WordPress Updates: Tips for Success

by | Jul 15, 2023 | Website Guides

Home Website Guides WordPress Updates: Tips for Success

Keeping your WordPress website up to date is essential for its security, performance, and compatibility with the latest technologies. However, many website owners may be hesitant to update due to fear of website downtime, lost data, or compatibility issues. This blog will provide tips for successfully updating your WordPress website to avoid these issues and keep your website secure.

Updating your WordPress website can seem daunting, especially if you’re not a web developer or have limited technical knowledge. However, failing to update can put your website at risk of security vulnerabilities and performance issues. By following best practices for managing WordPress updates, such as creating backups and testing updates on a staging site, you can minimize the risks of website downtime and data loss.

WordPress updates often include security fixes and patches for vulnerabilities, making them essential for your website’s security. Neglecting updates can leave your website open to hackers and malware attacks. By prioritizing updates and ensuring they are installed promptly, you can protect your website and keep it running smoothly.

To ensure your WordPress website is always up to date, it can be helpful to create a maintenance task list. This can include tasks such as checking for updates, creating backups, and testing updates on a staging site. By setting a regular maintenance schedule and sticking to it, you can stay on top of updates and avoid security vulnerabilities and performance issues.

Why You Have to Update WordPress

New Features

WordPress updates often introduce new features and functionality that can improve your website’s user experience, performance, and SEO.

Speed

WordPress updates can also include performance improvements, such as faster loading times and more efficient code.

Compatibility

Updates ensure that WordPress is compatible with the latest web technologies and plugins, ensuring that your website runs smoothly and doesn’t experience any compatibility issues.

Managed by Community

WordPress is an open-source platform that is managed and maintained by a community of developers. This means that updates are regularly released to improve its functionality, fix bugs, and add new features.

Open Source

WordPress is open-source software, which means its source code is freely available for anyone to use, modify, and distribute. This allows for a large community of developers to contribute to the platform and release updates to fix security vulnerabilities and other issues.

Changelogs Show Vulnerabilities

WordPress changelogs, which document changes made to the platform with each update, often include security fixes and patches for vulnerabilities. By keeping up with updates, you can ensure that your website is protected against these vulnerabilities. However this allows hackers a cheatsheet to find exploits on outdated sites.

According to recent statistics from Sucuri, a popular security brand, outdated WordPress websites are a common target for hackers. See stats below compared to other platforms.

Infographic showing why WordPress Updates are important to prevent hackers as WordPress is 96.2% of hacked sites

Updating WordPress

Auto Updates

WordPress has a feature that allows for automatic updates to be installed, which can save time and reduce the need for manual updates. This can be a convenient option for website owners who may not have the time or knowledge to manage updates themselves.

Pros:

  • Less things to worry about: With automatic updates, website owners don’t have to worry about checking for updates regularly and manually installing them.
  • Improved security: By keeping WordPress up to date, security vulnerabilities and bugs can be fixed promptly, reducing the risk of website hacks and data breaches.

Cons:

  • Might break the site if not compatible: While auto updates can be convenient, they can also cause issues if a plugin or theme is not compatible with the latest WordPress version. This can result in website errors, downtime, and loss of data.
  • Less control and knowledge on the site if you are hands off: If website owners rely on auto updates, they may not have as much control over the update process and may not be aware of potential issues until they occur.

 

If a plugin is not updated to the new WordPress version and WordPress is updated automatically, it can cause an error and take the site down. This can be avoided by manually updating plugins and themes before updating WordPress, or by checking compatibility before enabling auto updates.

Things to do before updating

  • Create a backup: Before updating WordPress, it’s essential to create a backup of your website. This ensures that if anything goes wrong during the update process, you can easily restore your website to its previous state.
  • Backup plugin: There are many backup plugins available for WordPress that can simplify the backup process. These plugins can automate backups on a schedule and save backups to a remote location for added security.
  • Management portal: If you manage multiple WordPress websites, using a management portal can make the update process more efficient. A management portal allows you to update multiple WordPress websites from a single dashboard, reducing the need for manual updates and saving time.

 

By taking these steps before updating WordPress, you can reduce the risk of data loss, downtime, and other issues that can occur during updates.

How often should you update?

Frequent updates are crucial for maintaining the optimal performance and security of any system or software. It’s advisable to update as soon as possible, particularly when a security update is released. Cyber threats are constantly evolving, and these updates often address vulnerabilities that could be exploited by malicious actors. Staying up-to-date with the latest patches and enhancements ensures that your digital environment remains resilient against potential risks. Therefore, regular updates, and immediate action in the case of security updates, are essential practices to safeguard your digital assets and maintain a secure online experience.

Many agencies provide website maintenance plans to alleviate the burden of updates for individuals and businesses. These plans typically encompass tasks such as installing updates, monitoring security vulnerabilities, and ensuring the website’s smooth operation. By entrusting these responsibilities to professionals, individuals can focus on their core activities without the concern of falling behind on critical updates. This approach not only ensures consistent performance but also offers peace of mind, knowing that potential security risks are being managed by experts who understand the intricate nuances of website maintenance.

