All You Need To Know About Drupal Site Maintenance

Posted by Mehul Shah on Jul 9, 2018 2:44:24 AM

You want your apartment spic and span. After all you live there. Follow the same for your website. That’s where your business resides. In this article, we have gathered the best practices for maintaining your Drupal site so that it shines like a new penny, even after decades of operation. 

Why maintain

A website is loved mainly for two reasons performance and security. A robust maintenance plan ensures that those two stays at the pink of their health.

You can never allow your site to slow down, even if you install new functionalities. If you keep the response time for your website within three seconds, you know that even if you lose a few visitors, you could still absorb the loss. But if your website crosses the three-second breakpoint, you would share the stand with 40% of all websites, whose visitors leave the site feeling frustrated. Doesn’t look that pinkish, isn’t it?

Status of a link is a major factor that helps in assessing the site performance. Visitors hate to get lost, hence they never liked “404 errors”. You may reduce a visitor’s agony by showing a snazzy 404 Error page in case they stumble upon a broken link, but that never takes away the bad taste the broken link leaves behind. To ensure that you don’t carry any broken link, you have to schedule a regular maintenance of your site.

Turn towards security. Drupal takes pride in it, therefore, they house an internal team that is constantly working towards offering better security updates. If you don’t work in sync, trust us, your visitors won’t with you either. No visitor will like to share their personal information with a site that’s irresponsible with their information.

Although you aren’t putting 10,000 versions of your site to test every day, you’re still playing your part to uplift your visitors’ experience. On a daily basis, your dev team is clocking substantial hours to build new features and functionalities. In the process, codes get appended and modified. As common practice taking a backup of your site will help in maintaining an operational version of your website up and running. Imagine the consequence if your site backup is not present and a code starts throwing back an error. Doesn’t sound like a promising thought?

Even though there is a direct connection between the losses and revenue, we deliberately haven’t touched the aspect as that would make the picture look too gloomy. With respect to revenue, all we would say, it’s smart to prevent the loss by budgeting some expense for maintenance, rather than not maintain and wait for the red bubble to burst.

How to go about

Maintenance plan

In today’s time, you can't afford to take a lineup of features or functionalities for granted, even during the business hours. That means you have to constantly monitor the performance of your website. But you can’t afford to do that as well, the task list of your team simply doesn’t permit any additional hours for checking the health of your site. In a catch 22 as such, a proper maintenance plan is your only trump card.

So you start off with defining the category of your site. If yours is a quite/lite website you may choose to maintain it every quarter. If it falls under the mid-market category you may choose to go for every month. But, if you are catering to a global audience and have more than one site to manage, then you may want to schedule a maintenance session every week or even every day. The plan also changes from one type of website to another. Take a look at the recommended maintenance cycle based on the type of websites in the below table: 

Type of Site

Weekly

Monthly

Quarterly

Government

 

 

eCommerce

   

Heavy publishing

 

 

Social media

 

 

Forums/Job Portals

 

 

Intranet site

 

 

Basic business site

   

Basic brochure site

   

Static content

   


All that it covers
 

A typical maintenance plan includes the following tasks:

      ο Security update
      ο Version update
      ο Bug resolution
      ο Hosting infrastructure maintenance
      ο Minor feature improvements
      ο Third party integration support
      ο Regression testing
      ο 360-degree monitoring and abnormality alerts
      ο Emergency support

While deciding upon a plan, either you have to figure out what type of maintenance is required, or you need to partner with a maintenance partner who’d evaluate your site and suggest the same. The reason is simple, the number of maintenance cycle directly correlates with the number of maintenance hours. That connects with the effort and the different types of tasks involved.

For example, if your site needs a maintenance support for 10 hours every month, then a monthly update may suffice. A complementary automated monitoring and a bi-weekly status call will keep you on top of everything and your site safe from hackers.

Now consider, your site needs 15 hours of support every month. You can expect the additional hours to be filled with regular code audit and weekly backup.

In case you need more than 15 hours, then you can expect everything that a typical maintenance plan has to offer. Not only the number of tasks increases the frequency of certain tasks increases along with it. For example, if site backup was happening once a week during a 15-hour/month session, now expect that to happen every day. If version update was scheduled for once a month, expect that to happen immediately when Drupal publishes an update and that too, as many times as Drupal publishes.

Key components

Disaster recovery plan

Whether natural or unnatural, disaster can strike any time. And when it does, it’ll impact the performance your site vis-a-vis your business. A disaster recovery plan is your bailout option from such a situation. Take a look at what may affect in case of a disaster:

      ο Drupal core and its modules
      ο Domain registrar
      ο Authoritative Name Servers (DNS)
      ο Database
      ο Uploaded files
      ο Web servers
As a part of your maintenance plan, your disaster recovery plan should take into account maintaining a backup of the above list. Those, along with stand-in server configurations and the complete website code will ensure that your business doesn’t bear the brunt of a disaster. All you need to oversee is that the backup happens at all the three levels: server, application, and content.

Security audit

Site security should be addressed proactively. Therefore, your Drupal maintenance team has to have a best practitioner who can identify what may break and take a call to prevent that much ahead of time. Decisions on server migration, site rebuilding, or Drupal reconfiguration will flow from her desk. Depending on the size of the business, therefore the site, the recurrence of the security audit may get modified. You can either schedule for a weekly or monthly audit. Irrespective of your schedule, keep a watch that your security audit has accounted the following:

      ο Core and contrib module modification
      ο Custom code review, with a focus on their vulnerability
      ο Implementation of captcha in forms to prevent spams
      ο Frequent security scan for malicious and common threats
      ο Automated testing of fresh Drupal checked for security compliance

Repairs and performance optimization

Maintenance is all about ensuring your existing site operates without any glitch. Although it involves a lot of modification and changes when your site hit a stumbling block, it mainly revolves around preemptive actions based on the constant monitoring. A regular check easily reveals an upcoming performance issue or bottleneck. This is what is taken care of in a planned maintenance. And that is what maneuvers your site away from the breakpoint to make sure that your business runs as smoothly as usual. 

You have chosen Drupal because you wanted a highly customizable SEO friendly solution that lets you easily integrate your site with social media platforms without compromising on the security. Although that sounds a mouthful, in reality, it’s not a lot. If you follow the best practices and keep maintenance as a part of your regime, you can get your site to perform with social platforms, keeping the hackers at bay. After all the White House doesn’t rely on Drupal for nothing.

Tags: Drupal, eCommerce

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