I love working on websites, a little too much but every now and then what should be a smooth website experience can turn into a technology panic station all hands on deck the ship is going down scenario.
My reoccurring nightmare is one where the alarm clock displays 6 AM as it violently wakes me up. I have a tight project deadline to meet, only to find the dreaded text website not available contactwebsite administrator for support. ARGH!!!! no not today and then I wake up in a cold sweat.
Welcome to my life. Dreaming about work on the weekends. Web design is a passion so I guess it is not that bad.
Resigned, you let the update do its thing. Interrupting it would just make it worse. Half an hour later, your computer finally reboots…and it no longer works. Looks like the update messed up your system.
We’ve all been there, and it’s no joke. Updates always happen at the worst possible time. Understandably, we’ve all developed a serious resentment and fear towards them on our computers, phones, and websites – WordPress is no exception.
Updating your WordPress plugins can be problematic. The whole site can go down, the theme can get messed up, or page loading can slow down to a grinding halt.
As much as we avoid hitting the “update” button, we need updates or we’d be stuck with virus-prone sites from the GeoCities era. In this guide, we’ll show you the right way to safely install your WordPress updates. You’ll learn how to minimize the chances of site downtime, keep your WP site functional even after installing a bad update, and find out about a secret weapon that serves as a time machine for your WP site.
Why is updating WordPress plugins necessary?
It’s a chore, we know. Plus, you’re afraid that updating will break something on your site. Frankly, it can. However, updating brings about more positive changes than negative ones. And as far as breaking something goes, well it happens 50% of the time.
I can tell you that even when i felt that it was going to be a simple update that was low risk, I have had to go code red and do my best to save the website from breaking after something unforeseen and not even logically relevant breaks and I have to scramble to fix the problem.
In my experience auditing websites I have seen some huge security flaws and website design problems that actually decreased the visibility and ability to make sales. These numbers were in the millions because the section of teh website affected was 1/3 of the websites product listings that were not showing meaning they were losing sales because the plugin update had caused massive issues.
Developers tend to focus more on the future than on the past. They may take backward compatibility into account, but there comes a time where they’ll simply block old software. That means even your favorite theme might not be able to run with their latest code if it’s outdated.
Old and new things go together to some extent, but at a certain point, you won’t be able to just slap on another coat of fresh paint – you need to upgrade.
Good, frequently maintained software continuously evolves. New features are added, the interface improves, and user feedback drives those changes. While you may think that the version you have is “the best one for you” and never needs an upgrade, try to embrace change. It’s usually good for you, and you may be pleasantly surprised by some of the new functions an upgrade brings.
Last but not least – security. Who wants their website to get hacked? Believe it or not, keeping WordPress up-to-date is the best way to keep a website secure. Bad people love outdated software – go figure. Hackers prey on sites using old versions of WordPress and old plugins. Why? Because they have known security issues that are easy to exploit. It’s just a matter of finding such sites. Don’t let stubbornness towards change make you a victim.
How often should I be updating WordPress plugins?
There’s no short answer to this question. WP core, plugins, and themes are updated in irregular intervals, and updates become available on any day of the week and at any time.
Checking your site once a day is not realistic for most people. However, we’d recommend checking for updates once a week. If you do it less than once a month, you run into a severe risk of using plugins and WP core with known security issues.
Tips for Safe Updates
Don’t be trigger happy
One of the most common causes of problems with updates is installing unstable, untested, and generally problematic updates. How do you know if an update is bad? Sadly, you can’t! You didn’t make the update, and it’s unreasonable to expect anyone to analyze the new code whenever there’s an update.
Instead of investing resources into testing a new update, let others do it first. Wait a day or two after the update becomes available and then install it. During that time, enough people will install and test it, so you don’t have to be the guinea pig. If it’s a bad update that causes problems, the developer will be notified immediately. By the time you install, a new, better update will become available.
This tip should be followed for plugin and theme updates as well as for core ones. Just be patient for a day or two, and don’t be update-happy.
Update things one by one
Sure, it’s convenient to click “update all.” But after you update everything and find yourself staring at the notorious white screen of death, it’s nearly impossible to know which plugin caused the problem.
Install updates one by one. After each one, open your site and see if everything looks OK. You don’t have to spend half an hour testing. Simply invest a minimal amount of effort to see if the update caused any noticeable issues.
Have a safety net
I’m sure you’ve heard multiple people stress the importance of keeping backups to you. If you still don’t believe in creating them, I’d instead urge you to have any kind of safety net.
Perhaps your hosting company keeps backups – that’s one thing you can rely on.
Maybe you keep all your posts in DOC files on your computer. Sure, it’s far from ideal (and I wouldn’t recommend it), but you do have a copy in the worst-case scenario.
I am pretty confident on teh front and back end of websites but even I get bamboozled by some plugins after updating them to see they have conflicted or broken somewhere. A lot of the time its out of version or code function request issues but the golden rule I have is always be safe.
Websites shouldnt be hard to manage but they are. Sometimes they run smoothly but theres been times I have had to really rethink how to best manage a website based on what legacy code or plugin functions are installed.
If you would like to speak about the best options for managing your website please contact me and Ill provide my recommendations for website management providers and top notch developers that can help you.
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