If you own a WordPress website, you have probably noticed the regular updates available by WordPress, plugins, and themes in your dashboard. Don’t take these updates lightly — they are important for the stability and security of your website.
Why It Is Important To Keep Your Site Updated
It is important to maintain your website to avoid any problems that may arise in the future. It’s like owning a car — you have to take care of it by getting regular oil changes and performing scheduled maintenance to avoid breaking down in the middle of the road!
WordPress is used by millions of people worldwide so in order to stay stable, regular updates become available to keep up with modern coding standards and new vulnerabilities that may arise. The world of technology is ever-changing so be grateful for WordPress for keeping up!
Before You Make Updates, Backup Your Site
It is incredibly important that you backup your website BEFORE you make any updates. If you run scheduled backups, good! Run the backup right before you make the update in case a problem arises after you make an update. In case you don’t already have a backup plan in place, checkout ShiftWeb’s exclusive backup services for past clients.
Upgrading is taking your vitamins; fixing a hack is open heart surgery.
(This is true of cost, as well.)”
— Matt Mullenweg, Co-Founder of WordPress
How To Update WordPress Core
When an update is available, you’ll see the notification at the top of your WordPress admin dashboard, similar to the first image below.
After you click on “Please update now”, you will be taken to another page with an update button as shown in the second image below. Click on this to begin the update.
When the update is done, you will see a success message. Whoala! You just updated WordPress core for your website!
How To Update Plugins
After WordPress releases an update, many plugin developers will update their plugins as well. Keep in mind that a good plugin is one that gets updated regularly! It’s also important to make sure you backup your website before you make plugin updates.
When a plugin update is available, it looks very similar to the image below when you go to Plugins > Installed Plugins section of your WP admin. Updating is as easy as clicking “update now”.
Updating a premium (paid) plugin can be a little trickier. Many developers of premium plugins require that you put in a license number to activate and allow updates for the plugin. The reason for this is because their plugin may only be available in a private repository, instead of WordPress’ repository.
How To Update Themes
When a theme update is available, you’ll get similar notifications on your dashboard or when you go to Appearance > Themes as shown in the images below.
Updating themes may be the trickiest of all. If you have had your theme installed or developed by a web designer or developer, you will most likely need to get with them to update your theme. If you bought your theme and installed it yourself, the theme update should be available for you to update yourself. Just like premium plugins, premium theme developers may require that you enter a license number to allow updates for the theme.
If someone designed your site for you, you don’t want to try to update the theme yourself because you can’t be so sure what they did to the theme to customize your site. If they made changes to your theme’s core files (which they shouldn’t, but sometimes it’s hard to avoid), then making an update to the theme will remove all customizations and put everything back to default. This could be serious and become expensive to fix!
In the example image above, you can see that “automatic updates are unavailable for the theme”. This is because it is a premium theme and needs to be updated manually.
Again, having a website is like owning a car. If you have the time and/or desire, you can learn how to change the oil or maintain it by yourself. Like most people, you probably prefer, or it’s probably best if you hire a professional to help maintain your website. If you run a business, it should be standard that you fit these type of costs in your budget. After all, your website becomes the face of your business most of the time. It is an investment and important asset that you should tend to!
Breathe Easy — Let ShiftWeb maintain your website for you.
If you found this article helpful and want to take even more measures for a clean update, check out this blog post from one of my favorite companies.