Think before you update

WordPress 4.3 is available! Please update now.

WordPress plugin update details screen
The WordPress update details screen outlines what has changed.

WordPress 4.3 arrived this week with some nice new features attached and a whole list of bug fixes…

If you use more that a couple of plugins, it can seem as if there is a new version waiting every time you log in. Some plugin authors seem to have a habit of pushing out an update even while you are logged in…

We all know that it is important to keep these systems up to date. Quite a few of these updates include either security fixes or additions to make hacking your site more difficult. There is also that urge to hit the button just to get the message out of the way.

Just think before you update

While having a website hacked is a painful affair, breaking your site is not without its own stress.

We’re not saying that any particular update will break your site. Reputable authors will test their updates thoroughly and most updates work first time without any hassle. The problem is that with all the plugins and themes out there there is a chance that there might be a conflict in the code and something will stop working or “go strange”.

Read the details

You can reduce the likelihood of problems by reading the update details. These will highlight if the update is or contains a security fix. Do not ignore these. They will also probably provide a long list of fixes and some new stuff. Check if there is anything referring to functions you use, particularly if you have built on these (perhaps applied a bespoke style). If anything rings a bell, you might want to test on a copy of your web first – just in case. Some plugin authors will alert users to major changes and encourage them to test first. If they do, please heed the warnings.

Check your backup

Update now buttonOnce you have done your homework, but before you hit the link, check when the website was last backed up and think of how much has changed since then. If anything goes pear shaped, this is the file you will be relying on to get you back online. If you have a week’s worth of orders or blogs since the last backup, they could be lost. If in doubt, take a new backup before doing the update. 99% of the time it may be a waste of space but occasionally you will be glad you did.

Now, press that button!