Spring cleaning for your Joomla site

Joomla spring cleaningSpring is here, at least in my part of the world. When living in a country with 5-6 months of winter and snow, you really appreciate the spring arriving! This winter has been a long one, and we've had snow since October! Fortunately, the snow is now mostly gone (where I live) and we're starting to see nature waking up again.

As always, when the snow disappears, it reveals the sins of the months past. It's time for a spring cleaning. Leaves, dust, things left in the snow during the winter and more will be swept away. Trees will be trimmed and houses cleaned. The city will again look its best. There's no doubt we need a spring cleaning in our houses and cities.

But how about your Joomla site? The spring is an excellent time to look at your site and determine if there's a need for a thorough cleaning there as well. My guess is it's long overdue ;)

In this post, I suggest some things you can do to clean up your Joomla site.

1. Update to the latest Joomla version

The most obvious thing to do is to check if you have the latest version of Joomla installed. My recommendation is to always install the latest patch update to the Joomla core.

Just last week, a company called me and asked me to fix their Joomla site. It had been hacked. Even though they'd restored it from backup, they didn't dare putting it back online, for fear of it being hacked again. It turned out they were on Joomla 1.5.15... The hacker had used a well-known exploit to hack the site. If they'd updated to the latest version, the hack wouldn't have happened.

I suggest using Sam Moffatt's Update Manager for Joomla to update easily to the latest version.

2. Check your installed extensions

The same thing goes for the third-party extensions you have installed. Take some time and go through them to see if they've been updated. To see the version number of your installed extensions, go to: Extensions -> Install/Uninstall -> Components / Modules / Plugins.

3. Do you have the latest version of your template?

If you're using a third-party Joomla template, you should check if it's been updated lately. Template developers like YooTheme, RocketTheme and Joomla Bamboo regularly update their templates and template frameworks. Sometimes there are improvements and bug fixes, sometimes there are security fixes related to an update of the Joomla core.

Most newer Joomla templates use template overrides. That means they override the component output from the Joomla core with their own code. If the Joomla core is updated with a security fix, you need to make sure the fix is done in the override as well.

4. Do you have a reliable backup routine?

Backup is one of the main concerns you should have regarding your site. Take the opportunity to check with your hosting company that the backup works as it's supposed to. Also, consider installing Akeeba Backup to have a separate backup unrelated to the hosting company. Having an off-site backup is crucial.

Read more about setting up a reliable Joomla backup.

5. Remove redundant and unused extensions and templates

Chances are, you have one or several extensions installed that you don't use. Maybe you just tested them once, and decided not to use them. Being installed, they are a potential security risk, as they're not updated and maintained. Remove them as soon as possible.

And, please remove any templates you don't use. Just like with extensions, outdated templates can include security holes that a hacker might try to exploit.

6. Consider upgrading to Joomla 1.6

If your site is a basic Joomla site without too many installed extensions, you might consider upgrading it to Joomla 1.6. Even if it has a number of installed extensions, you can check the list of Joomla 1.6 extensions over at the Joomla Extensions Directory.

Among the new features of Joomla 1.6 is the update feature, both for the Joomla core and installed extensions. That means you can update your installation and extensions from within the Joomla administrator (if the extension supports it). I've tested this feature with Akeeba Backup, and it works flawlessly. It really saves a lot of time when updating several sites.

Apart from that, Joomla 1.6 has several improvements. I'm not saying you should upgrade just for the sake of it, but take a look and consider if it's something you should do now. There will be a point in the future where you will have to anyway, when Joomla 1.5 reaches end-of-life.

So, that's my suggestions for spring cleaning your Joomla site. Do you have any other suggestions?

Please share in the comments below!

Read 12488 times Originally published on Thursday, 14 April 2011 10:17
Last modified on Thursday, 14 April 2011 11:09
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