One of the most important parts of owning a WordPress site is to keep it, along with your theme and plugins, up to date. WordPress updates can offer improved security, better functionality, improved file handling, and more. The update process for each is a little different, and today we will cover them all in simple to understand ways.
First things first…back it up! You always want to backup your entire site before running your updates. This will assure that your site and database are safe, and can be easily restored if something should go wrong. We’ll talk more about backup methods in an upcoming article, but for now know the best are server-side backups through your hosting provider, second best is cloud which can be done by using a plugin such as UpdraftPlus or BackWPup. And now that you’re all backed up, let’s continue on.
Keeping your WordPress version up to date is the most important one. It offers the most in terms of improved security and functionality. To do this, login to your admin panel. It will be located at either website.com/wp-admin or website.com/wp-login, depending on your permissions. Once logged in, click on “Dashboard” at the top of your left side-panel menu. This is called the “Admin Menu”. Now click “Updates”. In here you’ll see WordPress updates at the top, and the updates for Plugins underneath it. Ignore the Plugins section for now. You will either see a button to update your WordPress version, or it will say “Re-install Now”. If it says that, you’re ok. Otherwise, click update. The entire process is automated and will notify you when it’s complete.
Next, you’ll update your theme. To do this you’ll navigate down your Admin Menu and click on “Appearance”. This will take you to the “Themes” section. Here you will see your active theme and all others installed, such as the default themes. When an update is available, there will be an alert above your theme that says, “New version available. Update now”. Click here and your theme will be automatically updated. You will receive a notification when the process is finished. Before moving onto the next step, I’d recommend backing up your site once again if you have time, because the next part involves multiple updates.
Updates for plugins happen quite often and will be the bulk of your updating time. There are two places you can do this. In the “Dashboard” under “Updates”, or under the “Plugins” section of your Admin Menu. Whichever path you choose there is an important practice to abide by: Update one plugin at a time. It sounds like it would take longer, but you will be able to pinpoint a problematic update much more easily. There is of course an option to do all of them at once, but it does come with the risk of clashing or incompatible updates. When this happens, you’ll have to test, or reinstall each plugin one at a time to find which one is causing the issue. So to save time and headaches, run them each individually.
That’s it! That is everything you need to know in order to keep your WordPress site up to date. After a few tries, it will become very easy to do. Just follow these steps. And if you’re a customer of ours the process is even easier! Because we’ll take care of everything for you and keep your site backed up and your WordPress updates current. You won’t have to lift a finger.