Website Management and Website Maintenance: Visual Review of Your Site

Daily website maintenance is a key part of website management
by Lori Bratz

picture of maintenanceNow that you have your website, you must take care of it. Proper website management includes a simple daily check of your files and file structure by simply opening your site directories and taking a look inside.

Specifically, you’re looking for script files (primarily php files) that hackers can install easily once they get access to your main hosting server. Those sneaky little buggers redirect traffic to their web servers and to their client’s sites. Nasty. Nasty. The occasion of hackers just breaking your site for fun is rare. It’s all about stealing your traffic.

So, go ahead and open your files and take a look. I like to use a file management tool because it gives me a nice visual way to check my files each day. My personal favorite is FileZilla. What is FileZilla? To quote Wikipedia: “FileZilla is free, open source, cross-platform FTP software, consisting of FileZilla Client and FileZilla Server. Binaries are available for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X. It supports FTP, SFTP, and FTPS (FTP over SSL/TLS). As of 18 April 2011, FileZilla Client was the 7th most popular download of all time from[1] FileZilla is free and you can download it here.

  1. Launch your FileZilla software
  2. Log into your site. You will need your site name (or your site IP address if Godaddy is your host), your FTP username & password. Set the port to 21, or just leave it blank.
  3. Physically view each directory for any new files.
    1. The date on the files will likely flag suspicious activity. If you check each day then you should be able to see with your eyes if there is a new file in one of your directories by simply noticing that there is a lone file with a date that is different from all the other dates.
    2. Most likely, it will have a very silly name, as well, like johnfranklin dot php.
    3. Be sure to check your image directories.
  4. Check your htaccess file! The nastiest of hijacking files are hiding in your htaccess files. Unhide those and peek inside. If you are not the administrator on your server you’ll need to contact the sys admin to get help with this. You don’t go into your htaccess file often, possibly ever unless you have password protected one or more directories.

So there you have it. You can use a script to check your files, but if you’re a small business with one site and you aren’t a techspert, taking a look with your eyes is a simple way to check your site. And if you do it often, it’s not much of a chore at all.