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Our cheatsheet for diagnosing common WordPress emergencies.
What accounts do you need?
- Domain registrar (Godaddy, Namecheap, etc) – it’s where you registered your domain. In some cases, your domain registrar is the same as your previous webhost. If you can’t remember, try looking it up.
- DNS management (Cloudflare, DNME, etc) – if you don’t remember this, you don’t have it. We recommend all JVPS clients to get Cloudflare (it’s free). Learn how to change name-servers to Cloudflare or any other DNS service.
- cPanel account – was sent in your welcome email from us. Allows you to manage your sites, billing, and other webhosting functions. Usually accessed from cpanel.yourdomain.com, or yourdomain.com:2083. If your domain isn’t pointed, you can use direct server IP.
- JVPS billing account – also sent in your welcome email from us. Allows you to view profile/billing info, upgrade your plan, submit a support ticket, or view past emails from JVPS.
- FTP account – same user/pass as your cPanel. For hostname, use the server IP or your main domain name (only works after nameservers are updated from registrar). FTP allows you to manage files on the web server. You can also do the same from cPanel > File Manager.
- WordPress admin login – to manage your WordPress site.
- Webhosting Migration Preparation (checklist)
This information is useful for us (or other developers/contractors) to diagnose issues and work on your site.
2. Set up DNS
- DNS management (Cloudflare, DNME, etc) – if you don’t remember this, you don’t have it. We recommend all JVPS clients to get set up on Cloudflare (it’s free).
- How to change name-servers to Cloudflare or any other DNS server.
- Managing DNS records in Cloudflare.
- Recommended Cloudflare settings (and tips).
- Inviting members to your Cloudflare account.
3. Control panel (cPanel, CyberPanel, Plesk)
What can I do in my control panel?
- Add domains or subdomains
- Create new WordPress sites
- Create email accounts
- Create FTP accounts – how to create (and use) FTP.
- Create/manage databases
- Generate SSL certificates – go to SSL/TLS status, select domains/subdomains and click “Run AutoSSL”. NOTE: you must point domains to our server IP before you can generate SSL certificates.
- Manage cron jobs – use real cron job instead of WP-cron
- Check disk usage – see which sites, directories, and files are eating up the most space.
- Check traffic – AWstats is faster to diagnose certain things. Google Analytics is better for other things.
- Manage your JVPS account – view profile and billing info, upgrade your plan, submit a support ticket, look at all JVPS emails sent to you.
- Migrate accounts from one server to another (DEDI-VPS only)
Manage WordPress sites:
- Install new WordPress site from cPanel
- Migrate WordPress site to JVPS from another webhost
- Create a staging site
- Back up WordPress sites using BackWPup plugin, or restore backup
- Server Backups to S3 (for dedicated VPS clients)
- Setting up multi-sites
- Prevent updates
- Hack into your site from database – use phpmyadmin to reset admin password.
- Delete a WordPress site
5. Speed up your WordPress site
EASY tips to speed up your website:
- Use latest php version – keep themes/plugins updated for latest php version compatibility.
- Set-up caching – see our cache guides for Swift and LiteSpeed. Which to pick?
- Delete Revolution Slider. Use Metaslider (lightest) or SmartSlider3 (more features).
- Delete Contact Form 7. Use Caldera.
- Delete JetPack (although some WooCommerce sites may need it).
- Put redirects in htaccess instead of Redirection or YOAST/SEO plugins.
- Don’t leave Query Monitor (slows backend) or Broken Link Checker running. Deactivate when not in use.
- Clean up autoloads – decreases database weight on every page load.
- Convert all mysql tables to InnoDB
- You probably don’t need any security plugin (most suck).
6. Security (HTTPS, SSL, banning attackers)
How to set up security for your site:
- Install [FREE] Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates
- Set up HTTPS for WordPress – log into WP admin then go to Settings > General, set both WordPress Address (URL) and Site Address (URL) to “https” instead of “http”. You should also add the proper HTTPS 301 redirects in your htaccess file.
- Converting WordPress site from HTTP to HTTPS? – follow this guide.
- General security tips – don’t use same password for WP that you do for email/PayPal, keep themes/plugins/updates, remove unused themes/plugins, block XML-RPC protocol if you don’t use it.
- Security headers for .htaccess
- Got hacked? – repairing your hacked site.
- Blocking IP’s from your sites or servers.
7. PHP, memory settings
How do I make changes to my PHP settings?
- Change PHP version
- Change PHP configuration, php.ini (dedicated VPS) – memory settings, upload limits, execution times, etc
Use the latest PHP version (for best performance & security). If you have old themes, plugins, or code preventing you from using the latest PHP version…choose next latest version and keep going down until your site works.
How to do basic email functions?
- Manage emails – create accounts, forwarder, change password.
- Accessing your email via webmail
- Setting up emails with your email client (Outlook, MacMail, Gmail, etc).
- DNS records for JVPS emails
- Copy emails from old cPanel server (to new cPanel server) – use File Manager or FTP to access the “mail/domain.com/emailAccount” directories. From here, all you really need to copy are the new and cur directories.
- Create email forwarder – can be done from your control panel.
- Email deliverability issues – having problems sending or receiving?
For best email deliverability and spam protection, use 3rd-party email hosting (G-Suite, Office 365, Rackspace, Zoho, or MXroute). G-Suite is our fav for features, MXroute is our fav for pricing. Others are very good as well.
Want to keep your existing cPanel email setup but increase deliverability for emails sent from WordPress? Sign-up for (free) Mailgun account and integrate it with WP Mail SMTP plugin.
Those with deliverability issues on dedicated VPS, check your IP on MXtoolbox blacklist.
9. Miscellaneous tips
- How to save space – backup remotely, download ShortPixel backups to local computer and delete from web-server, delete error logs. Find/delete unnecessary files by clicking “Disk Usage” on right-side of cPanel (then scroll down and expand the directories).
10. Site is down
VERY TERRIFYING! We know! Please try the following:
- More troubleshooting ideas – did you install/update any plugin recently? Try disabling it by renaming the plugin directory from the “wp-content” directory.
- Potential Cloudflare issues – please do NOT enable “Rocket Loader” or page rules that cache everything. Leave SSL on default setting of “flexible” and not “strict”. Can put your DNS records on GREY CLOUD.
- System message? – if you haven’t paid your bills, please do and the account will be restored immediately. If you hit your bandwidth limit and support is not immediately responsive, please temporarily upgrade your plan (don’t worry, we’ll refund your amount while we diagnose where the issue was).
- ERROR 404 for pages that exist? – make sure your .htaccess has the default WordPress directives, go to cPanel > MultiPHP and select PHP version and click [APPLY], go to WordPress admin > Settings > Permalinks and hit “Save”.
- ERROR 500 or completely unresponsive? – check the error log (in your public_html or site directory). Contact support to see if there’s a server issue.
- Weird characters on white screen? – try deleting the “cache” directory inside “wp-content”.
- Need to disable caching? – try deleting the caching-related lines inside htaccess.
11. Dedicated VPS (cPanel, CyberPanel, Plesk)
- Migrating clients from other cPanel hosts – log into WHM (on new server), click transfer tool. Choose account method if you have only one client, or you can choose the full root method if you have multiple clients to move.
- Giving SSH access – importing SSH keys or enabling SSH password authentication.
- Server monitoring – get UptimeRobot.com