UpdraftPlus support for Linode Object Storage

UpdraftPlus is always searching for new and reputable partners that we can recommend to our users. With websites and databases getting larger and larger, reliable cloud storage is one of the most important factors to consider when setting up your site. 

Linode is the largest independent open cloud provider in the world, with 10 global data centres worldwide that serve over 800,000 developers and businesses and offers valuable cloud services to new innovators, growing teams, startups and larger enterprises.

The company has taken the lead in open cloud provider services and has been at the forefront of innovation, making cloud services more simple, affordable and accessible. It also works well with UpdraftPlus as you can use Linode S3 compatible Object Storage for all your WordPress backups, big data and data archiving needs.

They offer a wide range of object storage and pricing plans for your needs, ranging from just 250GB, up to 10TB.

For in-depth details on how to use UpdraftPlus with Linode Object Storage, please read this guide.

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The massive UpdraftPlus Black Friday sale starts now

It’s that time of year again; when Black Friday shoppers start to check websites and seek out the best deals available. 

So this Black Friday shopping season, we highly recommend you avoid the packed shops and high-streets and take the significantly safer alternative of staying home and ordering your favourite items online.

With such high demand for these deals and following the massive success of our Black Friday event last year, UpdraftPlus have decided to extend our Black Friday offer so that it now starts on Monday 25th November and runs right through till the end of the month, making our massive Black Friday offers a week long event!

We have put together a whole host of amazing deals and for one week only, everyone can now get any or all of the following Black Friday offers:

20% off UpdraftPlus Premium subscription. Use the code: BFUDPlus20Site

20% off MetaSlider Pro: Use the code BFMetaSite20

20% off Easy Updates Manager: Use the code EUM20SiteBF

20% off WP-Optimize: Use the code: WPO20BlackFridaySite

20% off UpdraftCentral: Use the code: CentralSite20BF

20% off UpdraftClones: Use the code: BFClone20Site

All discount codes are valid until the end of November 2019.

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Should you use a free WordPress theme for your website?

Choosing the right theme for your site is a vitally important part of creating a great website. Visitors will judge your site immediately based on how it looks, functions and responds to different screen sizes and types. So what are your options for getting a great theme?

You could create your own custom theme of course. There are numerous plugins that can help you tweak your WordPress theme so you can add your own graphics and design elements. While this gives you the most creative freedom, it is also the most difficult option to go with.

Another option you could go with would be to purchase a WordPress theme from a reputable developer, which can be a great choice if you have a decent budget for your website and prefer to get your site up and running as quickly and efficiently as possible to a really high standard. Going with this option also gives you the benefit of having a built-in strong and reliable customer support system, which can prove quite useful for troubleshooting issues.

The final option when creating your WordPress site is to use a free WordPress theme. There are thousands of free themes available online, but should you really use one? To evaluate the possibility of using a free WordPress theme, we must first consider the pros and cons.

Are free themes really good enough?

Typically when we hear that something is “free” in a business sense, it typically suggest that the product is either not good enough justify a fee, or that you will receive a shell product that forces you to upgrade to the full, paid version. When a product is made that is something users would really desire, it stands to reason that the owners will monetize this product to capitalize on customer demand. 

Lots of great developers create WordPress themes as side projects and offer them to users for free. This is typically due to the creator to generate more interest in their broader portfolios. Users just need to be discerning and fully evaluate any free theme of interest before use

Free themes are less likely to be updated

A theme doesn’t necessarily need updates in the same way that a security plugin would as a theme is more about the look of a site and as such is less affected by changes to functionality. Despite this, there is a good chance that a theme could eventually run into problems due to a future WordPress update. This update could potentially change a core part of the navigation system, or cause an installed plugin to have a conflict with the updated theme.

Theme creators that charge for their work with paid themes are typically invested in the theme’s continued success and positive feedback. If an update to WordPress or a conflict with a plugin cause the theme to break, the developer will typically take action to fix it very quickly in order to maintain positive feedback and ratings. Since theme developers who give away themes for free do not collect any revenue, there is very little reason to continue to work on them. This allows the developer to simply ignore the free theme if they do not feel it was worth any further time and money to fix it. Due to these issues, using a free theme can carry some element of risk to it.

Changing themes

It is not unheard of for a premium WordPress site theme to cost up-to several hundred dollars. If you choose to make this kind of investment, you should ideally use your purchased theme for a long as possible -making the cost worthwhile. So what do you do if an update comes along and objectively makes your website and it’s theme worse? Or say for example, you want to update the company theme as your sense of style has developed and you want something more modern?

If you have a paid theme that is no longer performing to the standards you need, you can either try to make the most of your investment and stick with it (generally a bad idea), or you can bite the bullet and replace it and spend more money on a new theme. If you are using a free theme however, you do not have to justify moving away from your paid investment/spending more and have the freedom to change themes for any reason.