Tips on updating

  • Update one plugin at a time: To minimize the risk of website errors and compatibility issues, it’s a good idea to update plugins one at a time. This allows you to identify which plugin caused any issues that may occur after the update.
  • Test updates on a staging site first: Before updating your live website, it’s a good practice to test updates on a staging site first. This is a separate copy of your website that you can use to test new features, updates, and changes without affecting your live website. Once you’ve confirmed that updates work properly on the staging site, you can safely apply them to your live website.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your website stays up to date and runs smoothly, while minimizing the risk of compatibility issues and downtime.

Manually Updating vs Using WordPress one Click Updates

Auto-Updating WordPress:

Auto-updating WordPress is a simple process. Website owners can click on the “Update Now” button in the WordPress dashboard to start the update process. WordPress will automatically download and install the latest version, making the process quick and easy.

Manual Updating WordPress:

Manual updating WordPress is a bit more complex, but it gives you more control over the update process. After downloading the latest version of WordPress, website owners will need to upload the files to their website via FTP. After uploading the files, they will need to click on the “Update WordPress Database” button in the WordPress dashboard to complete the update process.

While auto-updating WordPress is quick and convenient, manual updates can give website owners more control over the update process and help prevent issues that can arise during automatic updates. It’s up to website owners to decide which option is best for them based on their website’s needs and their level of technical expertise.

Things to do after updates

Clear Cache

After updating your website it’s important to clear cache to make sure that you see the new version of your website rather than the cached version of the site before you perform updates. If you do not there could be issues that wont be seen until the cache clears automatically a few days later.

Check Site For Errors

Sometimes there are errors or messages on the website after updates, it’s important to read through those errors to make sure that you can prepare or address the issues to prevent any future issues.

Common Issues:

500 Error

This means one of the plugins has an error. If this happens on the production site, restore a backup and move your testing to a stage site. Turn on the debug log this will show what plugin has the issue, this plugin will need to be removed or updates postponed until the plugin author fixes it. If the error is with a theme you will need to update the theme or reach out to the theme author. If you have a custom theme you will need to hire a developer to fix it for you. Sometimes it might be a plugin conflict where two plugins do not work on the site tograther, in this case you will need to replace the plugin with a similar solution or reach out to the plugin author to ask them for a solution.

WordPress Database Update Required

This is normal you can click update and it will run the update in the background.

WordPress Plugin Update Failed Download Failed. Unauthorized

This means that a premium plugin key is missing, to fix this you will need to add the key back or purchase the plugin from the developer

How to Update WordPress Theme

WordPress themes control the appearance of your website. They dictate the layout, colors, fonts, and other design elements. Updating your WordPress theme is easy and can be done in a few simple steps:

Step 1: Backup Your Website

Before updating your WordPress theme, it is essential to back up your website. A backup will ensure that you have a copy of your website in case anything goes wrong during the update process. You can use a WordPress backup plugin to create a backup of your website.

Step 2: Update Your Theme

To update your WordPress theme, go to Appearance > Themes in your WordPress dashboard. If an update is available for your theme, you will see a notification on the theme card. Click on the update button, and WordPress will automatically download and install the latest version of your theme.

Step 3: Test Your Website

After updating your WordPress theme, it is crucial to test your website’s functionality. Check all the pages and features to ensure that everything is working correctly. If there are any issues, you can revert to your backup and troubleshoot the problem.

WordPress Update Failed: Common Issues and Solutions

Updating WordPress is a simple process, but sometimes things can go wrong. Here are some of the common issues that occur during the update process and how to troubleshoot them:

Another Update is Currently in Progress

If you see the message “Another update is currently in progress” when updating your WordPress website, it means that a previous update is still running in the background. To fix this issue, wait for a few minutes and try updating again. If the issue persists, you can manually reset the update process by deleting the .maintenance file from your WordPress root directory.

An Automated WordPress Update has Failed to Complete

An automated WordPress update can sometimes fail to complete due to a connection error, insufficient disk space, or other technical issues. To fix this issue, you can try updating your WordPress website manually by downloading the latest version from the WordPress website and uploading it to your server.

WordPress Database Update Required

WordPress database updates are necessary to keep your website running smoothly. If you see a message that says “WordPress database update required,” it means that a database update is pending. To fix this issue, click on the “Update WordPress Database” button, and WordPress will automatically update your database.

WordPress Plugin Update Failed: Download Failed. Unauthorized.

If you see the message “WordPress plugin update failed: Download failed. Unauthorized.” when updating a plugin, it means that your WordPress website does not have the necessary permissions to download and install the plugin. To fix this issue, check your WordPress file permissions and make sure that the correct user has write access to the plugin directory.

WordPress Plugin Update Failed

If a plugin update fails, it could be due to a compatibility issue, server error, or other technical issues. To fix this issue, you can try updating the plugin manually by downloading the latest version from the WordPress plugin repository and uploading it to your server.

