You’ve installed your WordPress website, generated a fair amount of content, and developed a relatively decent following that includes a number of regular visitors. All seems to be going well until one day, without warning, one of your plugins stops working correctly. What do you do? The first thing to do is check on whether updates are available.
Updates are a regular occurrence in the WordPress platform. Between the CMS and the thousands of plugins contributed by individual developers, rarely does a week go by when at least one update is not available. So it’s a good idea for WordPress users to know some of the basics of updates. Below are the first three of what may eventually become a quite extensive list.
1. You Can Update the CMS Automatically
You can adjust the settings within the WordPress CMS to force it to update automatically whenever a new version comes out. For new WordPress sites, just look for the checkbox at the bottom of the setup page when you are providing the initial information needed to establish a new WordPress installation. Checking that box guarantees WordPress will update automatically.
Owners of existing sites will have to log into the control panel software provided by their hosting company. From there they should navigate to the ‘Softaculous’ page where they will find a list of every WordPress instance they have active. Clicking on a WordPress installation from that list will open a configuration page with the necessary settings.
2. Plugins Do Not Update Automatically
The problem mentioned in the introduction of this post can be due to a conflict between an updated WordPress installation and an outdated plugin. Why? Because plugins generally do not update automatically unless a developer builds that option into his/her software. But since that doesn’t happen often, almost all of the WordPress plugins currently on the market require manual updating.
You will know one of your plugins needs updating because you’ll get a notice when you log into your dashboard. Just navigate to the plugins page or click the Update icon at the top of the dashboard. Both will take you to the page where you can update all of your outdated plugins.
3. Updates Can Break Themes
There is no way for WordPress developers to account for all of the idiosyncrasies of individual theme developers. Therefore, they don’t even try. That means platform updates always have the potential to break your theme. This is why we recommend using child themes instead of originals. Child themes are more likely to remain intact regardless of platform updates.
As a side note, updates from theme developers may reset any customization you have made to a theme. This is yet another reason to use child themes.
Updates are important for both the WordPress platform and the plugins that make it so functional. So keep up on your updates for the best possible performance. As always, create a backup of your site before you update anything.