What are WordPress Updates?

And Why You Should Care

WordPress is an open source content management system (CMS) to manage websites. Approximately 35% of all websites are powered by WordPress and WordPress dominates the CMS market with almost 60% using WordPress. [source: techjury, 2020] That’s a heck of a lot of websites! 

There's a few challenges for WordPress, including:

  • It's popularity makes it a nice target for hackers and spammers. 
  • Because it's open source, everyone is welcomed to be a part of the community and contribute to development. New WordPress themes, plugins and add-ons are being added to the repository and being sold on marketplaces across the globe. Developers are able to edit source code and modify elements.
  • Many users are just ordinary business people and not web professionals - they don't know how to manage the technical responsibilities of owning a website built with a CMS system.

Here are some questions and answers to help you understand what’s involved with maintaining and updating your WordPress website, and security considerations to keep in mind. 

WordPress updates are like any other technological updates that are applied across the board to devices and apps you use every day. My PC computer’s Windows operating system is updated every Tuesday. My cell phone processes updates provided intermittently by my cell phone provider. Likewise, our PS4 gaming system has a major update every month or so. Your WordPress website is no different. 

Essentially your updates fall into 3 main categories: 

  1. Security updates: A flaw in the code has been detected and the author is sending out a security patch. 
  2. Coding fixes: An error or glitch has been detected and the owner is sending out a fix. 
  3. New Features: The author has developed updates, upgrades or added functionality and is passing it along to its users. 

Updates are really important! 

There are 4 main parts of a WordPress website that can be updated: 

  1. The WordPress core
  2. Themes
  3. Plugins
  4. Database

It’s easy. Login to your WordPress website admin area and look at the top of your left navigation for Dashboard. On hover, you’ll see Updates and you can click on that to see the entire list of required updates. 

Some updates need to be manually installed and applied. It depends on where you purchased the asset and on the terms and conditions of use. 

Definitely. Some updates are really minor and some are major upgrades. A good clue as to whether you are approaching a minor or major update is by looking at the version number of the update. If you have an update going from v. 1.4.5 to 1.4.6, this is a minor update. Less precautions need to be taken. If you have a new number being released, this signals a big update and more precautions should be adhered to. 

For major updates, ensure you have a complete backup of your website and database before proceeding. Also, wait to do the update at a time when there will be less website traffic. 

Yes! It’s a bit traumatic and scary the first time for sure. 

In fact, the first time I ever pressed “update” I just sat there waiting for the website to implode. It didn’t happen of course. 

Nowadays, WordPress has finally put safeguards in place to protect against broken websites. What I’ve found recently is that if an update fails, WordPress reverts to the previous version and gives you an error message. 

You are playing with fire. Your site will eventually stop working properly or break entirely. Eventually, your site could get hacked into and infected with Malware or worse. 

The Best Defence Is A Good Offence

Here are some tips to keep your WordPress website in good working order and safe from attacks: 

  • Backup your website to a remote server on a schedule. Automate this process with a plugin.
  • Install a security plugin on your website and lock it down.
  • Update your website regularly and continuously. You can even install a plugin that notifies you when you need an update.
  • Some updates you can program to auto-update.
  • Subscribe to security newsletters that will inform you about security breaches and what to do about them.
  • Hire a professional web developer to handle the process for you!

Get Help With Your WordPress Updates

Sign up for one of our affordable update packages and keep your website investment protected!

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Allison Kessler
Allison Kessler is your inspiring website strategist guiding online entrepreneurs and small business owners through the creative website (re)design process to profitable online businesses 🌟

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