Tips For Updating WordPress Safely

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Wp UpdateWordPress is one of the most popular content management systems in the world, and for good reason. Not only is it free, stable and easy to use, it receives the support of constant updates from its wide community of professional and amateur developers. While plug-ins are updated as the original creator finds in necessary, the core WordPress engine has regular improvements and modifications made by the original development team with the aim to improve usability and performance. However this can mean that the main WordPress code updates beyond the plug-ins or theme you have installed, causing them to break. That’s why it’s important to take care when updating, and there are several things you can do to protect your website and all your hard work.

  1. Back it up. Before attempting to do any WordPress core or plugin updates make sure you have a solid backup procedure in place and your current website is fully backed up. At the end of the day having a backup you can revert to is the only thing that can really help if things don’t go right in the upgrade process. Using backup plugins such as BackWPup can prove invaluable.
  2. Do your research. If you do need to upgrade, check blogs and forums for people’s experiences with plugin upgrades beforehand. If there is an issue with a particular plugin and your version of WordPress you will find this out pretty quickly by doing a little bit of research.
  3. Hold fire on major updates. Big updates are the ones most likely to wreak havoc on your installed plug-ins, and can in general just have a number of bugs and issues that are the result of major changes to the system. These will become rapidly apparent as the community collectively updates them, however it can take several weeks for the WordPress team to fix them. Therefore unless you desperately need functionality or a feature provided by a major upgrade, it’s usually much better to wait. If you do need to upgrade, check blogs and forums for people’s experiences beforehand.
  4. Test one thing at a time. Unfortunately even when you upgrade with a fairly stable version, there can be specific compatibility problems with what you already have installed. If something goes awry, it can probably be traced back to either your theme or your plugins. Start with the theme, and Google to see if other people are having issues and whether the creator has released a solution. If you can, install a fresh version of the new WordPress on a dummy site if you can and activate the theme without any plugins. If it works, move on to plugins. Deactivate and reactivate one by one until you find the one that’s giving you grief.

Updating WordPress can add extra functionality and security, but it can also cause compatibility problems that require patience and testing to solve, so it pays to tread cautiously.

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Katie is a lover of words and art, born and raised in Christchurch. With a BA in English and Japanese, she’s happiest tapping away at her keyboard writing copy or articles, or else working on the latest illustration. To balance the creative side, Katie is also very motivated and a bit of a perfectionist, which helps with her SEO duties. Although her hobbies could probably be described as art, art and more art, she also enjoys long walks, good friends and travel.

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