Clean Up Leftover WordPress Plugin Database Tables

WordPress websites are made up of both files and databases. Have you ever tried various plugins to create a feature before settling on the one that works best? The chances are that you have bloated your database without even realising it. That’s why from time to time you should clean leftover plugin database tables

When you install a plugin it adds tables to your database.
The issue is that deleting the plugin doesn’t always delete the tables, it just deletes the plugin files.

So how do we remove all the unwanted tables left over in your database after trying out different plugins?
The easiest way is with the aid of another plugin (Typical right!)

Plugins Garbage Collector

Once you have this plugin installed you will find the settings in the dashboard under tools > Plugins Garbage Collector

Select Search non-WP Tables and click Scan then wait. Depending on the size of your plugin list, this only takes a matter of seconds.
You will then get a list of all the non-core tables still included in your website database. The tab on the right indicates if the database belongs to a now-deleted plugin.
If this is not clear enough, tables surplus to requirements are also in red. Green tables on the list indicate that they are still required tables.

From this point, you can click on the checkbox and delete all the unwanted tables. Certain plugins are notorious for leaving a table footprint behind them. WooCommerce is just one example as can be seen in the above image. So even if you have done the correct thing and deactivated and then deleted a plugin, it still doesn’t mean that you have completely cleaned the database.
In another post, we discussed another plugin that also cleans up your WordPress database.  This plugin is more for cleaning up unwanted revisions and spam comments etc but it goes without saying that both plugins used hand in hand are a good way to keep your WordPress database lean and clutter-free.

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WordPress 5.0 is nearly here!

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past year you will have heard all about this.
WordPress 5.0 is here and the release is imminent. But is it a good or bad thing?

Due for release on the 6th December, its certainly one of the most talked about updates in recent memory. This is all to do with the inclusion of a new text editor named Gutenberg. The new Gutenberg is set to replace the old text editor that we are all so familiar with.
It is a new block style editor that allows you more control over the editing experience. It allows for better design features in the layout, especially compared to the classic text editor.
You can see all of the features here
Having used Gutenberg in test mode, it’s really not that bad. Certainly not worth all the negative reviews from disgruntled users  However many people are adopting the “It wasn’t broke so why fix it” attitude.

So what to do if you are not sure? First off, Gutenberg has not been sprung by surprise. This has been in the pipeline for a very very long time. This has given plugin developers the time to work with it and make sure it is compatible with their products. But… we all know there are plenty of unsupported plugins out there and nobody can be 100% sure if they will work or not with WordPress 5.0.

If like many people you would like to continue using the old editor then do the following. Simply download the  Classic Editor Plugin before updating to 5.0.

The one thing I would question is the timing of the release. Many hosts auto-update WordPress and this is a time when many developers are not far off some Xmas holidays. There will be a lot of broken sites in the next few days. Most developers and agencies will have put the appropriate plans in place. Many people will not know and find out the hard way.

What to do?

The first thing I would advise is to disable the Auto Update feature in your hosts. This is not an option with every host but it is worth checking out. In most cases, you can disable in the Cpanel. If in doubt, contact the customer support.
It is always worth holding off on major updates for a few days. This is just a precaution in case anything on your site breaks. Just to clarify if the update is to patch a security flaw then that is a completely different matter.
For now, just hold off. You often see a flurry of minor updates from plugin and theme developers in the aftermath of a major WordPress release. This is simply fixing minor incompatibilities that have arisen.

The next step is to backup your website. This should be a regular process but just in case you may have forgotten, take a backup of everything! I like to use ManageWP for this. You can also use All in One migration or any of the other numerous backup tools.

All of the above is only advice and should not be taken as fact. There is every chance that the update will run smoothly for you, especially if you are using reputable themes and plugins. However its always wise to proceed with caution. I always advise to wait a few days before proceeding with updates, it just gives theme and plugin developers time to iron out any wrinkles. I will certainly be holding tough anyway!

