There will be scenarios when you want to delete your WordPress site. You may remove the WordPress installation from the hosting servers, but that’s not all. You will have to still make sure search engines are not indexing the site, or showing cached snapshots. So, in addition to deleting the WordPress files from the server, you have to ensure that your site’s content is still not displaying at different places all over the internet. In this article, we will talk about how to delete a WordPress site, along with the associated best practices.
Deleting a WordPress site – Is it that simple?
What does deleting a WordPress website mean to you? You would want the site and its content to not be accessible or available in the internet at all, right? Now, that is a slightly complicated process than it seems to be. Let’s quickly try and understand why.
Your website’s internet presence is dependent on a few other factors than just the presence of its files and database. Search engines have indexed it, and even if it is not available, search engines will keep on showing it in their results pages. This is because search engines consider the possibility that the site is down temporarily, and expects it to come back in the future. Another possibility is that snapshots of the site have been archived in places like WayBack Machine.
You maybe closing down your business, or moving to a new domain, and want to delete your existing website. Read on to understand how to remove the old website without any traces.
How to delete a WordPress site?
Now, let’s take a look at the steps you are required to take in order to delete a WordPress site.
Backup your site
One of the first steps that experts suggest, quite ironically, is to create a backup of the site. This allows you to change your mind later, or to help find a nagging piece of memory when you are searching for it in the future. Even if you are convinced that this site and its content are of no use to you, it is still advisable to keep a backup. There are several options to create and store backups of your WordPress site. If you are not sure about the process of creating WordPress backups and would like to see the available options, here are some articles that could help.
The next step in this process is to delete the WordPress software and files from the server. When you delete WordPress, along with the core software, images, themes, plugins, etc., will also be removed.
Depending on your technical expertise, you can follow one of the following options to delete your WordPress site and different files associated with it.
From your host’s auto installer
Depending on your host’s settings this step will be different. The basic step you have to take it to identify the location where WordPress files are saved. Once you have located the WordPress installation, you can simply click the Delete button.
If you have used the auto installer option (provided by some hosting services), you can find all the installed applications and then delete the WordPress installation.
You can use an FTP client to manually delete WordPress files. For this you will have to log in to your FTP Server. If you don’t have the credentials, you will have to get it from your hosting service provider. Once you have access, you can find the WordPress directory (public_html directory) and delete its contents.
Using File Manager
Another manual option to delete WordPress files will be using File Manager. You need to find the WordPress root directory using File Manager and delete the entire contents in it.
You can remove the WordPress MySQL database using PHPMyAdmin. In PHPMyAdmin, open WordPress database, and go to the Operations tab and choose the ‘Remove Database’ option. You can also use a mysql command with your username and password to remove the database.
Block search engines
The next step in the process of deleting your website would be to block search engines from crawling your site and its content.
There are different ways to do this.
Through webmaster tools
You can request to remove outdated content via Google Search Console. As per the guidelines, you can use this tool for content removal requests when a web page no longer exists or is “significantly different”. You can submit a request in the prescribed format and provide any additional information, if required. Once the request is submitted, it will take a while to get updated. You can come back and check the status of the request occasionally.
Similarly, Bing too has a content removal tool.
Modifying the .htaccess file
According to this Yoast article, if your site is running on Apache, and mod_headers is enabled, you can add the following line to your .htaccess file:
Header set X-Robots-Tag "noindex, nofollow"
You can access the file through an FTP client program like FileZilla.
Yoast SEO plugin has an option to stop search engines from indexing your site. However, that will be for individual posts and not for the entire website.
Using robots.txt file
According to this WPBeginner article, you can provide a directive to search engines using a robots.txt file to stop crawling your web pages.
To create a robot.txt file, you can use File Manager in the control panel of your hosting service, or use an FTP program.
In the file, you can add the following two lines to communicate to search engines to stop crawling pages under your domain name.
As mentioned at the start, cached snapshots of your website will be available in places like Archive.org’s WayBack Machine. When you delete your website, you can contact them and request to remove the cached screenshots as well. This will ensure that your site’s cached screenshots will be permanently removed from the archive.
Hopefully, this article has provided you with an understanding on how to delete a WordPress site, and the other aspects you will have to take care along with it. Feel free to leave us a comment if you have a query on the topic.