Keeping WordPress Up to Date

wordpress_logoYour WordPress website provides lots of advantages over a static site. You can add and edit content easily, pages can be tweaked to get better Google results and sophisticated extra features can be bolted onto the site relatively simply. The disadvantage is that the core software and its plug-ins need to be kept up-to-date. WordPress accounts for around a quarter of all new websites these days and its sheer popularity means that it’s a favourite target for hackers.

However you go about this, choosing to ignore the need to update the software is simply not an option – it will only be a matter of time before your site gets hacked. It could get totally trashed, end up being defaced with a political or pornographic message, it could start sending spam, or even serve up a virus to all your website visitors – think about the effect that any of those scenarios would have on your business or organisation’s reputation! Also, because a server hack could affect our other clients’ sites, we might need to suspend access to your site altogether for security purposes.

WordPress has major updates released around three times a year and we can keep your site’s core software updated for you. It’s a chargeable service, but we can build regular updates into our hosting fees to save you money (and the effort of confirming you want the work done before it’s carried out each time).

The cost-free option is to undertake the work yourself. To help you do that, here’s our recommended way of carrying out the job – it ensures that if things go wrong during the update your site can be reinstated quickly.

  1. Log into CPanel to make sure you have enough spare diskspace to store a backup of the site.
  2. Use the Softaculous section of CPanel to create a backup of your WordPress installation and database.
  3. Log into your WordPress dashboard and navigate to the Updates section.
  4. First, update to the new version of WordPress.
  5. Next, update any plug-ins which have new versions available.
  6. Finally, update any themes which have new versions available.
  7. Test your website to see if it still works as expected.

We’ve found that doing things in this way (and in this order) is the safest way to avoid potential problems. Backing up via Softaculous provides a means to restore the site in a matter of a few seconds if things go awry (but make sure your account has enough space for it, as an incomplete backup won’t restore). Updating WordPress before the plug-ins cuts down the possibility of a plug-in ‘throwing a tantrum’ if it needs a feature which isn’t available in an older version of WP. Before you update your live theme, be aware that a theme that’s been modified will be overwritten and lose its modifications. Make sure you take note of any instructions which WordPress provides during the upgrade process.