easy for me to update the website once I have the content in hand. Like the website builder it’s easy, but of course focused on content and not design.

David09
Post 2

@everetra - Website maintenance has been expanded to include more than the technical aspects of keeping a site up and running. It also includes user interfaces which make it easy for the customer to update the website.

In this regard, the website builder in my hosting service is a breath of fresh air. I don’t have to mess with HTML or design anything on my own. I just pick a template and then use the wizard to design and build my website, step by step.

I realize some people consider the website builder to be a crutch. Yes, with a template your website design is not 100% original. But like you, I’m in business; I’m not trying to impress anyone with creative brilliance. I want to get a message out and get it out quickly, with minimum fuss.

everetra
Post 1

I once used a free website service for some time to host my site, then dropped it after a year. The reason was simple: poor maintenance. The site would be down several times a month, which may be okay if you’re just running a website as a hobby but not if you’re a business. I wanted at least a 99% uptime guarantee.

More importantly, they made some new changes to their service which wiped out some of my older content and I had to start new. I would also have trouble logging on and have to email support to get access. This is not profitable for a small business operation.

Finally I switched to a paid provider which offered solid servers, easy management, redundant backups and a 99% uptime guarantee. When looking for a hosting service, check their website maintenance plan; it’s more important than anything else.

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