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Get a free SSL certificate for your WordPress website

As of July 1st 2018, the need for an SSL certificate on your website has greatly increased. Websites without an SSL cert will be displayed as insecure. If you are accepting online payments and want a secure connection then read on to find out more. So how do you get a (preferably) free SSL certificate for your WordPress website?

What is an SSL certificate?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It is an internet protocol for ensuring secure data transfer between your website and your visitor’s browser. The information you send on the Internet is passed from computer to computer to get to the destination server. Any computer in between you and the server can see your credit card numbers, usernames, passwords, and other sensitive information if it is not encrypted with an SSL certificate.

How does it look on my website?

If you have then you are already sorted. Otherwise, you have and you need to apply an SSL cert

If your website has an SSL cert already installed then you will notice the Secure padlock to the left of your domain name.

Do I need an SSL certificate for my website?

SSL / HTTPS is recommended for all websites on the internet. It is especially required for websites that collect personal data such as sensitive login information, payment info and more.
Almost all online payment services require your website to use SSL/HTTPS if you wish to collect payments.
Google also prefers and rewards those websites that have an SSL installed, so it is in everyone’s best interests to comply. A website without an SSL cert will also have a notice to the left of your domain name saying “Not secure”. Nobody wants that for their website!

How much is an SSL certificate?

Costs vary as there are different types of SSL certs available. Pricing can be anywhere from $50 or $60 to $200 a year. Some SSL providers also offer add-ons with their certificate that you may (or most likely won’t) need.
Just a few short years ago, an SSL cert was not majorly important and only really used by the top websites. Most hosting companies charged extra for the service. Nowadays, most reputable hosts supply SSL certificates free of charge and build it into your hosting charges.

How can I get an SSL certificate for free?

Web hosts such as Siteground, WPEngine and many more supply for free.
If your hosting company does not offer free SSL (they really should) then you should consider moving hosts.
Getting a free SSL certificate for your WordPress website should be part of any hosting package nowadays.
You can find out more on our recommended hosts page.
If your hosts do provide free SSL then get in touch with customer support and they will enable it for you. With a lot of hosts such as Siteground it is a simple one-click process.
A provider called Lets Encrypt set up a non-profit project to supply free SSL certs. Due to popularity and its importance, they are now well supported by many major companies. However, you do need a bit of technical knowledge to implement a Lets Encrypt SSL certificate. (How-to post coming soon!)
For that reason its easier to go with a hosting company that supply them for free.

What to do after enabling a free SSL Certificate

This depends on your hosts. If they enable the SSL cert then they will most likely do this next step for you. You will need to ensure that your WordPress website is using HTTPS instead of HTTP in all of your URLs.
The easiest way to do this is with a plugin. Really Simple SSL is the plugin we use all the time.
Simply install, activate and the plugin will change your website settings.
While this plugin tries to fix all mixed content issues (all URLs must change from HTTP to HTTPS) there may still be files loading from HTTP. These are most commonly found in image URLs.
To help this you may need to run a plugin like Better Search Replace to ensure all URLs are correctly switched over.
A topic like SSL certificates is so broad and detailed that you could write a book on it, for that reason we have kept it short and to the point.
Hopefully, this post on how to get a free SSL certificate for your WordPress website answers some of your questions. If we have left anything out or you wish to know more, please comment below!



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Adding a Favicon to a WordPress website

A favicon, pronounced fave-icon is a small, iconic image that represents your website.
They are usually found in the address bar of your browser next to the page’s title.  A favicon serves to distinguish your website from others in a list of bookmarks. To add a favicon is a simple yet often overlooked feature.


Why do you need a favicon?

In truth, favicons are very little things and will not make or break a site. On saying that a favicon adds a degree of professionalism, it can be important for your online branding strategy. If you do not specify a favicon, your site may inherit a generic one from the web hosts. That means that your favicon representing your website is the same as many thousands of others.
In the example above, you will surely recognise some of the favicons. They make a website easy to distinguish and stand out from the crowd.

How to create a favicon?