It’s harder (but not impossible) to stand out

Coming up with a design for your site that makes it stand out is an essential part of building a memorable website. The standard website formula is everywhere, which generally means you won’t want to deviate significantly, but will need to do something special to catch the users attention. If you are using a free theme, you will almost certainly be using a theme that has a style and format that is accessible to everyone and has been used by many sites.

However, given the sheer amount of free themes available, it is still possible with some through research and digging, to find a great-looking theme that hasn’t been overused by other sites. If you are working on a budget, it is still possible to get a slick and attention-grabbing theme that stands out, while while adhering completely to your brand’s design guidelines at zero cost.

Experiment with themes safely

When you apply a new theme to your site (be it free or paid), it can possibly cause issues with plugins that are installed and running on your site. We have all heard horror stories of someone updating a theme that completely destroys their site, with no ability to restore the site back to an earlier version. This is a great reason to install a plugin like UpdraftPlus.

By making regular backups of your WordPress site (something you should be doing regardless), you will not have to worry about theme changes causing any issues. Simply activate your new theme to test it. In the very unlikely event that it causes a problem that can’t be resolved simply by disabling it, you can just restore your site from a backup before the installation.

If you can afford to purchase a premium theme from a reputable developer, this should always be your first option as it will provide you with continued security, development and customer service. However if you are on a budget and feel that your website can be properly serviced by a standard free theme, then just ensure that you obtain it from a reputable vendor, has a good user rating and has no history of clashing with WordPress plugins.

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UpdraftPlus release latest 1.16.20 (free + paid) version – Includes ability to restore “more files” backups

Our goal this year has been to make restores great again – and as part of that goal, we have now added the ability to restore “more files” backups (files that are not part of your WordPress install, but that you may still wish to backup, such as directories on your web-server). Some time ago, UpdraftPlus added the feature to backup more files, however this has always been a manual restoration task. But now, thanks to the latest version of UpdraftPlus, these backups can now be automatically restored. 

With the imminent release of PHP 7.4, we have added support for PHP 7.4 to UpdraftClone, allowing you to now easily test your themes, plugins and other changes on a 7.4 clone before upgrading to your live server. 

With WordPress 5.3 also being released soon, we have updated our clone process, allowing the new 5.3 release to be tested using UpdraftClone. We have also made it easier to create clones of your sites by adding the ability to use existing remote backups for your clone; so now there is no need to create a new backup for a clone if you feel there is no need.

In addition to these new updates, we have also made various tweaks and fixes to keep UpdraftPlus running smooth and compatible with future WordPress and PHP releases.

  • FEATURE: Add support for PHP 7.4 in UpdraftClone
  • FEATURE: Added the ability to restore “more files” backups
  • FEATURE: Add OneDrive Germany compatibility
  • FIX: Failure to send existing translation version with update checks (on paid versions) resulted in redundant translation updates
  • FIX: Deal with a BackBlaze “first chunk too small” error correctly when doing chunked uploading
  • TWEAK: Block any updates from occurring during a restore
  • TWEAK: Force the predecessor Amazon S3 SDK to use virtual-hosted style bucket identification instead of path style
  • TWEAK: Refactor the remote storage logging code in Addon base v2
  • TWEAK: Removed the Keyy notice (Keyy now has a new owner)
  • TWEAK: Add WP 5.3 support in UpdraftClone
  • TWEAK: On paid versions, possibly adjust the daily update check time to favour overnight hours
  • TWEAK: Get UpdraftClone supported WordPress versions during authentication
  • TWEAK: Added the ability to use backups stored in remote storage for UpdraftClone
  • TWEAK: Small PHP 7.4 deprecation tweaks in the Google and legacy AWS SDKs

The post UpdraftPlus release latest 1.16.20 (free + paid) version – Includes ability to restore “more files” backups appeared first on UpdraftPlus. UpdraftPlus – Backup, restore and migration plugin for WordPress.

How to increase website speed with WP-Optimize plugin

How to increase website speed with WP-Optimize plugin


How to Increase Website Speed with WP-Optimize Plugin

Faster website speeds can play an important role in the success of your website. The faster your website’s speed, the higher it can rank in search engines; which can attract more visitors, reduce bounce rate and help increase visitor to customer conversions. As a website owner, the speed of your site should be right at the top of your priority list.

To increase website speed there are a few techniques you can apply, including image compression, caching and database optimization. There are no end of plugins available that can individually help compress your images, optimize the database and cache your site. In the past you would have needed to install a separate plugin for each of these tasks as there was no single plugin available that did all these jobs.

Thanks to WP-Optimize, this has now changed; You can now get all the above features in one handy plugin. No more headaches from using and maintaining several different plugins and hoping that they have no security problems. With WP-Optimize, you can just install a single, secure plugin on your website and increase your site’s speed dramatically.

