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Living in peace with Elementor

Published 3 weeks ago
 in the category ,

Not only is Elementor an awesome page builder for WordPress but it can also be a great source of frustration for new users when it “breaks”.  This, the first in a series or articles and videos, seeks to help you live in peace with your Elementor installation and goes on to talk about the cause of some common issues and remedies.

In reality, Elementor is an incredibly stable plugin but, because it is so powerful and pushes the envelope in terms of what WordPress can do, inevitably there can be conflicts with other plugins and themes.  My experience though is that most conflicts are due to other plugins and not Elementor itself.  You may disagree, of course.

Let’s begin then with a list of some of the key issues which crop up time and time again on the Elementor support forums. 

  1. “Elementor has broken my website, things don’t look right anymore”
  2. “I updated Elementor and now my website won’t work”
  3. “The Elementor editor won’t load”
  4. “Elementor has slowed down my website”
  5. “I moved my website from staging to production and now it’s not working”
  6. “Some images are missing from my website”
  7. “I’ve made some changes but they don’t show up on the website”

Hosting

“Around 60% of reported Elementor ‘bugs’ are in fact issues caused by poor server hosting performance”

Insufficient server resources can cause all sorts of Elementor related problems.  The most common is an inability to consistently and reliably load the editor but you may also witness manifestations such as CSS not loading, resulting in a web page with no styling, which is exactly what’s happening!

Step 1 on your journey to living in peace with Elementor is get some good hosting …

… and here’s why. Not all hosting plans are equal, there’s no such thing as a free lunch and even a cheap lunch can be pretty bad.  Good hosting costs money and to live in peace with Elementor, you’re going to need a good, reliable (and ideally flexible) hosting package so get used to the fact that your website is going to cost you some money.  There are thousands of people out there trying to sell you hosting but, if you ask 1,000 experienced Elementor users which is the best hosting package, you’ll see only perhaps 5 or 6 firms recommended. Don’t bother Googling “best hosting for Elementor” as you’ll only be faced with more confusion – the best bet is to join the Facebook Group “WordPress Hosting” at https://www.facebook.com/groups/wphosting/ and ask the question.  Be aware though that some hosting packages are great but, require a higher level of technical knowledge (particularly of Linux) than others which shield you from most of the very techie stuff so, when you ask the question, frame it around your capabilities, knowledge and requirements.

I have over 20 years experience of renting hosting.  I’ve tried good, bad and some seriously ugly.  I have a certificate on my wall which tells the world I’m a qualified Unix System Administrator so I could deal with all the techie stuff – I just prefer not to these days.  I prefer to spend my time making websites for clients and earning money.  Here’s what I look for in a good hosting package in this order.

Scalability & flexibility

Before you sign up with any package, you’re going to want to know some basics like how much processing power do you need, how much bandwidth you need and how much disk space you need.  Of course, you won’t have a clue at this early stage.  You’re going to want to believe that your website will be the next Amazon or Facebook but you sure don’t want to be paying for all that infrastructure from the get-go.  It’s important then to look for a hosting package that can grow easily and affordably as your business grows and as your website attracts more and more visitors. 

The ability to add more than one website

But, why?  I only have one website?  Yes but, at some point sooner rather than later you’re going to want to create a duplicate of your website for testing and fault finding – more on that later.

Frequent, reliable and easy to restore backups

A good backup regime is essential with any WordPress installation.  You need to have the confidence that if something goes dramatically wrong, like getting hacked or somehow breaking your website, you can click a button and return to a know, good working state as rapidly as possible.  On that note, you will often see people using a WordPress plugin such as Updraft or All-in-one or Duplicator to make backups.  These work fine (although you will need a basic level of technical competence to get the best from them) but, consider this, your website has been hacked beyond repair (it can happen) and you need to somehow access your WordPress installation to find some settings or access the “restore” capability – if it’s broken badly, you’re not going to be able to do that.  Much better and much more secure is to select a hosting package that includes regular, automatic,  server-side backups and restore.

Easy access to some basic server settings

You don’t necessarily need to know what these mean but at some point you’re going to want to do things like increase the PHP memory limit or change the version of PHP, especially when fault finding.  Some hosts hide these from the user and will only change things for you on request.  Some hosts won’t make changes at all while others provide access via something called CPanel.  CPanel is a de-facto standard for server management but, it is complicated for the new user if you don’t understand all the terminology. 

