83% of hacked WordPress sites are hacked because they aren’t kept up to date. This statistic alone should tell you how important it is to keep on top of your WordPress version & plugins.
WordPress will automatically download & install hot fixes for small updates, which are numbered as sub updates to major version releases. If there is a major release – such as the most recent update 4.4 – then a manual update is required.
Plugins will not automatically update by default. But, you can set your site to automatically update plugins if desired. Any plugin update will include a “change log” that will highlight the date of the update, the version number, & it will also list precisely what the update includes.
Keeping your WordPress version & plugins up to date can help for several reasons:
- Enhanced Security
- Improved Performance
- Better Compatibility
- New Features
WordPress now powers 25% of all websites, so it comes as no surprise that it will draw the attention of hackers.
Keeping your site up to date will reduce the risk of them taking your site down, or stealing any customer data you may store.
Fortunately, because WordPress and its plugins are open source, any vulnerabilities that are found are usually dealt with extremely quickly.
These updates will usually come in the form of hot fixes, as mentioned earlier.
If you don’t update your site, the chance of it being compromised will increase significantly over time.
Updates can also lead to your site performing better.
The team at WordPress invest a lot of time into making it run more efficiently. A good example of this would be in 4.4, in which they’ve added a way for it to display images differently, depending on the device it’s being viewed on, making for faster load times.
Whenever a major release comes out for WordPress, a lot of well known plugins will also be updated. This is to ensure that they are compatible with the latest version, while also enabling them to make use of any new features it may offer.
If you are running an old version of WordPress, you may find that some plugins won’t actually work on your site, because they use features designed for more recent versions.
You’ll notice when you update WordPress they may have added new features, which can range from simple improvements to the user experience to make images responsive.
Plugins will also do this, which means that by keeping up to date you’ll always have access to the latest features.
It is even possible for you to suggest a feature to the developers of WordPress, or for a plugin, and to see them come to life.
If you need help keeping up to date, then see our blog on keeping your WordPress website up to date.