WordPress follows a routine release management cycle to publish the latest software version. Though major updates follow the cycle, you will also get minor security and bug fixes as and when available. It is highly recommended to update your WordPress sites to the latest version to fix any previous bugs, harden the security and get new functionalities.
Auto Update and Manual Update
WordPress offers an auto update function to automatically install the latest WordPress version for your site. It is also possible to auto update themes and plugins without manual intervention. However, you should first disable these auto updates as they can break the site’s layout without your knowledge. After disabling auto updates, follow the below steps to manually update WordPress core, themes and plugins.
Update WordPress Core Manually
Whenever a new version is available, you will see a “WordPress 6.2.2 is available! Please update now” notification in your admin panel as shown below. Here, 6.2.2 is the version number which you will get from WordPress.org website. This link will appear on all admin pages reminding you an update is available. In addition, you can also find the update button on “At a Glance” card in the “Dashboard” section.
You will also see a link in bottom right corner as “Get Version 6.2.2”.
Clicking on these links will take you to “Dashboard > Updates” section showing all the available updates for WordPress, themes and plugins. As you can see, there is a notification “Automatic update scheduled in 11 hours” indicating auto update is enabled on the site. Otherwise, you will see “This site will not receive automatic updates for new versions of WordPress” indicating auto update is disabled.
Click on the “Update to version 6.2.2” button and the latest WordPress core package will be downloaded and installed on your site.
After the successful update, you will see a welcome page showing the details of last major version. Click “see the release notes” link of your installed version to go to WordPress.org page and check the release details.
Updating Your Themes
After updating WordPress core, check your site layout and confirm everything is working fine and then update the theme.
- Scroll down to the bottom on the “Dashboard > Updates” section where you can find the available updates for your themes.
- If updates are available, select the themes you want to update and then click “Update Themes” button.
- This will download and install the latest themes from the repository or from the developer’s site and show you the success message like below. Click on the “Show details” link to see all the steps involved in the theme update.
However, there is also another way to install the latest theme on your site from “Appearance > Themes” section. The difference is that, from here you can only update one by one and not multiple themes at a time. If there is an update available, you will see a “Update now” link and click on that. After successful update, you can see “Updated!” message as shown below.
If you want to check the details of change log, click the theme card and then click “View version details” link on the pop-up that appears. This will open WordPress.org theme page for free themes and the change log page from author for premium themes. From here also you can update the theme by clicking on “update now” link.
Updating Your Plugins
Like themes, you can update installed plugins in two ways. First option is to go to “Home > Updates” section, select the plugins and click “Update Plugins” button. Click “Show details” link on the next page to view the installation details.
Alternatively, go to “Plugins > Installed Plugins” section and click “update now” link showing below any of the plugin to get the latest version. The advantage here is that you will stay on the same page without navigating to another page. For updating multiple items, select them and click “Bulk actions” dropdown. Select “Update” from the list and click “Apply” button.
Note: The top admin bar in the admin panel shows total number of available updates for themes, plugins and core. Clicking on that will take you “Dashboard > Updates” section from where you can follow the steps as explained above.
Points to Consider When Updating WordPress Core
Though updating WordPress core, theme and plugins is a super easy process, you should understand and consider the followings:
- There are no options to revert back the core, theme or plugin updates. Therefore, Make sure to take a back of your database before updating. Go to your hosting account and use phpMyAdmin app to download the compressed copy of your database. This will help to restore your site in case anything goes wrong after updating. Many hosting companies like SiteGround also offers a daily full site backup. You can use this backup from hosting server and restore the content with few clicks when there is a problem.
- Use localhost or staging to test the major WordPress versions before updating directly on live site.
- While updating the WordPress, your site will go to maintenance mode and will be back online after success update. Sometimes, the update may get terminated due to poor internet connection. In this case, the site will be showing with the maintenance mode page. You may need to manually delete the maintenance mode file to bring it back online. After that, try again to install the update with good internet connection.
- Check your themes and plugins are compatible before updating the core. Incompatible theme or plugin will throw PHP fatal errors and show white screen of death. In this case, you may need to deactivate the plugin or theme that causing the issue using FTP or hosting account to login to your admin panel.
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