How to Make Sure Your WordPress Site is Updated
Almost every time I log into a client’s site I am immediately bombarded by update notifications.
For some reason, people seem to think that their website is a “set it and forget it” kind of thing. But you, smart reader, know better. You know it is important to keep your site in tip-top shape. That way you can continue to give your audience a great experience and give your potential buyers a smooth process for purchasing. So today I’m going to help you make sure your site stays updated.
Updating your site is important because it keeps things running smoothly. Often plugins and themes will make updates to improve performance, keep up with new internet protocols, repair issues, or close security holes. Keeping your site updated helps with all those things. This means that the further out of date the plugins, themes, and databases on your site are the more likely your site is to have issues.
You should update your site regularly. Sometimes you won’t have very much that needs to be updated and sometimes you will see several updates. It is a good idea to check in with your site at least once a month to make sure everything is still running the way it should.
(Note: before updating anything you should make sure your site is backed up!)
Updating Your Site
When you log into your site you’ll notice the little orange circles letting you know that you have updates. Click on “themes” and then “plugins” to see what needs help. If you have checked both of those places and still see the notifications go up and click “updates” to see if you have a WordPress update.
Before you update anything be sure you have a recent backup of your site. Some people like to back up their site files manually, other people prefer a plugin. My personal favorite is UpdraftPlus plugin which can connect to Google Drive, Dropbox, and a number of other things to back up your site. Even if you are using a plugin and have it set to back up at certain intervals you need to check the date of the most recent backup. If it is more than a week old run a manual backup before updating.
The actual process of updating things is pretty easy. From your Dashboard, click Plugins. Anything that needs updating will have a yellow bar with an “update” button below it.
Go through one by one and click the update button for everything that needs it. Give each plugin the chance to update before moving on to the next one.
Once everything is updated check your Dashboard menu to see if there are any more notifications. If there are, then go to “Themes” on your Dashboard menu, any themes that need updates will have an “update” button below them. Note: some of the themes that you aren’t using might need updating. I always recommend updating just in case.
Once you are done check the Dashboard again to make sure your notifications are gone. On the rare occasion that WordPress itself needs updating, you will still see an update notification. Click on the “Updates” tab on the Dashboard menu. On this page you will see a notification that “WordPress version x.x.x needs to be updated” and an “update now” button.
Sometimes, you will update WordPress, and immediately after clicking the button you will see a white page with a notification: “Briefly Unavailable for Scheduled Maintenance. Check Back in a Minute”. Don’t panic. You didn’t break your site. It’s that WordPress needs a minute to do the update. Wait a few minutes and try refreshing the page (or leave and come back in a bit) and everything should be back to normal.
Now that you have your website updated you’ll want to keep things running with monthly updates and maintenance. I invite you to download my free monthly maintenance checklist. Keep it around to give you a reminder of the things you should check each month to make sure your website is working for you and your audience.