Okay, I’ll be first to admit that garbage is a harsh word here, but hear me out.
Think of it as stuff you don’t use and is just taking up space. Kind of like your garage. Or maybe your basement or spare room. There is stuff we just don’t need to keep in the WordPress dashboard of our online store if we are not using it.
Let’s look at a few of these.
Lingering Product Shots
How often do you upload an image that you decide not to use? Or maybe they are images you used as placeholders when you built your site or added product pages. In any case, often we just leave them lying around in our media library. And that takes up space. Each image is saved at several sizes. You don’t need them on your server or mucking up your library when you are searching it.
Think of it this way. If you had a brick and mortar shop, would you leave stuff you are not using languishing in your back stock room? No, I suspect you would keep that nice and clean. So when it comes to your media library, try to delete any image you decide not to use.
Themes that Didn’t Do the Trick
I admit, I have a problem with hosting companies that add a slew of themes to your dashboard on install. It’s convenient at first because you can bop around and try them all. But if you leave a bunch of themes hanging around in your dashboard, what happens when they become outdated? They might not crash your site, but they are silent bombs just waiting to go off. You might ignore the fact that they need to be updated, or were abandoned by the developer. In the long run this could cause a security issue with your site.
Delete any themes you aren’t using. And if you have someone else do the site for you, ask them what you need to keep.
You can always upload them again if needed. I typically keep an extra as a backup if my current theme dies on me. And typically, that will be latest default theme that comes with WordPress.
Plugins & Extensions
Inactive plugins and extensions are no different from themes and I’d follow the same course of action. Even if you think you may activate one in a month or so, still delete it. Because more often than not it will just sit. As I said before, you can always upload it again.
Those Admin Users who Are No Longer Needed
Now I’m not talking about all the subscribers to your blog here. Or your customers. I’m talking about the people who built your site or maintain your site. You may have given them access to make any necessary fixes. Or perhaps there was a theme or plugin developer who needed access to help you with an issue. You assigned these people as administrators. If they are not needed, delete them. But before you do, just in case they created any pages or posts and are assigned as authors, when you delete them, make sure to assign back to yourself. In this tutorial, I show you how to do that safely without losing anything.
Also, be careful, if you have a blog with guest authors. If you delete them and they still have posts on your site, those will go away as well, so you’ll need to assign them to yourself.
Always keep track of who you give access to—and when you don’t need them anymore. Most importantly, when you do give administrative access, do not give them your username and password. Create a new user name and password specifically for them.
Another option is to use a plugin that gives temporary access like this one.
In the end, even if you think you can trust them, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Odds and Ends
An online site can build up stuff very easily. There may be orders that are cluttering your product page. They might be test purchases you or someone who helped you with your site did. Also, there is your database. With all of your media, inventory and orders, your database can become massive. There may be things in it that could be deleted, which would allow your site to run even more smoothly.
I would recommend finding someone to help you with that part of it unless you are sure you can do it. Because one minor slip could screw things up majorly and even bring your online store down.
Backup, Clean Up
If you are running an online store, you should have a reliable backup in place. I would recommend backing up your store in a couple of places, on and off your server. Many hosts now have automatic, daily backups as well an the ability to manually backup your site. An example of this would be the host we use, Liquid Web. And if you are wanting to use a plugin, I highly recommend BackupBuddy. In any case, before you do some serious sweeping up and throwing away, back up your site. Just in case you accidentally delete some golden nugget that causes chaos.
So clean the garbage out. It’s something you should start making a habit of— from here on in.