Creating one is very easy. The recommended image size is 512px X 512px. You can use your brand logo or create a new one. If you have a rectangular logo you may be able to crop and adjust it to a square image.
This image could be in png, jpeg, or gif format.
There are many places to create a favicon. You can use paint, gimp,  adobe photoshop etc. There are also many sites such as  FaviconGenerator, Genfavicon, Favicon-Generator and many more. A quick google search will give you lots of other options.

Uploading the favicon to your website.

This is the easy bit! To add a favicon just click on Customize and you will find the option under site identity. Just upload the new image as you normally would and remember to click on publish.
You are now good to go.

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Optimizing Your Images

Is optimizing images worth the hassle?

It’s a common mistake, you take a beautiful photo, upload it to your blog but it slows down your page loading time right?

Images are essential for your website and research suggests that users are far more likely to stick around and read your content if the page is colourful and has eye-catching images.

The downside though is that if you are not optimizing images then you may be hurting your web page more than actually helping it.

In the last few years, as cameras have evolved, so has the quality of photographs and more quality can mean more detailed images. Depending on the type of camera you use and the settings involved, photos can be anywhere from 1000px wide to 7000px+ wide and can weigh in at well over 25MB.  This is why you need to really think about the size of the image that you are uploading to your WordPress media gallery. By default, WordPress will resize your images to 3 different sizes to speed things up for you as you create posts/pages.

Small (Thumbnail size) – 150 px X 150px

Medium – 300px X 300px

Large – 1024px X 1024px

The first thing to take into consideration is your layout. If you have a content/sidebar type page then it’s best practice to resize your images to the size required. Likewise, if you are uploading an image that is going to be used as a thumbnail  (150 X 150) then there is no point in uploading an image that is 1140 X 1140

Most computers have a resize function, Paint works well on windows as does Preview on a mac.
Gimp and Pixlr are two more free photo editing options.

We have used the following in the past

For paid versions, Photoshop remains the choice of many for any image editing. Another great tool that we highly recommend is Movavi if you are looking for a cheaper alternative to Photoshop.

It is also highly recommended running an image optimizing plugin on your site. This will compress your images without losing any quality but makes them significantly smaller in size. They will strip hidden bulky information from your images and reduce file size but most importantly not lose quality.

TinyPNG is an excellent plugin that is very simple to use. Available in both free and paid format it’s one of the more commonly used plugins and the free version is excellent. Moreso if you have a lower amount of images and no need/budget for the paid version.
Imagify is another good option, you are limited to a quota of 20MB of images per month with a free account, after this you cannot optimize new images until your quota is renewed or you purchase credits. 500MB of data (approx 5,000  images) will set you back $4.99 a month.
There are many more free options available which we will be adding to the list shortly.
Just to add, on this site we use ShortPixel. It produces some excellent results and I have no plans to change anytime soon.

Image optimization is an easy effective step you can take to improve your site from good to great.  Regardless of how many images you have, a small blog with a dozen photos or a gallery site with 5000 photos, it is very important to resize and compress your images correctly!

Another question often asked is JPEG or PNG? This depends on your needs. Preferably JPEGs for photos or images with lots of colour. PNG for simpler images with less quality or logos with transparent backgrounds.
Use JPEG if you have the option.

Just to hammer home the point, here are a few reasons that optimization is an important step to take.

Speed. Slow loading pages are a no-no for viewers, people simply give up and leave if your page loads slowly.

Google rankings. Site speed is a ranking factor in Google.

So make sure to factor image compression into your future work pattern, you will be surprised at the results!

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10 tips to optimize your WordPress website

Here are 10 tips to optimize your WordPress website. Please note that there are many other factors but if you go through the list and implement some of these changes, you should see an improvement.

These days, everything seems to be about speed and your website is no different. A fast loading website keeps visitors interested and is a plus factor to rank better on search engines.