Before using the WP-Optimize plugin

To measure the site’s speed before and after optimization on our test website, we will use the Google Pagespeed Insights and GTMetrix speed measuring websites. When our test website is run on these services before using the WP-Optimize plugin, we get the following scores.

Using the WP-Optimize plugin

To start the optimization process, first install and activate the WP-Optimize plugin on your website. After activating the plugin, go to WP-Optimize->Database. You will find several default options selected by the plugin that should be optimized. 

As with all optimization procedures, it is always recommended to first take a backup of the database backup before running the database optimization option. Once the backup is complete, press the ‘Run all selected optimizations’ button. The plugin will now start removing orphan records from your database, resulting in reduced database size and better server response time.

Next, head over to WP-Optimize->Images. Turn on ‘Automatically compress newly-added images’, to make sure any image you add later will be compressed. Under the compression options, you will find 3 choices where you can select your preferred compression choice. For the purposes of this test, we will choose the most popular option – ‘Prioritize retention of detail’, which saves space, but maintains higher image quality.

If you scroll down the page, you will find a list of your uncompressed website images. Image compression will reduce the size of the images, resulting in a smaller page size and thus a higher page speed score. 

Click ‘Select all’ and then press the ‘Compress the selected images’ button.


The WP-Optimize plugin will start optimizing your images using the external service reSmush.it or Nitrosmush. You can choose either service from the ‘Show advanced options’ drop-down. By default, reSmush.it will be the service selected.

When you check the site score on Pagespeed Insights, you will notice the recommendation for ‘Defer offscreen images’ – the recommended lazy-load technique. 

Lazy-load is a technique that defers the loading of non-critical resources (images, video) during page loading. These non-critical resources are instead loaded at the point when they are needed (e.g. when the user scrolls down the page). If possible, this technique should be employed as it will definitely speed up your website.

To enable this feature in WP-Optimize, go to the ‘Lazy-load’ tab and select the checkbox for ‘Images’ and ‘iframes and Videos’ (should you have any on your site) and press ‘Save settings’.

Next, set up the cache feature within WP-Optimize. To start, go to WP-Optimize>Cache. Within the ‘Page cache’ tab, turn on ‘Enable page caching’ and select the option for ‘Generate separate files for mobile devices’, if your website has a mobile specific theme. 

Don’t forget to save the changes

The following Gzip compression and static file caching should be done before enabling cache. Gzip compresses the requested resource before sending it, resulting in smaller file sizes and faster loading. Enable this option in the ‘Gzip compression’ tab.

Finally, enable the browser static file caching settings in the ‘Static file headers’ tab. By doing this, it advises a visitor’s browser to cache non-changing files for a period of time so that it doesn’t attempt to retrieve them upon every visit.

After using the WP-Optimize plugin

Now we are done setting up all the WP-Optimize settings, let’s check our test site’s speed score on Google Pagespeed Insights and GTmetrix again. This will evaluate your site’s performance and should give a better score compared to pre-optimization results.

Conclusion

With just these few optimization techniques, the test site’s Google page speed has improved from 48 to 65, while the GTmetrix score has improved the PageSpeed score from 34% to 49%, YSlow score from 53% to 75%, fully loaded time from 4.2s to 3.7s and total page size from 4.04MB to 3.10MB.

When it comes to WordPress, site optimization is a hugely important step to perform before your launch your site. A properly optimized site will not only give your visitors a better user experience, but also help you succeed online. 

By using the WP-Optimize all-in-one plugin, you can get all the essential features needed for optimizing your WordPress website. Get a copy of WP-Optimize today and increase your website speed and let us know your feedback in the comment section below.

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New slideshow navigation with the latest MetaSlider update

New slideshow navigation with the latest MetaSlider update

We have been hard at work on a new update for the most popular WordPress slider on the market – MetaSlider. 

We are continually making the effort to improve all aspects of MetaSlider, from adding new ways to navigate slideshows, to adding extra checks for REST enabled sites. 

Be sure to check out the change-log below for a full list of features, tweaks and fixes in this new release. 

Check out the change-log below. Other new features for this new release also include:

Change log

3.15.1

  • FIX: Adds better check for slide image thumbnails and count
  • FIX: Updates $ to jQuery on the admin settings screen

3.15.0

  • FEATURE: Adds a new way to navigate slideshows
  • TWEAK: Adds various accessibility enhancements to FlexSlider
  • TWEAK: Adds extra checks for REST enabled sites
  • TWEAK: Updates notices
  • FIX: Updates various RTL language styling issues
  • FIX: Fixes bug where new slides wouldn’t crop until pressing save
  • FIX: Fixes various layout breaks from other languages

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