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How to safely update WordPress

Lee Matthew Jackson
Lee Matthew Jackson

Most people are aware that it’s really important to update WordPress website regularly. That includes ensuring that your WordPress installation is running the latest version, but also making sure that all of the associated plugins have been fully updated. For example, just a few weeks ago, there was a vulnerability found in a range of WordPress plugins, including Yoast, which was patched quickly by the team, but sites were vulnerable for a time leading up to the fix, and also sites that did not update were at risk.

Before you go rushing to to update all of your plugins, there are things that you need to be aware of and consider. WordPress is an ever evolving system, and there are new features being added every major release. This also includes the depreciation of older features, and if a plugin that you have is an ageing plugin, an update cause your site to show ugly errors or to not run at all. It’s really important, therefore, that whenever you do run updates on your WordPress website, that you create a copy of your site in what is called a staging environment, otherwise known as a staging server.

This can be done quite cost effectively using some low cost shared hosting, where you can install a copy of your website, run all of the WordPress updates. Once you have run the updates you can front end of your site for any error messages. It is also good practice to check the back end of your website in the (/wp-admin/) for any issues with usability. Good areas to check would include the interfaces of the plugins that you installed, but also core WordPress features such as posts and pages, should any of the plugins you have affect any of the WordPress standard screens.

If you have a paid theme, you should also ensure you checked for updates and tested. Themes can come bundled with prepackaged plugins, or have functionality baked in that need a specific update by the theme developer on a major WordPress release.

Once you are happy that your site will perform well through the next update cycles, then ensure you have a full backup then go ahead and update your website.

This may seem like a lot of extra work, but this does significantly reduce the risk of you experiencing issues with your live site, thus ensuring it is live and generating leads. The cost of downtime can be quite detrimental to many online businesses.

Plug alert: We do offer a monthly update service where we adopt best practices for WordPress update including full testing in staging environments. Please get in touch if you would like to know more.

Have you any questions about updating your WordPress site? Any tips you would like to share? Lets get chatting in the comments below.



Lee Matthew Jackson

Content creator, speaker & event organiser. #MyLifesAMusical #EventProfs