Keep track of the changes made on the WordPress website

Last updated December 5th, 2023 23:55

Let’s look at a lighter and shorter topic regarding website management on WordPress. This topic is about changes on the live site. Specifically, why it should be important for you to keep track of the configuration and settings changes. The explanation will be straightforward, and I’ll demonstrate it through a practical example. So, the advice to “keep track of the changes made on the WordPress website” won’t be given lightly. This advice will also be helpful to those who feel that nothing can surprise them when it comes to WordPress.

Keep track of the changes made on the WordPress website

I myself didn’t apply this advice until recently, and it came back to haunt me. I’ve been actively working with WordPress for about 15 years. Until recently, I believed that I could identify any issue with WordPress either immediately or, at worst, within one evening (at least for the websites I manage). However, that belief was shattered when I made a modification to the website that caused me a lot of frustration and wrinkles.

Out of the blue, WordPress started forgetting permalinks. Every time I published a new article, WordPress lost the permalinks for all pages that were in Czech. It remembered the Czech articles, English articles, and even English pages. It remembered everything except the Czech pages on the website. Each time, I had to regenerate the permalinks, and what was worse, there was no trace of the problem in the error log.

The only clue I had was an Apache error log, which pointed to Polylang. However, no changes occurred there. The developer was also clueless. If I had kept notes of the changes, I could have conducted a simple reverse investigation. But I didn’t have any notes, and there were so many changes made that I forgot them all.

Reverse investigation

So, I searched for the changes and tried the impossible. I rolled back the Polylang plugin to the original version, edited PHP on the Ubuntu server, changed PHP settings, used snippets for temporary, automatic URL regeneration. And where was the mistake? In something so trivial, as always.

I disabled the Heart Beat function in WordPress via the cache plugin WP Rocket to speed up administration. What I didn’t know was that Elementor uses this API for its key functions and strongly advises against turning off Heart Beat. And that was the problem. Broken permalinks were caused by Elementor and the disabled Heart Beat API.

Notes, notes, notes…

With change notes, I could have reverted one change after another to the original state and resolved this issue within my standard time frame. One coffee’s worth, or during one evening. Instead, it took me 4 days to figure out the problem and somehow simulate WordPress behavior.

And that brings me back to the title. Keep track of the changes made on the website for the purpose of reverse investigation. If something goes wrong, which you might discover even a week later, you can easily revert change after change and test which modification caused the issue.


It’s a simple piece of advice, but as I’ve learned, it’s very valuable and crucial. Even if you understand WordPress inside out, sometimes you encounter problems that simply don’t have an apparent solution because you have no starting point. Something breaks, and the logs remain silent. Trust me, it’s frustrating, especially if multiple people manage the website. A notes plugin in the administration can be a truly essential tool for troubleshooting and restoring the website to a functioning state.

And one last piece of advice, do not disable or restrict Heart Beat if you are using Elementor. They mention it in their knowledge base, and they know why.

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