Meets Elementor minimum requirements

If you’re going to live in peace with Elementor, you need to make certain your hosting package meets (ideally exceeds) the minimum requirements listed here https://docs.elementor.com/article/38-requirements 
Again, you don’t need to understand what all of the requirement mean, just that your hosting package conforms.  This is vitally important as a great many reported Elementor “bugs” are not bugs at all but are caused by insufficient server resources – I would say as high as 60%.

Responsive, understandable support

You will need technical support and when you do, you’ll need it fast and you’ll need to understand what they’re telling you.  I always, when testing a hosting provider, try to access support and ask a question – typically something like “What’s the maximum MySQL database size?” and I’ll do this via whatever channels they have available be it a chat window, email or some bespoke support system.  I’m looking for a reasonably quick response, certainly less than 12 hours and I’m looking for a sensible reply and if they simply direct me to some documentation link, I want to make sure it’s written at a level I can understand.

Geography

It’s important to know where the server on which your website is hosted, is located.  If the majority of your website users are going to be in the UK, then having a server located in the US will, most certainly, result in poorer site speed.  For EU members, there is also a GDPR consideration as to what data you’re storing and where that data is located.

Transferring your current website to Cloudways

If you already have a website set up on some other host and you want to migrate it to Cloudways, they’ve made it dead easy.  Look for a WordPress plugin called “Cloudways WordPress Migrator” (it’s in the rep0) load it up, give it a few details and, boom, it’ll appear on your new Cloudways server.  We used it loads to transfer client sites from an old host and it’s 100% reliable.

Cloud, shared or dedicated server?

One of the most confusing things about selecting a hosting package is whether you should go for shared hosting, a dedicated server or something called “Cloud hosting”.  At one end of the price scale is shared hosting and, at the other, dedicated servers and very high-end cloud services.  Shared hosting is by far the cheapest and may even be offered free but, there’s a downside.  Essentially, any server is just a computer sat out there on the world wide web delivering webpages to the browser of your user on demand but, as with all computers, it has its limitations.  Let’s say your website is located on a server along with 100 other websites belonging to other people and let’s say that for whatever reason, one of those other websites starts demanding more server resources, perhaps because it’s just very busy or is misconfigured or, often, because it’s been hacked.  The impact on your website will be that it slows down to a crawl and sometimes won’t respond at all.  There’s nothing you can do about that, apart from moan at your provider or move to a different host.  Bear in mind also that while your website may be fine, dandy and ticking along nicely someone else may come along later and install some resource-hungry application and your site speed can suffer dramatically.  Again, you have no control.  Today, when better hosting solutions are available at a reasonable cost, I would avoiding shared hosting if at all possible when working with Elementor.

Dedicated servers are more expensive.  Basically you rent your own computer on the world wide web.  You may have someone else manage it for you or you may manage it yourself but, to be honest, if you’re reading this article a dedicated server is probably not for you.

Cloud hosting is relatively new and combines the affordability of shared hosting with many of the benefits of a dedicated server in that no matter what other people install and run, there’ll be no impact on your ‘server’ performance and site-speed.  Put simply, Cloud hosting looks and feels just like a dedicated server but rather than the resources existing on just one piece of hardware, they are distributed and loaded seamlessly across a number of virtual devices by some very clever software.

If you’re looking for a recommendation, I would say a Cloud hosting solution is a great compromise between cost, performance and flexibility.

Performance, availability & monitoring

Most hosting firm’s claims about uptime and availability are meaningless, there, I said it.  Most will claim 99.8% availability or better but much rests on what they consider “up time”.  To turn that on its head, they consider ‘down time’ to be times when your server hardware is unavailable altogether (it blew up, was abducted by aliens or irretrievably crashed).  Using that definition, it’s very easy to claim 99.9% uptime with modern hardware.

Claim a $15 discount!

We highly recommend Cloudways Cloud Hosting.  It ticks all the boxes for us and we’re confident enough to share our affiliate link with you.  Now, look, I know it’s an affiliate link and if you sign up for a FREE trial (no credit card or payment details required) using it you get $15 and we get $20 (I didn’t make the rules!) if you then sign-up to a paid plan.  We know you’ll love Cloudways just like we do so do give it a try.  It’s free to try for 3 days and that’s loads of time to get a WordPress Elementor site up and running and see what you make of it.

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Nigel Hancock T/A Grass Media Web Design and Herne Bay Web Design.  All content copyright Grass Media Web Design 2019-2022

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