How Do WordPress Updates Work?
Maintaining a WordPress website involves a lot of work.
Apart from constantly improving the look and feel of the site, including the content and visual aesthetics like plugins, themes and brand colours, you also have to take updates seriously.
Updates form a core part of WordPress’ overall architecture. Each update contains the latest version of WordPress.
A lot of WordPress users, especially those operating their first WordPress website, are often confused as to what updates are.
But WordPress updates are quite important and by the end of this article, you should have a better understanding of what WordPress updates are, how they work, and how you can install them.
First, let us understand what WordPress updates are.
What are WordPress Updates?
WordPress updates refer to regular releases of new versions of the WordPress platform.
Every new update makes the latest version of the WordPress platform available to a website. This latest version usually contains bug fixes, security enhancements, and new features.
Updates are usually released at different intervals and include both minor and major updates.
The purpose of each WordPress update is to maintain the security and stability of WordPress websites.
The new version also ensures that your website is compatible with the latest web technologies and standards.
Why Should You Update a WordPress Website?
Upgrading WordPress websites you run as soon as you get a notification for a new update is just as important as anything else you do on your website. This is for the following reasons:
Always Back Up Your Website Before Updating
This is the first essential and non-negotiable step! You must make a backup of your WordPress site in the state of your website before launching any update.
This will ensure that you quickly restore your WordPress site if something goes wrong. Whether you are a beginner or a WordPress expert, ignoring this step is madness!
Every new version of WordPress brings security patches to address vulnerabilities in the platform.
These vulnerabilities or loopholes could make it easier for hackers to gain access to your website.
Keeping your website updated will reduce the risk of hacking and other security threats.
Updating your website to the latest version also improves its performance.
This will make your website run a bit smoother and be more responsive, thus delivering a better experience for your visitors.
WordPress updates also fix bugs and resolve other issues that might be affecting your site’s functionality.
Updating to the latest version of WordPress can give you access to new features and functionality for both you and your visitors.
There are so many benefits to updating WordPress that you cannot afford to do without it.
If you are yet to update your WordPress sites and have received a notification, you should consider doing that today.
How to Update WordPress Site
Updating WordPress is quite easy and simple and is something anybody, even a first-timer, should be able to do.
WordPress helps you automatically install minor and security updates, which usually include bug fixes.
You have the option to turn off automatic updates or enable automatic updates in the WordPress admin dashboard.
As a rule, it is the major releases that you should handle by yourself.
Before you embark on updating WordPress, there is something you need to do first, which is to back up your site.
Back up Website Data
While updates are generally safe, it is not completely guaranteed that nothing will happen to your site or data.
There have been reports of WordPress websites crashing or breaking as a result of updating the site.
This may cause you to lose some of your site data. To prevent that, it is best you back up your site data, as this will make recovery a lot easier if needed.
To back up your website, you can use WordPress plugins like WP-DB-Backup, UpdraftPlus, or an FTP client like FileZilla. Part of the data you should update includes:
Plugins and themes
Configuration files, including the wp.config.php file
And other core WordPress files.
With your website data successfully backed up and saved, you can then proceed to update WordPress.
Methods to Update WordPress
When it comes to updating WordPress, there are many ways to get that done.
Update WordPress via Dashboard
This is, perhaps, the easiest and fastest way to update WordPress as it can be done entirely in your WordPress dashboard. It is also how you update WordPress automatically.
Log into the admin area of your WordPress site. This should take you to the Dashboard.
On the Dashboard, locate Updates then click on it to enter the Updates page.
On the Updates page, you will see information about WordPress updates, including your current version.
If there is a new WordPress version, you should see an Update Now button. Click on it to initialise the update process.
The WordPress installation should begin in the background.
While WordPress updates, your site is still visible to visitors but you will not be able to update themes and plugins as your site will be in maintenance mode.
After you have successfully updated WordPress, you will be directed to the WordPress welcome page.
You might also be directed to a page where you can see the new features in the update.
Update WordPress via FTP
This method updates WordPress manually and is a much more complex method compared to the first one we covered.
For this method, you will need to have an FTP client, which is a sort of application that connects your computer to remote servers.
Under this method, you will use FTP to manually upload WordPress files to your site.
Start by downloading the latest version of WordPress.
The file will be downloaded as a zip file. Extract the content and locate the WordPress folder containing the WordPress files you will need for this update.
Connect your FTP client to your WordPress website. You can use FileZilla or SmartFTP for this.
Once connected, navigate to the WordPress folder that was earlier extracted.
Then, in the remote files column, access the root folder of the WordPress website, which may be labelled ‘public_html’ or named after your website domain.
Within this folder, you will find all the files and folders associated with your WordPress site.
To upload the WordPress files to your website, you should select all the files within the wp-content folder on your computer and then right-click to choose the Upload option.
Your FTP client will then initiate the upload process, transferring the WordPress files from your computer to your website.
However, your website already contains older versions of these files with the same names.
You will receive a prompt on what to do with these files. Select Overwrite and check the box next to Always use this action.
Once the upload process is complete, you should access the admin area of your WordPress site to ensure that the new version of WordPress is installed correctly.
This may also require updating your WordPress database.
That is how you manually update your WordPress website using FTP.
With your WordPress website now running on the latest version of WordPress, your site can enjoy improved security and an overall experience that your visitors will appreciate.
WordPress update is a very important aspect of WordPress website maintenance.
Updating your WordPress site is something you should only worry about if you are the one handling everything about your website.
This can be quite tasking, especially if there is a lot to oversee.
A better solution to this is managed hosting, and at Digitize, we can provide your business with the right hosting it needs according to your requirements.
Whether you want small single server configurations or multi-application server clusters, we can always come through for you with the right solution for your business.
We provide top-notch services and excellent customer support and disaster recovery when anything goes wrong.
Contact us today to see how we can help you and your online business.