How to Update WordPress the Simplest Way
We are blessed with WordPress today thanks to the enthusiastic team of developers who joined their knowledge and skills to create an open-source content management system. This phenomenal project has been going on since 2003 and still gathers literally tens of thousands of talented individuals all over the world who contribute by suggesting upgrades, fixing bugs, adding new features and improving it on many different levels. It is a great thing to have such a quality CMS that anyone who possesses adequate knowledge can contribute to. Not to mention the fact that it is also freely available to anyone who wants to make a website or blog. Bearing all this in mind, the fact that a new WordPress release comes out almost every month is not surprising.
In this article we will show you:
Some updates come with important patches that solve various security issues. Other updates add new features, while yet other, minor ones, are there to fix some bugs that occasionally slip through. If your WordPress version runs smoothly and does not give you any headaches, you might be wondering why bother with updates at all. There are actually at least five good reasons to regularly update your version of WordPress:
- To keep WordPress secure and safe
- To take advantage of handy, new WordPress features
- To make overall WordPress performance faster
- To keep your website free of bugs
- To preserve and improve compatibility with major plugins
Keep WordPress Secure and Safe
One of WordPress’s greatest strengths makes it also very vulnerable from another point of view. The fact that it is open source means that anyone can access the source code and use it for better or for worse. Hackers could take advantage of any vulnerabilities in the code to break into websites. Once they do that, they can steal your customer data and delete or spoil your content. But, WordPress security is taken care of on many different levels. The good news is that there are also a lot of hackers with noble intentions who use their powers for good – to report security bugs. Each time a good hacker reports that security is jeopardized, the lead WP team fixes the reported issue. The result of this interaction is usually the release of a new update with targeted issues fixed. This is the first and most important reason why you need to update WordPress regularly. Whenever you use an older version of WordPress, you are exposed to all kinds of hackers who look for older versions because they know how to target their security vulnerabilities.
Take Advantage of Handy New WordPress Features
Along with fixing security bugs, developers often notice other issues that can be improved as well. The online world is a fast-growing one, innovations are its trademark and that certainly applies to WordPress too. Each new update release comes with handy, new features that perfectly answer the current needs of WP users. For example, the WP version 4.1 introduced inline image editing, while version 5.0 came with a new, block-based editor known as Gutenberg. You can count on lots of refinements to both user and developer experience with every new version. Not a bad reason to update regularly, right?
Make Overall WordPress Performance Faster and Improve SEO
The next, also very important reason to update regularly, is that developers are always looking for ways to improve speed and performance, since they know how much it can affect your site’s SEO. So, whenever you think about how to speed up your WordPress website remember that every new WP release comes with performance improvements which result in WordPress running faster and more efficiently. A regular update habit is also one of the easiest and safest ways to contribute to your website’s SEO optimization.
Keep Your Website Free of Bugs
You probably noticed how every now and then a minor WP release comes out. You can recognize these minor releases as their version number usually contains three digits (for example, 4.2.2). The reason why they are created is that no matter how much work is put in, some bugs always slip through. That’s why WordPress developers are never bored – there’s always some bug to be fixed in every version. You should also know that these kinds of minor updates usually happen automatically, unlike the major ones, which require direct action from your side.
Preserve and Improve Compatibility With Popular Plugins
Plugin and theme developers naturally want to take maximum advantage of the newest WP improvements. That’s why they often synchronize plugin and theme upgrades with WP upgrades. So, by updating WordPress on a regular basis you also ensure plugin compatibility.
There are several ways to check whether your WordPress version is up to date. The simplest and most straightforward way is to go to the Dashboard and click the Updates page. You will see not only whether a new version of WP is released, but also if new plugin updates are available. It is always recommendable to update the plugins too, as most of them adjust their versions to the latest WP version.
Complete WordPress backup is an absolute must. All your core files, WordPress database, plugins, themes, images and media have to be stored in a remote, safe location before you initiate a major update. No matter how well organized you are or how good WordPress is as a platform, you have to be ready for unforeseen situations. Many things can go wrong in the process of an update and even though they usually happen in extremely rare cases, you need to make sure your data is safe and protected. So, even if you have an automated WP backup plugin all set up, you still need to create a new backup and store it in a different location (like Gdrive, Icloud and similar). After you do that, you can start updating your WordPress safely.
There are several ways to update WordPress. We will give you detailed instructions on how to do it the easiest way:
Go to the admin area of your WordPress, then select the Dashboard > Updates page. This is the page where you see notifications about the availability of new versions of WordPress.
To start the update simply click the Update Now button, and WordPress will do the rest. It will retrieve the latest version and install it.
After the update is finished, you will be redirected to the WordPress Welcome screen. Major releases often come with a page that explains all the new features that are introduced. This step is not obligatory but it is good to know about all the cool, new features.
There is no step 4. Yes, the WordPress update is that simple.
Now, you might wonder what happens during an update. While the update is in progress, you can put all your worries about potential unavailability of your website for visitors aside. The upgrade only puts it in the maintenance mode for a couple of minutes. If you wanted to install a new theme or a plugin, you would have to be patient only until the update is finished. The progress of the update will be visible on the screen, so you will easily know how much longer the update is going to take. The good news is that they usually take up to 10 minutes tops, and many users report it took them only seconds!
To see whether the update was successful, go to your website in a new browser and check if it is working properly. Then go to the WP admin area and take a look at the settings menu. Although there are cases where an update caused some issues for the website, these are usually exceptions to the rule that include some kind of mishap. They are extremely rare and certainly not a justified reason to skip the update. Just make sure to back up all the WordPress data before and bear in mind that security is the number one reason for the update. In case you face any issue, consider the fact that WP currently powers 75 million websites which means someone must have come across the same issue and knows how to solve it. That’s why it is a good idea to be a member of a WP forum or join some WP online community with a reputation. This way you will be able to exchange experiences with other users. You can also find many lists of the most common WP errors online as well as instructions on how to fix them.
If you decide to enter the wondrous world of WordPress, you become a member of the huge, international WP family of developers, bloggers, programmers, site owners, and similar people and you should enjoy all of its benefits. One of the ways to do so, is to upgrade it regularly. With all the advantages that regular updates offer as well as the simplicity of the procedure, there is no reason to avoid or postpone it.
In the end, let’s wrap it all up in just one sentence: backup, update, keep your website safe and enjoy all the WP possibilities!
We hope this article was helpful. If you liked it, feel free to check out some of these articles as well!