A client recently contacted me about their WordPress.com website I helped them with several years ago.
Their message was a bit alarming:
Deborah, my website page isn’t working. Call me!
This client isn’t on a website maintenance services contract with me, so I don’t regularly check his website.
Since his message didn’t give me much information about what was happening, I quickly visited his site.
Troubleshooting the Problem
Sure enough, his website home page wasn’t displaying correctly. It was missing all the content, except for the content in the footer.
I wasn’t sure what could cause that to happen on the home page, so I visited other website pages.
They seemed to display correctly, except the logo was missing on all the pages.
And several pages didn’t have the images I knew were part of his content.
When I called my client, I asked him when he noticed the issues. And asked what changes he made to his site before the problem appeared.
He replied he wasn’t sure what happened, but somehow more than two dozen images were deleted from his Media Library.
Aha! I knew what caused the problems with his site.
What Happened with My Client’s Site
When the images were deleted from the Media Library:
- His company logo no longer displayed on any page
- The Featured Image on the home page no longer existed
- Missing image thumbnails, small images positioned at the bottom of the home page, disappeared
Because the home page required a Featured Image for text to display, none of the main content on the home page displayed.
It’s not clear to me how my client ignored the warning message that WordPress provides when a user attempts to delete an image.
The warning message displays every time a user requests a file is deleted from the Media Library.
My client would have ignored each message for the two dozen images that were deleted.
How I Resolved the Issues on My Client’s Site
Due to a backup I had from when I launched the site, I was able to update the site with his company logo, and restore images to his site.
However, they were images from a couple of years ago, which he had replaced earlier this year.
It wasn’t an ideal solution, but the client had no option since he had no backup of the images he used on his website.
I chatted with colleagues about the issue and researched options for automating the process. Finally, I decided a change in workflow was the best solution.
Change in Workflow
When I turned over the site to the client, I gave a one-on-one tutorial on updating the site. I explained how to add text and images, and explained how to use revisions to recover earlier versions of a page.
But I didn’t discuss the workflow for managing image backup.
The client was on his own for image backup since I wasn’t providing any monthly maintenance services for his site.
This isn’t an issue for self-hosted WordPress sites, where some clients manage backup plugins/services to backup their entire site.
However, WordPress.com only offers backup services for their top-tier plan. Which is not the plan my client has.
What I proposed to the client was a change in their workflow.
Whenever he has a new image to upload to his Media Library, he’ll save a copy of the image to his Google Drive, in the folder named Website Image Backups.
That way he’ll always have a backup copy of his images. Insurance for the future, if something happens with images on his WordPress.com hosted site.
My client doesn’t update a lot of images on his site, so the extra step in his workflow isn’t a lot of extra work.
Until my client contacted me about the issues on his site, I never considered there would be problems with restoring images on a WordPress.com site.
With a change in workflow, saving images to an external site, my client now has a solution for restoring images.
Something I’ll be sharing with other clients when I recommend WordPress.com as a solution.
Have you come up with another solution for handling image backup in WordPress.com? If you have, share your solutions in the comments.