When using WordPress, it is vital to keep your site updated. There are three parts of a WordPress site that can be updated:

  1. The WordPress core
  2. The plugins you are have installed
  3. Your WordPress theme – provided that your changes went into a child theme

One of the reasons why WordPress website owners or managers don’t take advantage of the updates available is because they are unaware of its benefits. That’s understandable since not all WordPress users are designers, developers or webmasters.

Updates fix bugs and security issues and improve your site functionality and performance. Ignoring these updates means leaving your WordPress site open to vulnerabilities and attackers – as if a red carpet is rolled out inviting hackers to add spam on your site.

You can see in the report below that WordPress dominates as top web publishing platform for blogs and CMS sites in general. More than 60% of them run on WordPress which makes it a juicy target for hackers.

We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to regularly upgrade your WordPress site and your plugins.

You won’t miss an update for WordPress itself as WordPress prompts you to update when there is a new version available – but outdated WordPress plugins are the ones that are less noticeable. When you see that red little circle with a white number that appears next to the Plugins menu, there are new updates available and you should update as soon as possible.

Updating WordPress is almost too simple – an all updated site is only a few clicks away. However, you should take some precautions before you updating. You need to have a recent backup of your site – which should be created a regular basis anyway. It can happen that an update introduces new issues – or even a tiny chance it might break your site – so if something goes wrong while upgrading, you need to have the option to restore the previous version from a backup.

There are major updates which you should test on a staging site first – upgrading WooCommerce from 2.0 to 2.1 for example. There are different ways to clone your live site to a staging site:

  • If you went with wpengine.com, you’re lucky as your site already has a one click solution built in.
  • There is the free Sandbox plugin on wordpress.org. Read more about it in this post on wptavern.com.
  • Another hosted solution would be wpstagecoach.com – but you’ll need to sign up as a beta tester for now.
  • If all fails or you’re looking for more manual control, have a look at the WP Migrate DB plugin – there is an excellent Pro version available as well.

Is your WordPress website updated?

Maybe now is the time for a routine health check 🙂