Why to maintain a WordPress website and keep WordPress core, theme and plugins up-to-date?
According to WordPress statistics, only 36% of users have the latest version installed (as of February 2020).
Updating your website is just as important as building it in the first place. Regular website maintenance is a must if you want your site to be successful.
Now, what happens if you choose not to maintain your WordPress site?
Once a website is built and launched, it must be maintained to ensure it remains secure and up-to-date. If you decided not to maintain your WordPress website expect the following:
1. Hacking attacks
Most WordPress websites that are not undergoing regular maintenance are hacked due to outdated versions of plugins, themes and of course WordPress core itself. Hackers use scanners to crawl through the web and find WordPress sites running on the old version. Once they find your site, it’s easy for them to hack because they know exactly what the vulnerability is.
Developers regularly release updates which provide new features or fix known bugs, introduce new features and ensure compatibility with the core WordPress software.
You can run your website on an outdated WordPress installation, but eventually, you’ll face many issues by not updating.
Plugin vulnerabilities are the easiest way for hackers to gain access to your website. That is why it is important to keep your website updated due to security reasons!
2. Website speed
Outdated plugins can slow down site performance drastically. Keeping your plugins and theme up-to-date ensures that you will reap benefits from improved performance, increased security, and other enhancements on offer from the theme or plugin developer.
Of cause outdated plugins are not the only factor that can slow down your website. You must consider good hosting, use minification plugins, and compress your images. Read our article on “How to Speed Up Your Website – and Improve Conversion“
What can go wrong while updating WordPress website?
There is always a risk of compatibility issues. With WordPress and the variety of third-party themes and plugins increases that risk. When the WordPress core is updated, developers of themes and plugins alter their design to suit the new WordPress version.But it is possible that after an upgrade, a particular theme or plugin will no longer work properly and/or cause errors on your website.
There is also the threat of software bugs which can come in many shapes and sizes. A bug could be massive which might restrict users from using a plugin or it could be a very small and only concern a certain part of a theme. But in some cases, bugs can be of serious menace to security. That is why it is recommended to clone your website and test updates on a testing installation.
If you run your website on WP Engine hosting, your WP Engine staging environment is a great place for testing updates!
Are you ready to update your WordPress website?
- Complete a full site backup. If anything goes wrong, you’ll want to be able to restore your website. If you modified any source files when you upgrade, all of the relevant core, theme, and plugin files will be overwritten. You should keep your modifications saved in a text file, with notes on which files to apply them to and where they need to be applied.
2. Update Themes and plugins Before Upgrading WordPress. The themes and plugins can be updated manually or automatically, depending on the client requirement.
3. Make sure everything still works as expected. You can also clone your website and test updates first.
If you are using a caching plugin, you may need to clear the cache, or temporarily deactivate it, in order to check everything properly.
It is quite evident that the update can be done in several ways and one should always opt for the one click and automatic methods as they are simpler, quicker and less likely to be a source of errors. However, updating manually is still an option and, sometimes, it is the only one, so it is also important to know how to conduct it.
Detailed instruction from WordPress: https://codex.wordpress.org/Upgrading_WordPress_-_Extended_Instructions
It’s vital to regularly maintain your website to keep it up-to-date, backed up and secure. Neglecting maintenance may lead to website breakage, downtime and expose your website to hacking attacks that are costly to repair.