How to update WordPress the right way

Worked as a ghost author for my good friend Francesco’s website, who is a WordPress expert and software developer. To see the published article, click here.

Updating WordPress is as easy as updating your smartphones. With a single click, you will get the greatest and latest version of the WordPress engine running on your website. But, most of us hesitate to update our WordPress websites. No matter how big the update is or how cool the features are, we’re not interested in updating the website; Why? Because we have qualms about it.

The main doubts that a website owner usually have are,

  • What if the new update ruins my website during the sales season?
  • What if my custom-made theme doesn’t work properly with the new update?
  • What if I lost important data on my website?

I completely understand your fear. But keeping your website without updating for a long time is like leaving for a long vacation without locking your doors; it is that risky.

Updating your WordPress website the right way will save you from all the IFs mentioned above. And that is what we are going to see in this post, how to update WordPress. By following the steps mentioned below, you will get your same old comfy website running on the latest WordPress engine.

What Do We Get In The New WordPress Updates?

The biggest problem with WordPress update is we don’t see any visual overhaul in the design. As most of the updates are on the backend and developer-oriented, general users don’t see the necessity of updating it. The three main things which we get in WordPress update are

  • Security
  • Performance
  • Support for new features and tools

Data privacy is very important nowadays. Tech giants like Apple and Google release OS updates regularly to keep the user’s data secure. WordPress is also releasing updates for the same reason. 86% of sites are hacked due to outdated WordPress installs, plugins, and themes. As a website owner, it is our duty to protect our user’s data. In each update, bugs and security-patches are released to tackle new threats. Digital security experts always say that making a fail-proof security system is not possible, but we can toughen the security by regularly updating it.

Another biggest advantage of updating WordPress is you can use the latest plugins and features. Today’s website designs are so natural and easy to use. If you like to implement such new intuitive designs on your website, you must need the current version of WordPress. New plugins and other tools are also developed to support the new version of WordPress. So updating your website won’t break your website; instead, it will make the website strong against security threats and helps your site to perform better.

How To Update WordPress Properly

We understand why an updated WordPress website is important; now, let’s see how to update WordPress properly. Updating WordPress hardly takes few minutes. If you are running on a very old WordPress version, it may take a little bit longer. There are three phases in updating a WordPress website.

  1. Backup
  2. Update Themes And Plugins
  3. Finally, Update WordPress Core

Website Backup

Taking a backup of your website is a precautionary measure. If something went wrong, you still have the backup to restore your website. When it comes to backup, there are plenty of ways to do it. If your hosting provider gives you a periodic backup option, please use it. From the technical side and for ease of use, the server-side backups are more reliable. I have made a complete guide on choosing a perfect hosting for your website; take a look at it to know more.

Another most common method used to backup your website is using a backup plugin. There are plenty of trusted backup plugins; the best ones are.

Most of the plugins mentioned above offer both free and premium versions. Based on your need, go for the one you like. Now, I give a quick overview of how to back your WordPress website with the UpdraftPlus plugin.

1. Install and activate the Updraft Plus plugin. Once you have successfully installed and activated the plugins, Go to Settings>UpdraftPlus backups; it will open the UpdraftPlus dashboard.

2. Setup your backup schedule and select where to keep your backup. With UpdraftPlus you have plenty of storage options right from Dropbox to Google clouds. Based on your preference pick the storage location you like.

3. Since we are going to update the WordPress website, select all the checkboxes.

4. Go back to the “Current status” tab and click “Backup Now” button to manually backup the website.  

Before updating the themes and plugins, make sure to switch off the Caching plugin (if you are using one). Because updating WordPress with the Caching plugins on, may cause some malfunctions.

Update Themes And Plugins

There are two ways to update your WordPress theme and plugins. One is the regular orthodox way and the other using the WordPress Update page.

In the regular method, you just visit the Plugins option on your dashboard and update the outdated plugins.

Updating themes totally depends on the type of theme you use. If you buy a premium theme that gets regular updates, you can simply visit the Appearance>Themes page and can update the theme. If you are using a custom made theme, then reach your theme developer to know about compatibility.

Pro Tip: To avoid unnecessary errors, try staging your website and check whether the new update works fine on your custom theme and with other plugins.

In the second method,  when you click the Update option on your dashboard sidebar, you will be taken to a page that shows the plugins needed to be updated. After updating the plugins, you can simply update the themes just like you had done with the Plugins. Select the themes needed to be updated and click the “update themes” button.

WP Core Update

Now all our themes and plugins are ready, we can update the WordPress core. Just like your smartphones, WordPress gets OTA (over-the-air-update). All you have to do is to click the “Update Now Button”.

Depending upon the download size and internet connections, this may take a while. During this update, your WordPress website will be in maintenance mode. Meaning you can’t access your dashboards, but your visitors can still see your website. Once the update is over, you will be redirected to the WordPress welcome screen.

If you are making a big update with a fresh new WordPress theme and features, try to put your website in maintenance mode before starting the update process. There are plenty of WordPress Maintenance Mode Plugins to help you with this.

Make A Quick Check

Once everything is finished, you will be able to access your dashboard. Login to your WordPress admin page and see whether all the pages,posts, and settings are there as before. If your website is running as expected, just continue your work.

For websites owners with multiple websites, you can’t visit every single website and continue this process. Try using services like ManageWP, where you can easily manage all your updates and backups in one place.

As you can see, updating WordPress isn’t a tough job. Knowing some basic bugs and taking precautionary measures like full backup and staging website before updating will save you from the nightmares you imagined about updating a WordPress website. Hope you fellas find this how to update WordPress tutorial useful. If you have any doubt or issue while updating your WordPress just let me know in the comment section below.

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