10 tips to optimize your WordPress website

1 – Select a good host.
This is an obvious one but still needs to be said. A good hosting company is the foundation for a solid site. Some hosts have rubbish shared hosting (if that is what you are after) and others have excellent shared hosting. I always recommend Siteground for affordable fast hosting. Click here to read a bit more about hosting

2 – Update your PHP version.
Some hosts automatically default to a lower PHP version such as 5.6 but for the fastest technology, you should be on at least version 7 or higher. It’s worth noting though that depending on what plugins you use (especially older unsupported ones), some sites may not be compatible with the latest PHP version. For that reason, I would recommend taking a backup before updating to the latest version. In most cases you will be ok, I just don’t wish to be blamed for a blank screen! Read more about how to update manually.

3 – Cut down on videos.
Videos convert they say. This is true but they also can be a drain on resources and a slow loading site will lose visitors. Also sometimes videos can distort on mobile view. So while everything looks good on a laptop, it may not be so visually appealing on a smartphone. Try and use Gifs or convert to images if possible.

4 – Image compression.
These days cameras and phones take incredibly detailed photos. The problem is that these images are loaded with information, heavy on detail and need to be trimmed. There is no point uploading a 3000 x 3000px image if you only want to use it for a 150 x 150px thumbnail. Resize accordingly. Install an image compressing plugin, there are free and paid available depending on your requirements. Read more about image compression here

5 – Minimize your requests.
Check your website details at The fewer requests you have the better. More requests mean that the different components of your page take longer to download. The cause of this is usually down to excess plugins. Check on GTmetrix or a similar site like webpagetest. Deactivate a plugin and retry the test to identify slow loading plugins. You may have a very slow loading plugin that adds a very basic feature to your site. It’s up to you if you need to keep the plugin or find a workaround.

6 – Reduce plugins.
Ok, so this and point 5 kind of go hand in hand. In the development phase, you may be testing different plugins and their features. Some you will need, others you will not. Always remember to deactivate and delete unused and unwanted plugins. Not only is it a possible security issue but there’s really no need to keep a selection of plugins for no reason. The number of plugins won’t necessarily slow down a site but a poorly coded plugin will. Also if you ever hand the website over to a developer in the future, they may find it difficult to assess which plugins are being used and which are not.

7 – Minify and combine files.
This is another topic which relates to point 5. Combining your HTML, CSS and JS will definitely reduce your number of requests. You can learn to do this manually or with the aid of a plugin. Autoptimize is free and very popular. There are also many paid plugins such as WP Rocket, CometCache etc.

8 – Caching.
A cache plugin stores data from visitors. Information about the layout and CSS of your site means that the next time they visit, the old cached data is at hand to speed up load time. There are a lot of these on offer, both paid and free. WP Fastest cache is a good free option as is Autoptimize (mentioned earlier). WP Rocket and CometCache are my two recommended paid plugins. Click here to read more about caching and the plugins that can help you

9 – Use a CDN.
A Content Delivery Network will serve up your website from different parts of the world so the website loads fast for a visitor, regardless of where they are located. Cloudflare is free and a very good option. Click here for more CDN info.

10 – Get rid of unnecessary content.
This one pretty simple. quality over quantity all day long. There are no plus points for having pages and pages of clutter. Combine if possible and keep content short, sweet and to the point!

Hopefully, the above content will help you in some way. If you can only implement 2 or 3 changes then you should notice a page load improvement. There are obviously other factors that can help but this is a good start.

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Best WordPress caching plugins for speed

You will know by now the importance of speed on a website and a caching plugin is a very simple yet powerful tool that should be installed on every site. But what is a caching plugin and why do you need it? We look at some of the best WordPress caching plugins for speed and how you can use them on your website.

As Google now factors site speed as part of their algorithms to determine where to rank your site in their results pages, site loading time is more important than ever.

That’s where caching plugins step in.

So what does a cache plugin do?

A cache plugin stores data from visitors. Information such as the layout and CSS of your site means that the next time they visit, the old cached data is at hand to speed up load time. In other words, a visitors computer will remember that it was on your site previously and won’t need to load all the information from scratch.

This is where caching plugins come in. There are a vast array of plugins, in both paid and free versions. Like anything, you usually get what you pay for. However, some of the free versions are perfectly adequate and will do the job just fine. Premium plugins such as WPRocket require a yearly fee but have many extras over a free plugin.

