Best Process to Perform WordPress Updates

On a daily basis a message comes into my inbox to notify me of the latest WordPress Core, Plugins and Theme updates related to the websites I manage. This allows me to take the necessary actions required to ensure each website is properly up to date.

At the end of October, the WordPress 4.8.3 update was released, which should have been updated automatically or you should have updated it manually. Either way the latest version of WordPress on your website should be or should have been WordPress 4.8.3.

So today – 16 November 2017  saw the release of a WordPress Core update – WordPress 4.9 ‘Tipton’ how exciting. The latest version  is named “Tipton” in honor of jazz musician and band leader Billy Tipton – guess that’s one for you jazz fans, cos frankly I had never heard of him until today!

Anyway, having done the necessaries to safeguard the websites I manage, I thought it would be good to share the steps taken to make all the required updates following the release of ‘Tipton, and any minor or Core updates hereon in.

Bearing in mind that I use a dedicated scanning, syncing and updating system for managing multiple website updates, my starting point is a little different, however I will go through the process as if I had one only website.

 

Why Update?

The point of updating to the latest releases is based on the fact that  WordPress Core, plugin and theme software is vulnerable due to the open source technology on which it is built on. Open source software allows anyone to view, edit and modify its files and this is where the issue lies. The files in open source software can be manipulated for many purposes including:

  • Unauthorised website access
  • Obtaining sensitive data
  • Adding viruses, malware and other infectious code/content

With such potential issues, one of the most important ways to reduce the risk of these vulnerabilities affecting your website is to ensure you stay on top of updating to the latest software versions once they are released.  This requires consistent monitoring and the ability to log on to your website at any time to perform updates. So now we have covered briefly why we need to update, next we move on to how best to perform a WordPress Core update.

 

Preparing to Update

Accessing the update

Log in to your website where you will find an update message from WordPress in the Admin area

Click ‘Please update now’ and you will be taken to the WordPress Updates page where you can view all updates for WordPress, Plugins and Themes.

 

 

 

Note the 9 in the red circle is telling me I have 9 available updates relating to plugins and themes. When you log in and see the red circle with a number in it go and check what needs updating and do it there and then!

 

 

Backup your website

Once you are on your WordPress Updates page, you will see another important notice at the top of the page advising you to ‘back up your database and files’ – do it!

Due to the nature of a WordPress Core update some areas of  your site may experience issues and things may get broken, performing a full backup of your website will allow you to restore your website if something happens once you have performed the WordPress update.

 

So now we have performed a backup we are good to go – Let’s update!

 

Updating Process

You should think about updating in the order listed below as once a WordPress update is released, developers will update their plugins and themes in line with it.  You may also notice that the order in which WordPress lays out updates on the WordPress Updates page on the back of your website, follows the order below too:

 

  • WordPress – protects framework and core functions

  • Plugins – protects specific functions

  • Themes – protects the appearance and theme based functions

 

To make it more memorable let’s call it the WPT updating process as further outlined below

 

W

WordPress

P

Plugins

T

Themes

 

Ensure the whole framework of your website is protected first by updating your WordPress software. Then update your plugins to protect the additional functions they provide to your website.

Most plugins are not theme related and would therefore need to be updated as soon as the latest WordPress version is released.

Finally protect the appearance and functions provided by your theme by updating to the latest version of your theme.

 

Note: Depending on the plugin and theme developers, an updated version may not be released quickly, if at all. If you are concerned that a plugin release is too slow or not happened as expected, your best bet is to deactivate and reactivate once the latest version is out or in some cases delete!

 

After updating

Check your website, if it’s all okay, sit back relax and go have a nice drink, whatever your tipple. If it is not okay, identify the issue(s) and see how they can be rectified without causing further issues. If you have a backup install it, which may help and if not get professional help! There is no point in wasting  time trying to fix an issue or working out what the issue is if that is not your area of expertise.

 

I hope this was useful, let me know in the comments below.

 

Happy Core Update and welcome to Tipton! 🙂

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