WordPress website error site reverting to old version

I have been noticing an intermittent problem with this website over the last 6 months or so where the site was reverting to a very old version of the site that showed my old design log and only old posts. At first I thought I had a cache problem on my pc and attempted to flush my local dns hoping that would resolve the issue. The problem manifested itself across multiple machines so I quickly realized that was not the solution but did not seek a more permanent fix since the problem was very intermittent in nature and I have been extremely busy (not a good excuse). When the problem reoccurred today I had finally had enough and logged a ticket with my web hosting support company to work on a permanent resolution.

Problem: Website for this site was having a problem and was reverting to an old version of the site (with an old logo design) and only showing posts as of 1/2012 and older.

Impact: Site design looked dated and visitors were not seeing the improved design/layout of the site or the new material posted on the site. I also suspect this hurt the site from a search engine perspective and lost traffic due to the site appearing old due to lack of new content.

Actions taken to attempt resolution: Thought problem was DNS related so flushed my local dns cache but realized something broader was going on when problem was found across multiple machines. Attempted to research problem using google search engine but most guidance was regarding webmaster tools related options and did not seem applicable. After failing to find a satisfactory fix I logged a support ticket with my webhosting provider.

Root Cause: I had to provide my webhosting technical assistance people admin access to the site and specify what database was used by the site. I created a unique temporary account/password for them and they completed the analysis and resolution very quickly. The root cause of my problem was found to be a corrupted WordPress table and once this table was repaired using the PhpMyAdmin tool the site is now displaying as it should be.

Lessons learned: Do not wait extended periods of time to deal with a problem. I could have had this issue resolved much sooner if I would have taken immediate action and logged a support ticket. The lunarpages support team was very helpful and quickly solved this issue once I provided them the needed access and confirmed the database id.

Information Security Implications: As mentioned above I had to provide site admin credentials to the technical support team to troubleshoot the problem. I followed the following security best practices during the interaction:

  • Had a full backup of my site before the work began
  • Created a unique temporary admin account just for this purpose
  • Deleted the account as soon as my support ticket was closed out successfully

This turned out to be a pretty good operational/security case study so I thought it would be useful to document and share.

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