When you log in to your WordPress site, you visit the dashboard. This shows you general information about the website how many pages and posts you have, and some notices will show depending on what plugins you have installed. As we know, ideally, we want to have as few plugins installed on the site to reduce page load, memory required and security risks.
If your website hosting is with a company like GoDaddy, hostinger, etc., you may not have anyone managing your site, and they simply just host it, meaning if you don’t take action, your plugins and core version can become outdated. So why is this so bad? Plugins which aren’t updated to the most recent version propose a potential security risk. Sometimes, plugins are released with bugs and vulnerabilities which you may have on your website. If left unchecked, it could cause serious problems, and your website could potentially be hacked and pulled down. A safety checklist for plugins is:
- Check it is a regularly used plugin, IE, installed by 800,000+ active installations.
- Check the rating. I would avoid using anything less than four stars unless absolutely required for your website functionality.
- Check it is compatible with your version of WordPress. If it’s not regularly updated, then this could cause compatibility issues.
- When was it last updated? You should expect a regularly used plugin to be updated every month or so.
This is also the same for the WordPress Core update? At the time of this article, we are currently at version 6.3.1, which can be downloaded at https://en-gb.wordpress.org/download/. Along with each version, you get a note of all the updated features and also the requirements needed in order to install the latest version. If you know your website is old and runs on a low PHP level, a core update to the latest version might cause the website to completely break.
It’s completely understandable that it can be scary updating your plugins and core version, so why not ask us to help you? With a website maintenance retainer, we can complete content updates, plugin and core updates and ensure your website runs smoothly. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a trustworthy, reliable hosting service, we include this as part of your hosting! Want to know more? Visit our Website development, management & maintenance retainer in-house service.
So why should you always update your plugins and core version?
Research shows that the majority of WordPress websites that get hacked have either core, plugin or themes that haven’t been updated. As WordPress covers 43% of the internet now, plugins, themes and the WordPress core version is regularly updated, and developers from all over the world contribute to finding vulnerabilities issues, providing solutions and adding new features. The changes which are validated are then released to the new version of WordPress. You can see all the versions available and when they were released. This will also give you an idea of when the website was last updated.
WordPress offers the option to update automatically, but you should avoid this until you know your website will be stable and will work after the updates have been completed.
Top tips before updating your website
Ideally, if you have the option to, you would complete a full backup of your website. This is why it’s important to have someone with technical expertise who can help you alongside the maintenance of your website. If you do an update and it breaks your website, what do you do if you have no backup?! You may have to rebuild your website! Not to forget, uploading and adding all the content you may have lost from the last backup you have on file.
After you update your plugins and core version, now you need to TEST TEST TEST! Your website might look fine on the front end, but we need to check the functionality is still working as normal! The biggest concern being form fill completions, security and cookies to comply with GDPR.
There are lots of guides and helpful resources you can look at to help debug and fix issues. Often, plugin developers will release a second update, which may include a fix you’re looking for. A reminder to always review your website in a new browser or incognito mode! Caching is so strong, especially on certain browsers; make sure you are reviewing your website as customers would across the world.