Updating WordPress – everything that you need to know

In this blog post I tell you (almost) everything there is to know on updating WordPress.

Why should you need to update WordPress?

  • Security updates – people with bad intentions can use a security loop and exploit your blog; you can have problems such as – blog removal, blog posts removal, access to the database of newsletter subscribers via WordPress, spamming with your blog (which will lead with problems with the search engines and a bad reputation for you/your company);
  • Bug fixes – sometimes you hit a button in WordPress; well, in most cases, the problem is with you; in other, rarer, cases, the problem is with WordPress; in that case, it’s best that you upgrade, so that the minor issues are solved;
  • A better WordPress – sometimes it’s not really a fix of a problem (be it a security or just a bug fix); instead, it might be a new feature; thus, WordPress might improve on something you didn’t even know you need it;

Do you really need to update?

If it’s only a minor version, with no security updates, you can skip an update; if it’s a major update, with lots of security updates, bug fixes, and a lot of new features – then yes, in this case it’s a sure need for a new WordPress;

Cautions?

  • Sometimes plugins don’t work; it’s best that you also update your plugins;
  • Sometimes, an older plugin might cause some problems with a new version of WordPress (the plugin, being old, hasn’t been tested in the new version of WordPress); for this, it’s best that you disable all of your plugins prior to updating WordPress, and then only reactivate the plugins which are compatible with the new version;
  • If you use the default theme in WordPress, it will be updated; have you done any changes in the structure of that theme? Oh, well, those changes are lost; so, I advise you to back-up your default theme (comes with WordPress), if you’ve done changes to it;
  • If you update a theme, logically, you lose settings which you’ve done to the theme files; some themes do allow for translations, or external CSS files, and some themes also have options – you won’t lose any of these, but you will lose the theme files (if you changed them, you will lose the settings);
  • The same goes for updating a plugin which comes with WordPress, plugin for which you have altered the core files;
  • Sometimes themes will have problems with newer versions of WordPress; it’s best that you do update your themes also;

Requirements

You should always check WordPress requirements (such as a PHP or MySQL version) prior to updating;

Things to do prior to update

  • Back-up the database (you can use a plugin);
  • Back-up the wp-content folder via FTP; details;
  • Deactivate the plugins, if they are not updated to the latest version and haven’t been tested on the current version of WordPress;

How to update?

  • Automatic update:
    • Click the link in the new version banner, if there is one; or
    • Go to Tools -> Upgrade/Update menu;
  • Manual update:
    • Get the latest WordPress via an archive, and unzip it;
    • Overwrite files via FTP (pay attention to already existing files in the WP-Content folder, such as plugins or themes that you may have altered manually);

Steps after the update

  • Sometimes an automatic update fails, and it creates a file called “.maintenance”, right in the root of your WordPress; remove that file;
  • Run the database upgrade script (if necessary);

If everything goes smoothly, your WordPress will be successfully upgraded.

Extra readings:

Note: also see – BitDefender Antivirus.

I am a Freelancer. My expertise is in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) / UX (user experience) / WordPress. Co-founder of lumeaseoppc.ro (series of events on SEO & PPC) and cetd.ro (Book on branding for MDs). On a personal level, I like self-development - events, sports, healthy living, volunteering, reading. I live in London, and lots of things live in me.

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