WordPress is a great CMS and continues to grow in popularity. Like anything though, it’s not perfect. We all have different needs and WordPress out of the box cannot satisfy all of them. That’s why plugins and themes exist.
If you use WordPress, chances are that you have installed plugins and themes to satisfy your particular needs. There are thousands of plugins and themes publicly available on WordPress.org and other third party websites but installing a plugin, a theme, or even WordPress itself, is just the first step.
WordPress is a living project. Developers work hard on this CMS to provide us with a reliable platform and we can say the same thing for many of the plugins or themes available. To use new features or to prevent potential bugs, keeping WordPress, your themes and plugins up to date is important and that’s what we’ll cover in this article.
WordPress and its plugins and themes are like any other software installed on your computer, or like any other application on your devices. Periodically developers release updates which provide new features or fix known bugs.
Maybe new features is not something that you necessarily want? In fact, maybe you are satisfied with the functionality you currently have and you don’t need more? Well, you are still likely to be concerned about bugs.
Software bugs can come in many shapes and sizes. A bug could be enormous such as preventing users from using a plugin or it could be very small and only concern a certain part of a theme for example. In some cases, bugs can even be serious security holes.
Regardless of their level of severity, software bugs must be fixed. As a user, when a software update is released that fixes a bug, you should update as soon as possible to have the most secure and stable versions of the product.
The same goes for WordPress and it’s themes and plugins. It’s not difficult to update, so what is stopping you?
How to Know If There Are Updates Available?
As I mentioned earlier, updating our software is important, but we can’t monitor everyday if a new version is available for WordPress or for one of our plugins or themes, especially if we are using a lot of them.
Fortunately, if a new version of WordPress is available, you can’t miss it, as you will see a message at the top of almost every page of your administration panel. You will even see another message at the bottom of these pages!
For plugins and themes, it is different, but if they are available on WordPress.org, then the CMS can tell you if a new version is released. All you have to do is visit the ‘Updates’ section of the WordPress dashboard.
You will see right next to this entry in the menu, how many updates are available. This number also appears in the bar at the top of your screen on all the pages of your website when you are logged in. If this number doesn’t appear, good news: WordPress and all your plugins and themes are up to date!
Updating WordPress itself is very important, as the CMS is victim of its success. Used by millions of people around the world, WordPress is a good target: a single security hole can affect many websites.
Fortunately, WordPress is Open Source and security flaws can be detected and fixed quickly. However, in order to be safe, you have to update your installation.
To update WordPress, you have to add, delete and replace some files, manually or automatically. If a problem occurs when you are updating your installation, WordPress can be broken and I’m sure that it’s not what you want!
That’s why you should back up your WordPress installation before updating it, to be sure that you can retrieve the old but working installation.
Updating WordPress with a Single Click
Since version 2.7, it is possible to update WordPress quickly and easily thanks to a one click method. This method is preferred, as WordPress will automatically download and replace the right files by itself. That way, you avoid errors and gain time.
To update WordPress in one click, go in the ‘Updates’ entry of the ‘Dashboard’ menu. If you don’t have the latest available version of WordPress, you will see the message ‘An updated version of WordPress is available’ before two buttons.
By clicking on the second button, you will download a ZIP archive containing the latest version of WordPress. You will then be able to create a new installation of WordPress or manually update your current installation (which is described below).
The first button is the one click method. If you click on the ‘Update Now’ button, WordPress will lead you to another page which will inform you of the progress: automatically, it will download the latest version, deactivate your plugins, replace the right files and reactivate your plugins. All you have to do is wait just a few seconds or minutes.