Keeping your WordPress site updated

From time to time Themes, Plugins and WordPress will require updating.

Jun 2020 5 minutes

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From time to time Themes, Plugins and WordPress will require updating.

Updates typically happen when developers release security patches or add extra functionality.

It is good practice to keep your Themes, Plugins and WordPress version up to date with the latest version.

The top two reasons for sites being hacked are insecure passwords and outdated software which makes it vulnerable.

To promote better security and to streamline the update experience, WordPress can automatically update itself, if it can on your particular host, whenever it is a minor version such as 5.1.1 or 5.2.1.

These minor releases are usually for maintenance and security purposes or translation file updates.

Only core WordPress files will be auto-updated and your Themes or Plugins won’t be automatically updated.

So once your site is auto-updated, your Site Administrator will be notified by email, this is usually the email you will find in Settings and General.

In this box here, if your WordPress installation can’t update itself automatically for one reason or another your Site Administrator will be notified of this as well.

Perform an update from the Dashboard

To update your WordPress version manually or to update your Themes and Plugins, hover your cursor over the Dashboard menu item in the left-hand navigation menu and then this fly-out menu, you can click the Updates link.

Alternatively, it will show on the Dashboard, [Update to 5.2.3] here and on here when it is a core update, if you are in Plugins you will notice this number here, means there are two updates and in here they will be highlighted underneath each Plugin.

And for Themes, it will tell you here if you come to this screen (Appearance, Themes).

So if we can go onto the top menu, we can also access it quickly from this (refresh icon) and it tells us there are six updates available, so in this particular instance the WordPress core is available to update.

There are two plugins in the Plugin section and three Themes in the theme section.

Updating is as simple as clicking the [Update Now] button, which we will do now.

WordPress in the background will download all the necessary files and perform a validation of those files and then automatically update your website. Usually when it has done all that, it will present you now with an overview screen of what has been updated and any new features that you might want to check out.

But before updating your site I would always recommend performing a backup first, just in case something unfortunate happens during the installation. If you are online, if the Internet cuts, if something conflicts, these things do happen with technology.

Just going to let that run and it will tell us once that is done.

If you want to update a plugin you can stay in this screen, the updates screen and select the plugins you wish to update and click [Update Plugins] and you can also do the same for the Themes and [Click Update] Themes.

Updates from the Plugin screen

If we go to the Plugins page we can do it through here, so if we click “update now” for this and they will do them concurrently so if you already set one away it will do that first, wait till it’s completed and then move onto the next one.

It doesn’t do it simultaneously and I wouldn’t recommend it either. Update this (plugin) as well.

Great so they are all done, and we can do that for our Themes as well. These are the built-in themes you get with WordPress and each year they release a new one, the latest one is “twentynineteen” technically we don’t need these, but we will update them just to be secure anyway.

After your site has been updated no matter whether it has been done automatically, manually or just Themes and Plugins it is always a good idea to give your site a quick test, have a quick look around just to make sure it is all functioning as expected.

This will ensure that any new Themes or Plugins or even WordPress itself haven’t introduced any new functionality that adversely affects your site, or changes how your site operates. Or, worse still, if a Plugin has changed quite considerably it can break parts of your website and that is not great for visitors to your website experiencing issues or even say the deadly ‘white screen’.

It is always worth ensuring you take those backups before running your updates.


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