website was down for 4 months due to parse error

I have a website that has been up for 3 years, we don’t need to visit it or update it anything so 4 months went by before we realized –
but recently found out a plugin that was set to auto-update caused a major parse error because the website was never really down I never got alerted to being down by the uptimerobot.

I guess I could check if the home page changes I’m sure there’s plenty of checkers, but is there something in WP it self that can alert me

How can I avoid this from happening again without disabling auto-updates —

  1. >*we don’t need to visit it or update it*

    You absolutely need to keep wordpress up to date at all times. WordPress, themes, plugins and PHP (and Apache/Nginx/Linux itself) frequently have bugs and vulnerabilities discovered (as you’ve now discovered) – updates are issued frequently for all software – you need to install those updates to keep your site secure and functioning. Run updates at minimum once a month – do it manually so you can observe the results.

  2. I usually do checks by change of screenshots of the homepage and also by search for text.

    Definitely do manual updates.

  3. I use UptimeRobot as well and the trick I use is to look for a keyword that would only appear when the content is showing correctly. It’s not enough to just ask “is the site up” because “critical error” screens may not be enough to trigger a 404 or 500-series alert.

    Also, this is the reason I always recommend making your own backups and downloading them to a local machine. A lot of website owners don’t check as often as we know we should (even me!) And even if your host provides 30 days of backups you might not notice a scrambled site till all the backups are broken too.

    Finally, a lot of the time you can recover from the sort of error you’ve run into by logging into the server and

    * renaming the html_public/wp-content/plugins folder
    * creating a new folder in wp-content called “plugins”
    * copying plugins one by one from the temporary folder to the new “plugins” folder
    * refreshing your WordPress homepage
    * repeating untill the site breaks again

    When the site breaks you know that’s the bad plugin. Or at least *a* bad plugin.

    What I’ll usually do then is login and re-add the broken plugin from the WordPress plugin directory or, if it’s a premium plugin, I’ll download a fresh copy and upload that.

  4. yes you do need to keep things updated.

    No you should not use auto-updates. You just gave proof of one of the many reasons.

    You could just login once a week maybe?


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