I remember the first time I hit the “update WordPress” button. Oh boy, I was sweating bullets. What would happen? What if it crashed? What if I clicked on the update button wrong or picked the wrong day… I was so nervous. A totally newbie at WordPress – an expert at breaking it (that’s how I learn break it and then figure out how to fix it…)
I wasn’t sure how to restore it if something went wrong. WordPress has these nice little warnings “backup your database and files” and then suggests you visit WordPress on how to Update WordPress. So I started reading that and instantly my eyes glazed over and I was lost.
Thankfully I have learned a few things since then and updating multiple WordPress websites in a single day does not worry or concern me nearly as much as it used to. Now I have the steps down, the experience in place and the tools and resources I need to fully backup a website, get it all updated and heaven forbid, restore it if needed.
Why should keep WordPress updated?
WordPress is a massively popular program and is becoming even more popular each year. According to WordPress:
Over 60 million people have chosen WordPress to power the place on the web they call “home”. WordPress.org
This makes it a target for hackers who have nothing better to do with their time then try to get into a WordPress website that they don’t have access too. Crazy right? Your website is an investment in your business with a goal of developing into an asset. It needs to be protected as such.
Keeping your site updated on a regular basis is part of that protection process.
You get cool new features. With the last big update (there are big ones with a whole slew of new features and then smaller updates with less of an impact on the interface) there was a big shift in the addition of tools and features that made managing a website easier and more intuitive. One of my favorite new features has been the drag and drop menu builder which was introduced in version 3.0.
#3 Future Proofing Your Site
When you do not update your site you will run into issues months or years down the line – not only in terms of security but when an awesome new plugin is introduced and you want to use it on your site it will probably say it needs a certain version of WordPress or above. If your WordPress is too old of a version it will not allow you to use that new plugin until the site is updated.
I have a specific set of steps I take to update a website that creates a full backup of the site and installs the updates. Not hard but comes from years of trial and error and working with different backup services to find the one I like best. It’s almost down to a science and I’m way faster at it now then I was years ago.
For example I recently had a client circle back after a couple of years and needed help getting their site whipped into shape and updated to the most recent version of WordPress. When I saw how old the WordPress version was – I realized my standard process wouldn’t work, I would need to do it all manually. Again, not hard, I’ve been doing long enough to know what I am doing, but does take about 4x longer, more costly for the client and has the potential for more things going wrong during the update process.
I know – this is a repeat – but it is so important. Over the last 3-4 years I have been sent too many new clients with sites that did not have their backups performed, updates installed on a regular basis and even worse did not have the proper security settings in place. At worst their site is being blocked and blacklisted by Google at the least the site isn’t working like it should. Either way the headaches, the cost, and the frustration could be avoided if the site is had been on a regular maintenance schedule.
When is the last time you updated your site?