Your website is a living thing! It’s part of the worldwide web ecosystem that never stops growing and changing. We’ve talked before about how you can keep your website fresh with small updates that can have a big impact. Today, we’re back to discuss another tactic, ensuring your plugins and WordPress version are up to date.
Staying current is essential to the well-being of your website. Why? Here’s a few of the top reasons:
1. Security fixes. Did you know that WordPress powers about 28% of sites on the web today and that developers have created more than 50,000 plugins for WordPress sites? This means more robust, custom functionality for you — but it also means your site is a more likely target for hackers. Often, updates to plugins and WordPress itself involve security-related fixes. The longer you wait to update, the more time you give hackers to exploit the vulnerabilities of the previous versions.
Related reading: Why are hackers interested in your website?
2. General bug fixes. Removing bugs that cause plugins or WordPress to malfunction are another focus of updates. Installing the latest version can help ensure that your website’s functionality remains in good working condition.
3. New features. Occasionally, updates will incorporate new features that may be useful for you and your site! This can include additional functionality for the plugins on your site, or improvements made to the WordPress content management system (CMS).
4. Support for issues. Over time, the support available for older versions of WordPress or a plugin can dwindle. If something goes wrong, you want to know that you can find help for your issues in a timely manner, which may not be possible if your site is out of date.
Now you know the reasons, you can take the next step and see if you currently have updates to install! Check this by logging into your WordPress CMS and selecting “Dashboard” then “Updates” from the sidebar menu. This page will show you updates for WordPress as well as any plugins you have installed.
If you see no persisting updates, take a couple minutes instead to sign up for email notifications in WordPress. You’ll be alerted to updates as they are announced. (By the way, WordPress 4.9 is slated for a mid-November release!)
If you have updates waiting, follow these tips:
- Create a backup of your site and database. Nothing is perfect. Before you hit that update button, you’ll want to have a backup copy of your site and database that you can restore later if necessary.
- Test updates in a development environment first. Before applying updates to your live site, we recommend testing in a development environment. If the updates don’t work properly, the live version of your site won’t be affected at all.
We can also complete the updates for you if you’re not comfortable handling it yourself. Reach out to us and we’ll be glad to lend a hand!