Update WordPress Core, Themes, & Plugins

Kyle Van Deusen
August 1, 2020

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Keeping your software up-to-date helps protect against security vulnerabilities and gives you enhanced functionality.

Chances are you already know how to update WordPress… but I promise, if you Google it you’re going to find a lot of different opinions on how it should be done. You’re also going to find people that tell you that it has to be done this way or that.

I have no desire to lecture you one way or another— here are some simple tips I’ve found useful. Find what works best for you, and how you feel comfortable. Just whatever you do, keep all your software up-to-date! You shouldn’t be going weeks (or months, or years!) without running updates. Once a week seems to be my personal sweet spot.

Tips for running WordPress Updates

There’s are my personal recommendations.

  1. Use a staging site for updates (or don’t). If you want to be extra careful, and you have all the time in the world, you can clone your website to a staging environment, run your updates, check for any errors and then know if it’s safe to update or not. But, I’m going to be honest— who the hell has time for that? I’ve generally found updates to reputable plugins to be fairly reliable… And in a worse case scenario I have backups to restore.
  2. Make sure you have backups before updates (especially major ones). If you’re running regularly scheduled backups (at least once a day) you should have a backup that’s no more than 23 hours and 59 minutes old at worst. Chances are it’s fresher than that. Might be a good idea to double check first that your latest backup was completed.
  3. Update WordPress Core, then your Themes, then your plugins. This is the best consensus I could find between everyone’s different strategies. It makes sense— if you think of these things in terms of hierarchy, then you’re updating the biggest bit first and the smallest ones last.

Tools like MainWP or ManageWP can help you do WordPress updates faster by connecting in all your (or your client’s) websites into one central dashboard where you can run updates all at once.

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