So you THINK you know how to keep up-to-date?

Gone are the days when ‘not keeping up-to-date’ simply meant a questionable fashion sense. Here’s a quick reference guide to avoid the most common mistakes when updating your website:

1) You SHOULD back up your website first
2) You SHOULDN’T hit update without understanding the changes
3) You SHOULD test the site after
4) You SHOULDN’T update during peak hours
5) You SHOULD turn on automatic updates
6) You SHOULDN’T forget about plugins

If you don’t know already, updating your website is one of the most important tasks when running a WordPress website. Not only does it allow you to access the latest features that WordPress has to offer, it also keeps your site safer from minor security issues that might be in older versions.

We often hear that people are worried about updating WordPress themselves and afraid it will break functionality, so we’re here to let you know what you should and shouldn’t do when you’re updating your website.

1) You SHOULD back up your website before doing anything

Backing up your website before you update is extremely important, it means if anything does go wrong you’ve got the previous version to fall back on.

Over the years we’ve experimented with various ways of backing up websites, but at the moment we tend to favour BackupBuddy. Whilst this is a paid for plugin it’s extremely user-friendly, it offers various types of backup such as database, plugins, themes, media or complete and it has a great backup restoration process.

If you don’t want to pay for a plugin to create a backup file you should consider Duplicator. With over 1+ million downloads it’s by far the best free backup plugin in our opinion.

2) You SHOULDN’T hit the update button without understanding the changes

You wouldn’t go out and buy a pair of sagging jeans without considering your choice of underwear so please don’t hit update as soon as you see a flashing button. Consider reading the changelog, what features does it offer, is it fixing any major security issues etc.

We say this because sometimes an update might cause your website to break. To give a recent example when WooCommerce release version 3.3 of their plugin it broke a lot of websites templates due to the way they restructured theming. If people read they changed the way templating was handled, some users may have waited to see how over users got on before updating their own websites. Whilst they did fix this quickly you don’t want to be stuck with a broken site.

3) You SHOULD test the site after updating

You may think this is obvious but we’ve seen numerous cases of people hitting update and just hoping because WordPress told them an update was available it was safe to do so.

Make sure you run through the site afterwards, fill in any contact forms, place an order if you run an e-commerce shop and just make sure there aren’t any issues.

4) You SHOULDN’T update during peak hours

If your site gets a lot of traffic or you run an e-commerce business it’s wise not to update your site during your peak hours. During an update, your site will be put into maintenance mode by WordPress.

This means if a user goes between pages they’ll be left looking at a maintenance message until the update is finished. Even worse, your update might break some of your website’s functionality causing a user to potentially leave the site.

5) You SHOULD turn on automatic updates

‘Turn on automatic updates’ after everything I’ve just said I hear you say?

Don’t worry, the option to turn on automatic updates is only for minor WordPress updates. This means you’ll be kept up to date with minor security fixes but the site will never force a major release on you.

This will keep WordPress as secure as it can be without you doing a thing.

6) You SHOULDN’T forget about plugins

When WordPress has an update it will shout about it at the top of every page you go to. It’ll say something along the lines of “WordPress 4.9.4 is available! Please update now”. But when plugins have an update they appear under Dashboard > Updates, so it may not always be obvious there are updates available if you aren’t used to doing updates.

Normally plugin updates come packed new features that are going to be beneficial to you, especially if they’re paid for plugins.

Finally you SHOULD give us a call if you’re unsure

Many of our customers take out a Care Package (from as little as £15* per month) which means we manage annual updates for you – removing the worry about what could go wrong and leaving you to focus on managing your business.

Even if you host your site elsewhere, enjoy peace of mind and keep up-to-date without the hassle. Call Jigowatt on 01733 267775 or email info@jigowatt.co.uk

*Based on our Basic Care Package

Written by Luke Reid Webbie

Luke is an aspiring Front-End Developer who also enjoys WordPress theming. Luke is eager to expand his knowledge & take in as much code as possible.

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