Join Morten Rand-Hendriksen for an in-depth discussion in this video Keeping up to date, part of WordPress 4 Essential Training.
- By far the easiest and most important step to ensure your WordPress site remains safe and secure, is to always keep WordPress itself as well as your themes and plugins up to date. This process is made as easy as possible with auto-updates and simple in-app updaters and it's important to know where these are and how to use them. So, let's take a look at how to ensure you're always running the latest version of your software. Watching this course, you may have noticed that I'm recording the course using a beta version of WordPress You can see it up here. It say's WordPress 4.3 beta.
And there's also a little notification on the bottom of the screen down here saying, I'm using a development version. That's because I'm recording this course before the release of WordPress 4.3 and it'll be released alongside WordPress 4.3 and unfortunately, I don't have a time machine so I can't go forward in time to record after it was released and then come back here, so that's why. That also means to demonstrate to you how to do WordPress updates, I have to downgrade WordPress first but rather than doing that on the live site, which would take a long time, I've decided to set-up a duplicate of the site on my own computer and then install an older version of WordPress so right now, I'm running WordPress 4.2.1 as you can see here, along with the 2015 theme.
Now, here's the thing. WordPress actually updates itself automatically. So, for example, now that I'm running WordPress 4.2.1, there is a new version of WordPress out, WordPress 4.2.2. and if I just leave this site alone for a couple of hours, it will actually update itself to WordPress 4.2.2, however, that only happens for what's known as point releases, so that means from .1 to .2 and so on. The auto-update does not happen when when you're jumping from version to version.
When you run an older version of WordPress and you log into the back-end, you'll immediately be notified that you're running an older version. As you can see in the Toolbar, I have this icon up here that tells me I currently have 10 updates available: one WordPress update,five plugin updates and four theme updates. I'm also notified on every single page that WordPress 4.2.2 is available and it says, Please update now. In addition to this, I can see all my updates here in the Main Menu, you can see that under Dashboard, I have updates, ten, under plugins, I have updates, five and if I go into Appearance, you'll see that in my Themes, I also have a series of themes that need to be updated.
Now I could go to Dashboard, select Updates and then run both updates on everything or I can go into the individual sections and update one piece of the core at a time. I'm going to do a bit of both so first let's update WordPress itself. As you saw, we are running WordPress 4.2.1 and WordPress 4.2.2 is available so when you click on the Updates tab from the Dashboard or the Updates button here in the Toolbar, you are taken to the WordPress Updates page, where you can click on Update Now to update WordPress itself.
Now WordPress will be downloaded from the Web unpacked and installed on your site and then the database is updated and everything goes through and when everything is done, you land on the Welcome to WordPress 4. whatever page that tells you now you are running the current version. Now if I go back to the Dashboard and Updates, you'll see that instead of telling me you're running an old version of WordPress and here's how to update, you're now told, you can reinstall WordPress from scratch if you're having a problem with it and you can also download the application right from here.
Now that we've updated WordPress itself, it's time to update plugins and themes but like I said, you can do that from this page just by selecting All plugins and clicking Update plugins and then WordPress will run through each of them in turn on updating them. You can also go to Plugins, here you see which plugins are not up to date so you can see them highlighted. There's a new version of Akismet and you can either click update now, in which case, it will update automatically or you can select Updates Available. This will give you a list of all of them and then you can highlight all of them and use the Bulk Actions to update all of them at the same time.
This actually takes you to the same page as you would if you went through Dashboard, so it's just a different way of getting to it. Once all your plugins are updated, you can go back to the Plugins page, make sure that everything is still working because in some rare cases, you'll see that plugins get deactivated when they get updated so you may want to reactivate them or there might be new settings that are added and anytime you update a plugin, make sure you know what's happening when you update it because more often than not, when you update a plugin, you get new features and functionality.
While some plugins will tell you about those new features and functionalities, while others don't, so you need to really check what you're doing when you make these updates. You also have some themes that need to be updated. So if you go to Appearance and Themes, you're going to see here, some of my themes are out of date. Now you can update these directly from this view by clicking Update Available and then clicking Update Now in the modal window. This will download the new version of the theme and replace the old one and then you can return to the Themes page and see the theme is now up to date or you can go to Dashboard again, Updates, highlight all your themes, click Update Themes and then the batch process will run through each of your themes in turn.
So now my WordPress is up to date and this is what you want to see. Your WordPress site, your themes and your plugins should always be up to date and here I want to address a very common question I get. A lot of people are afraid of updating either WordPress or their themes or their plugins because in the past, they've experienced something breaking when they do that and it's true! In some very rare cases, updating WordPress or a theme or a plugin may break your site, however, that usually only happens if there's something odd going on our site to begin with. My rule of thumb here is, whenever there is a new version of WordPress, always make the update because you're getting the latest version of the application and all of the security features.
When it comes to plugins and themes, I also recommend updating because usually when people add updates to plugins and themes, it's either to add functionality or to add security measures, however, in some rare cases, themes or plugins may not have been coded properly so when you update WordPress, there will be a coding conflict between a theme and WordPress itself, or a plugin and WordPress itself and in those cases, the update experience will actually take down the site completely. Now, we're going to address that later on in this chapter because it's a common occurrence and I'll show you how to address it but the reality is whenever that happens, it's actually not the fault of WordPress, it's usually the fault of bad code on your site and you need to be able to make that distinction so every time there's an update from WordPress, do the update.
And any time, theme or plugin is updated, do that as well. Do not fear the update. It is far more dangerous to leave your WordPress site un-updated.
Note: This course covers an older version of WordPress, which features the Classic Editor. Watch this course only if you are using the Classic Editor plugin or using WordPress 4.9 or earlier. Otherwise, watch WordPress 5 Essential Training, which covers the new Block Editor experience.
- Creating posts and pages
- Formatting text
- Publishing and scheduling posts
- Adding images, audio, and video
- Bulk editing posts and pages
- Customizing themes and menus
- Using widgets
- Extending WordPress with plugins
- Editing users profiles
- Configuring settings
- Getting new readers
- Keeping WordPress up to date and secure