Over the last 20 years I have probably made more money from troubleshooting than anything else. Troubleshooting is the key to doing any type of repair or maintenance work, in any field.
In most cases software is developed to solve problems. Some problems are just to increase productivity or make a process easier, but solving a problem is the start of almost all development. And since blogs are nothing more than CMS software to allow the non programmer to develop their unique “weblog” or “website”, the processes are the same.
“A problem well defined, is half solved”
When you are faced with a problem on your blog I would recommend a few simple steps.
- Keep a backup of your files. I use a 4 GB thumb drive, and I File Sync it to a folder on my PC drive. That way I have 2 copies at all times.
- Before you change a file, make a copy of it. I usually make a copy and clearly mark it. If I am changing single.php I will copy it using the original name and current date, such as, single-20070110.php. On a desktop PC the easy way to do this is right click, copy, paste. The OS will automatically name the copy as such. This makes going back a snap.
- What was the last thing you changed? 9 times out of 10, a simple change can cause an unexpected problem somewhere else. If you keep track of your changes (see #1 & #2), it will be easier to “backwards engineer” the problem. Undo the last change and see if that caused the problem.
- Google it, I know that sounds like a cliche these days, but it works. I use the Google Groups search for most problems, the idea is that someone has asked the question before, and there has probably been an answer given in the groups.
- Ask someone you trust to “think with you”. Two heads are better than one, and sometimes a fresh look from another person will result in a quick diagnosis.
- Pay someone to “think for you”. In most cases the last resort is to hire someone to help you. Of course, this could be moved way up the list depending on your budget, schedule and expertise. But, if you can afford to do this, maybe you should have hired someone to make the changes for you.
Making changes and making mistakes is no reason to have everything crash on you. If you keep backups and keep track of changes, most problems can be solved rather quickly. And if they can not be solved, you should be able to at least step back to where you were before you had a problem.
I look forward to learning any tips you have! Just drop a comment and share with everyone.