Here’s how We Recovered Our Homepage After It Went Missing (Suddenly)

Here’s how We Recovered Our Homepage After It Went Missing (Suddenly)

WordPress makes things easier for website owners. They can easily manage everything from a dashboard without having to code. But at times, it can also complicate things. And even worse, the reason behind the error is not always certain. So figuring out the correct approach to fix the error becomes a challenging task.

Recently, we faced a similar scenario. Out of nowhere, we lost our homepage! It was only when one of our regular blog readers messaged us regarding the issue did we became aware of it. So how did all of it happen and how we fixed it? Read on to learn more.

The Day Our Homepage Went Missing

Let’s start at the dreadful day that this happened. It was a regular day when we were preparing upcoming blog posts for the week. Then, we received an unanticipated email from one of our readers. We assumed it to be a comment on one of our recent blog post or a feedback on it. But it wasn’t. The email read that our homepage has not been working for a few minutes. Its showing a ‘No Results Found’ message instead. We checked the homepage and found it to be the case.

Our uptime monitoring software didn’t notify us of the issue either. That’s because the error was only with the homepage. The rest of the pages were working just fine.

How to Recovered the Homepage Immediately?

This matter was urgent. Since the homepage was down, all of our website visitors assumed the website is either down or is in maintenance. So we risked losing them.

The first thing we did was turn to the latest backup copy of our website. Our backup software recorded every tiny little change we made to our website and saved a version of it. So we tested one of the recent working backups to see if homepage was fine in that version. It turns out the penultimate version displayed the homepage correctly. So we restored that version of the website. And as expected, the homepage was back once again.

All Was Still Not Okay

Just when we thought the problem is fixed, we were in for a surprise. When we looked the homepage, we realized that it is displaying outdated content.

To get to the root of the problem, we traced back the sequence of events. Before receiving the email from our regular reader, we had made some scheduled modifications on our website. We then restored a version without verifying if it was the correct one. Now we have a website that isn’t showing the modifications we had made prior. So we had to work further to resolve the error.

Things we Tried

The first option we tried was inspecting the WordPress revisions section. As you might know, WordPress saves multiple revisions in the system. We can look into it to see the changes we’ve made. But there wasn’t much information regarding the error. All the changes were as per schedule. There wasn’t anything unusual.

The next thing we looked at was our backup service provider. They too keep track on the changes and save a version. All we had to do was find the right version that reflected the changes and restore it. Previously, we had restored a random version.

So we started checking the version. Finally, we found the one that had the 404 Error message and also contained the modifications. Now it was time to locate the error the resulted in the error.

We tried the ‘WPSecurity Audit Log’. And that’s where we found the root cause of the problem! One of the our team members had unknowingly changed the meta properties of the homepage and set it to ‘Private’. Now all we had to do was figure out when the page was set to Private and restore the version that was saved prior to that. And that’s what we did. After 20 minutes of work, our homepage was back with all the modifications.

To ensure you never face this kind of problem, test the changes in a staging environment first. Staging environment stores a clone of your WordPress website. The changes you make in here doesn’t affect your original website. So when you spot an error, you can deal with it in the staging environment itself. Then you can deploy the changes to the original WordPress website after ensuring that the changes doesn’t affect the performance of the website. This can potentially save hours of work down the road.
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