Why WordPress updates are so important

Why WordPress updates are so important

As the popularity of WordPress continues to grow across the Internet, more and more people are opting to use this amazing open-source content management system. 

So far this year I’ve conducted 10 days of WordPress training and of those courses I would say at least 80% of the participants were not running the most up to date version of WordPress or their plugins.

The main two reasons I hear are:

  1. I’m worried the updates will crash the website.
  2. Our website designer was doing them but stopped.

Keeping your WordPress website up to date is vitally important. Just as we should always run antivirus/anti-malware programs on our computer, we need to keep the WordPress core file structure plus all plugins and themes up to date.

WordPress Updates

Updates for WordPress can include security fixes, bug fixes and general maintenance. Your plugins, which add extra functionality to your website, also need to be kept up to date for the same reason.

Depending on your theme developer, you may also receive regular updates to your WordPress theme. These should be installed alongside any other updates. Some themes are a one-off purchase and do not include ongoing updates, whilst other themes may only provide updates for an initial period.

Failure to keep these elements up to date opens your website up to potential issues from hackers or malicious code. Once a hacker identifies your website has a vulnerability then consider it hacked because they will know exactly how to exploit that flaw.

A recent new client came to me with issues on their website. Within 10 seconds of me looking at their website, I could see they’d been hacked. The site was redirecting links from the main navigation bar to a completely different website. The cause of this hack? An outdated theme.

Keep WordPress up to date

Firstly let’s look at WordPress itself. There are two types of updates: major and minor.

A major update is where WordPress developers add in new functionality. These may also include security or bug fixes. The most current version as of writing this is WordPress v5.3.2. The next major update will see the release of WordPress v5.4.

A minor update is generally where security and bug fixes are applied. As mentioned the current version being used in WordPress v5.3.2, so the next minor update will be WordPress v5.3.3.

What next?

So now you know that keeping WordPress and your plugins up to date is very important. What is the next step? You have three main options to choose from:

  1. Update WordPress yourself
  2. Get a designer to do it
  3. Ignore the updates and cross your fingers & toes that nothing happens

Update WordPress yourself

If you plan to update WordPress yourself, do a little research first. There is plenty of information online which provides best practices for updating a WordPress website.

First and foremost make sure you have a recent backup of your entire website including the database. Should anything go wrong during the update process you want to be able to restore your website without having to go into a panic.

Get a web designer to do it

If you don’t feel comfortable performing your own website updates, or maybe you simply don’t have the time, it’s worth speaking with your website designer who may be able to offer maintenance or “care plans” as a service. *wink wink* Just like we do!

Our WordPress Care Plans offer a monthly or fortnightly update of your website including the WordPress core files, plugins and theme (if applicable). If something goes wrong, we fix it. Click here for more information.

Ignore the updates

If you choose this route, which I really hope you don’t, be prepared that your site will be hacked eventually. Feel free to call us when it does, we can help fix the hack.

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