How to Update WordPress

How to Update WordPress

In this post I’ll discuss how to update WordPress. Along with why you need to stay current, and tips for knowing when to update.

WordPress is a popular platform. With that popularity, sometimes it creates unwanted attention. Having a large number of websites all running the same software could create an easy target if there is a security vulnerability.

Don’t let your website fall behind with updates. Keeping WordPress up to date also helps to keep your WordPress site secure. Other important WordPress components I’ve mentioned before are plugins and your theme. It is also recommended to keep those updated.

3 reasons to update WordPress

Security, bug fixes, and new features.

You don’t want a bad guy getting into your website. Keeping WordPress up to date is a good start to reducing the risk.

The second and third benefits of keeping your WordPress installation updated: you also get all the bug fixes and new features from the WordPress core team and the plugin & theme developers.

You want everything to be secure, running smooth and as efficient as possible.

What to update? Your entire WordPress installation

WordPress core

WordPress has a major and minor version number. Currently the WordPress version is 4.2.2. By default the major version is not automatically updated. However, the minor versions are. Any security patches are included in a minor version and automatically updated. Leaving this default behaviour is recommended.

WordPress Plugins

Plugins need to be updated manually (except in special cases).

WordPress Themes

Themes need to be updated manually (except in special cases).

Know when to update WordPress

By default, the only way to know an update is available is when you log in to your WordPress website. At the top of the WordPress Admin Screens is a bar telling you to there’s an update.

How to Update WordPress - Admin Bar notification

Plugin to notify you by email

It’s not always possible to check for updates regularly. WP Updates Notifier is a useful plugin to let you know (by email) when there is an update available for the WordPress core, plugins or themes. Set how often to check for updates, enter your email, and notify on all plugin and theme updates. That’s it!

How to Update WordPress - WP Updates Notifier

How to update WordPress

You need to be careful when you update the WordPress core, plugins and themes. You don’t want an update to break your website. It’s best to manually update them.

Here are the steps you can follow when there’s an update available:

  1. Backup development website and verify the backup works
  2. Update WordPress development website
  3. Test website functionality

Hopefully all goes well. Do the exact same thing on your production website:

  1. Backup production website and verify the backup works
  2. Update WordPress production website
  3. Test website functionality

It is always better to update your development site first. This way you can test for any issues without the risk of breaking your “production” website. Make sure you make a backup first and verify it works! Sometimes testing on a development website isn’t possible all the time. In this case, make sure you at least have a backup so you can rollback to a working state.


Keeping everything in your WordPress installation updated is a great start to keeping your website secure and running smoothly. Use your development environment first to test the new update and then perform the update on your production website. Don’t forget to make a backup.

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