Which is the best caching plugin?

There is no definitive answer to that one as people everywhere vary in opinion! In nearly all cases though you will find the same 5 or 6 plugins are nearly always mentioned. I will list them below, in time I will (hope to anyway) write a little more on each one and how to configure them. If you are in doubt, test one out. Go through the settings, in most cases, the default settings are perfect to begin with. Its a simple matter of installing, activating and make sure the plugin is switched on.

Popular Caching Plugins

(Not in any order of preference)


CometCache is one of the best and fastest free caching plugins. Its very simple to install, more or less plug it in and let it do the work. The premium version offers a few extras and is reasonably priced, especially for developers. You can find more information directly on their official website

WP Rocket

With some 400,000+ installs, WPRocket is easily one of the most popular caching plugins. It is a Premium (paid) plugin. A single-site license costs $39, a three-site license $99, and an unlimited license can be yours for $199. (All prices for 1 year)

W3 Total Cache

W3 Total Cache is a free plugin. With over 1 million active installs and 4.5/5 stars on the WordPress repository, it is certainly popular. It is trusted worldwide by the likes of AT&T, Mashable and countless others. Very easy to set up, its no wonder why this one is so popular.

WP Super Cache

2 million+ active installs tell you all you need to know about this plugin. With a rating of 4.3/5 stars, this is a plugin that always pops up in lists of best caching plugins. It is especially effective at slowing your server down and not crashing the site if you have a sudden spike in visitors.

Simple Cache

One of the easiest of all the caching plugins to set up. With no complicated settings and technical jargon, you simply install, activate and there’s an on/off button. It doesn’t get any simpler than that! Oh and its free too!

Swift Performance

Newish to the market this is a caching plugin that is attracting a lot of fans. The setup wizard is foolproof and you will see instant results. The free version is very powerful, the premium version is better again. Premium includes image optimization as well as other features such as a plugin organizer and more. Well worth a visit if you are looking to speed up your website.



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Cerber security

It’s well known that you can never have enough security on your website regardless of how it’s built. Security measures are vital as the biggest websites in the world can be vulnerable to attack. Despite the overwhelming evidence, it’s an often overlooked and forgotten feature that is reasonably easy to implement.
That’s why a plugin like Cerber Security & Antispam is very useful to have and even easier to set up.
You will find it in the usual WordPress repository in the dashboard or here if you are interested in reading a little more about it.

The out of the box default settings are more than adequate for most sites but there are further configurations if you require them. The plugin will automatically white label your IP settings. Click here if you require further help with this. In my experience, it almost always sets up perfect but this can vary (depending on your host).
There are a host of settings to play with. Here are just a few

Enable a custom login page

To hide the default wp-login.php WordPress login page from attacks, specify your own hidden custom login URL and turn off wp-login.php. Remember to add this URL to your caching plugin of pages not to cache.

Specify prohibited usernames & IP addresses

Go to the plugin users admin page and add names that should automatically be prohibited. Common names like admin, administrator, editor, user and test are the most commonly used names by hackers.

Enable Antispam protection

Cerber Security & Antispam is compatible with most form builders. On the Antispam page, there are a host of settings and you can also set up reCaptcha (recommended)

The above 3 are probably the most important features that really excel in this plugin. You can always visit the plugin page to learn about other features. The default settings are perfect for most websites, especially if you are not yet up to date on security measures.
In the Cerber dashboard, you should see it working a bit like the image below.


As you can see from the image, Cerber Security & Antispam has restricted bots probing for vulnerable PHP code. I also attempted to log in to the site using “admin” as a username and it blocked my attempt. (Our IP address is edited out)

There is also a Traffic Inspector which gives you detailed information on your visitors.
Weekly reports containing the week’s activities are also sent to the registered email address.

This is an excellent plugin and frequently updated. Out of the box, settings are perfectly adequate but the options are also there to further save your site from hacking attempts. It’s well worth reading a bit more about Cerber Security & Antispam and the features this plugin offer.  It’s one of those plugins that should be part of your default WordPress setup.

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