WordPress Update Broke My Site

Sometimes a WordPress update can break your website, causing it to display error messages or not load at all. This issue could be due to compatibility issues with plugins or themes or conflicts with your

WordPress Update Services

WordPress updates are essential for your website’s security, performance, and functionality. WordPress releases updates regularly, including core updates, plugin updates, and theme updates. It is crucial to keep your WordPress website up to date to avoid security vulnerabilities and performance issues.

Here are Some Tips for Managing WordPress Updates:

Enable Automatic Updates

Enabling automatic updates for your WordPress website can save you time and ensure that your website is always up to date. You can enable automatic updates for WordPress core, plugins, and themes through your WordPress dashboard or by using a WordPress management plugin.

Create Regular Backups

Creating regular backups of your WordPress website is essential, especially before updating your website. Backups will allow you to revert to a previous version of your website if anything goes wrong during the update process.

Test Updates on a Staging Site

Before updating your live website, it is a good idea to test updates on a staging site. A staging site is a copy of your website that is not accessible to the public. You can test updates on your staging site and ensure that everything is working correctly before updating your live website.

Keep Your Plugins and Themes Updated

Keeping your plugins and themes updated is essential for your website’s security and performance. Outdated plugins and themes can cause security vulnerabilities and compatibility issues, leading to performance issues and website downtime.

WordPress Fatal Error: Common Causes and Solutions

A fatal error is a severe issue that can cause your website to crash or display an error message. Here are some of the common causes of WordPress fatal errors and how to fix them:

Incompatible Plugin or Theme

Incompatible plugins or themes can cause fatal errors in WordPress. To fix this issue, disable the plugin or theme that is causing the error and contact the developer for a fix or look for an alternative.

Memory Limit Exceeded

If your WordPress website has reached its memory limit, it can cause a fatal error. To fix this issue, increase the memory limit in your wp-config.php file or contact your hosting provider for assistance.

Corrupted Core Files

Corrupted WordPress core files can cause fatal errors in WordPress. To fix this issue, reinstall WordPress, or upload a fresh copy of the WordPress files to your server.

PHP Version Incompatibility

Incompatible PHP versions can cause fatal errors in WordPress. To fix this issue, update your PHP version to the latest version that is compatible with WordPress.

Other notes

Remove Unused Plugins and Themes

Removing unused plugins and themes is a fundamental practice in maintaining a healthy and secure website. These unutilized elements can potentially introduce vulnerabilities and bloat to your site, impacting both performance and security. By regularly assessing and purging plugins and themes that aren’t actively serving a purpose, you streamline your website’s codebase and reduce the potential attack surface for cyber threats. This proactive approach contributes to a more efficient, secure, and manageable digital environment, ensuring your website operates smoothly and remains resilient against potential risks.

Select a Reliable Theme

Selecting a reliable theme is a critical step in ensuring the seamless operation of your website’s updates. Opting for a well-maintained and reputable theme significantly reduces the likelihood of encountering compatibility issues and glitches during updates. A reliable theme is typically developed with best practices, undergoes regular updates, and is designed to be compatible with the latest versions of content management systems and plugins. By investing in such a theme, you enhance the overall stability and longevity of your website, making updates a smoother and less troublesome process. This proactive approach minimizes the risk of disruptions, enhances user experience, and contributes to the long-term success of your online presence.

Select a Reliable Plugins

Utilizing reliable plugins is crucial for maintaining the stability and longevity of your website. Opting for well-supported and reputable plugins significantly reduces the chances of encountering compatibility issues and site vulnerabilities when updates are applied. Plugins that are no longer supported or maintained can become security risks and may lead to site instability or even crashes during updates. By selecting plugins that have a strong track record of updates and ongoing development, you ensure that your website’s functionality remains consistent, security risks are minimized, and the update process is much smoother overall. This approach contributes to a more resilient and user-friendly online presence while mitigating potential risks associated with outdated or unsupported plugins.

Create an Update Schedule

Establishing a consistent update schedule is a pivotal aspect of effective website maintenance. By creating a structured plan for updates, you ensure that essential software components such as plugins, themes, and the content management system are regularly updated in a timely manner. This proactive approach minimizes the risk of security vulnerabilities and compatibility issues arising from outdated software. Depending on the complexity of your website and the frequency of updates released by developers, you might opt for a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly update schedule. This not only keeps your website secure and performing optimally but also helps you maintain a clear overview of the maintenance process, ensuring that necessary updates are never overlooked or delayed.

Conclusion

Updating your WordPress website is crucial for its security, performance, and compatibility with the latest technologies. However, updating your website can sometimes cause issues such as failed updates, fatal errors, and website downtime. It is essential to follow best practices for managing WordPress updates, such as enabling automatic updates, creating regular backups, testing updates on a staging site, and keeping your plugins and themes updated. If you encounter any issues during the update process, troubleshoot the problem and seek assistance if necessary. With these tips, you can keep your WordPress website up to date and running smoothly.

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