WordPress releases many updates throughout the year. Sometimes these updates add new features to WordPress and sometimes they are for making WordPress more secure, stable, and fast. This means that you will have to update your WordPress website regularly. But exactly when should you update your WordPress website? Should you update WordPress as soon as you get an update, or should you wait for a few days?
Ideally, you should wait for 2 to 7 days before updating WordPress. This will give you enough time to find out if there are any major issues with the new WordPress update. If you don’t find any major issues, then it is safe to update your WordPress website.
But this is easier said than done. After all, how do you find out if there are any major issues with the new WordPress update? What if you also get updates to your theme and plugins at the same time? Should you update WordPress first, or the theme and plugins?
I will answer all these questions and a few more in this guide. So keep reading…
Exactly When Should You Update WordPress?
Ideally, you should follow the below steps in sequence to update WordPress:
- Wait For 2-7 Days Before Updating WordPress
- Ensure That There Are No Major Issues Reported For The WordPress Update
- Take Full Manual Backup
- Update Your WordPress Theme
- Update Your WordPress Plugins
- Update WordPress
Let’s talk about each of these steps in detail now…
STEP 1: Wait For 2-7 Days Before Updating WordPress
WordPress updates are usually safe. They do not tend to break websites.
However, it is always better to be cautious.
Just because something hasn’t happened yet, doesn’t mean that it will never happen.
So I would recommend that you wait for at least 2 to 7 days before updating WordPress.
If there are any major issues, then someone will report them in the first couple of days.
And the majority of the other issues should get reported over a week’s time.
So it is better to wait for 2-7 days at least before updating WordPress.
But how do you know if any issues are reported for the new WordPress update?
STEP 2: Ensure That There Are No Major Issues Reported For The WordPress Update
This step is a bit time-consuming.
You will need to keep a check on the WordPress Support Forum to see if people are reporting any major issues with the latest WordPress update.
It would make sense to check the forum 2-3 days after a WordPress update is released.
If you see any major issues being reported, then you should not update WordPress.
In this case, you should wait for the next WordPress update to be released addressing the reported issues.
Now, one thing that you should be cautious about is that in general people will complain about everything on the internet. So most likely you will see forum posts indicating that the sky is falling since the last WordPress update.
Use your judgment.
Most of the times, the issues people face are only specific to their websites because they might have installed some unnecessary themes or plugins.
You might never encounter such issues.
So look at every forum post objectively.
Another great way to find any issues with the new WordPress update is through Facebook Groups.
There are a lot of Facebook Groups on WordPress.
Join a couple of them and ask if anyone else is seeing any issues with the latest WordPress update.
This way, you will save your time as well as get immediate feedback from people.
Alright, now considering that there are no major issues found, it’s time for the next step…
STEP 3: Take Full Manual Backup
Before you start updating themes, plugins, and WordPress, you should take a full manual backup of your website.
And by “full backup”, I mean a complete backup of WordPress files and database.
You need to do this just to make sure that in case any updates cause issues, you can rollback your website to the previous working state.
Take a full manual backup, don’t rely on the automated backups that your Web Host takes.
Nowadays, many Web Hosting companies give a way to take full manual backups. All you need to do is to just click a button to take the backups.
But every Web Host has different ways of taking manual backups.
If you don’t know how to take full manual backups, then contact your Web Host Support team.
They should be able to help you out.
Also, make sure that you understand how to restore the backup in case something goes wrong during the update.
And because every Web Host has a different way of restoring the backups, you should check with the Support team of your Web Host.
Now, once you have taken a full manual backup, it is time to start the update process…
STEP 4: Update Your WordPress Theme
If you see that an update is available for your WordPress Theme, then first update your theme.
This will ensure that when you update WordPress, your website will not break.
Most of the times, theme developers release an update to their themes just before a major WordPress update is released to make sure that their themes are compatible with the latest version of WordPress.
And at the same time, they also make sure that their theme updates do not cause any issues with the current version of WordPress.
So it makes sense to update your WordPress theme before updating WordPress.
Now that your theme is updated, it is time to update the plugins…
STEP 5: Update Your WordPress Plugins
Similar to themes, many plugin developers also release an update to their plugins before a major WordPress update is released to ensure that their plugins don’t break with the latest version of WordPress.
So it is a good idea to update your plugins before updating WordPress.
This way you will ensure that your website will not break after updating WordPress.
Now, onto the last step…
STEP 6: Update WordPress
Alright! Finally, it is time to update WordPress.
By performing Steps 1 to 5 above, you have basically ensured that your WordPress update should go through fine.
And in case it does not, then you have the manual backup of your website which you can use to rollback your website to its previous state.
So go ahead and update WordPress.
You can easily do it from your WordPress Admin Panel.
And once WordPress update completes successfully, pat yourself on the back.
You have done an excellent job.
Your website is now updated with the latest version of WordPress.
Okay, now what?
What Should You Do After Updating WordPress?
Test, Test, and then Test some more…
You should test your website to make sure that everything is working fine.
Just because you took all the precautions, it does not mean that everything has gone well.
So you will need to do spot checks on your website to ensure that your website is running fine.
Visit the important pages of your website, check your newsletter form, check your contact form, and check every page that you think is critical for your website and your business.
After all, you don’t want a stupid WordPress update to disrupt your business.
Should You Update WordPress Manually or Automatically?
Ideally, you should update WordPress manually because it gives you more control on when to update WordPress as well as it ensures that you can catch any issues with the updates early.
However, some Managed WordPress Web Hosting companies will do the WordPress updates for you.
These automatic updates are safe because such Web Hosts test every WordPress update before updating your website. They will also rollback the update if any issues are found after the update.
That is the reason why Managed WordPress Web Hosting is costly.
But it is worth the money.
However, some Web Hosts will just set your WordPress installation to update automatically.
You should not allow this to happen.
Check with the Support team of your Web Hosting company and ask them to disable any automatic WordPress updates.
They should be able to help you out.
To save some time, you can even ask for minor WordPress updates to get installed automatically while all major WordPress updates to require manual installation.
This can be easily set up by your Web Host.
Okay, now let’s look at some…
Is it really necessary to update WordPress? Yes. You should always update WordPress. This will ensure that your WordPress website remains secure, stable, and fast. Not only that, but you will also get new features with some WordPress updates.
Will A WordPress Update Break My Website? Not really. And even if it does break your website, you can easily rollback the update using the manual backup that you must have taken before performing the update.
It’s now time to…
I hope you have got a good idea of when to update WordPress and how to go about it.
If you still have any questions, ask them in the comments below. I would love to answer them.
And if you found this guide useful, then please share it with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, etc. I would really appreciate that.