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Updating Your WordPress Website – How do you do it?

In our first post of this series, we explored why updating WordPress is so important irrespective of whether your website is for personal or business use. It is easy to think that your website is working perfectly now so no action is required but this could lead to huge issues down the line. If your website was created by a third party and you don’t have an ongoing maintenance agreement it’s even more important that you take steps to ensure the long term security of your site.

Luckily, the creators of WordPress are very security focused and release frequent updates to resolve any issues that have been identified. They even have a page on their website that details all past releases with full details of patched issues and any possible impact of installing the update:

https://wordpress.org/news/category/security/

Knowing that the technical ability of WordPress users varies significantly, the creators have made it as easy as possible for you to be able to perform the required updates yourself. If your WordPress installation is new enough, you will be able to update directly via the back-end dashboard that you use to control the site. If it’s too old, you will need to update manually but don’t panic as they provide very detailed instructions for you to use. As long as you follow each of the steps in turn, you will be updated (and therefore more secure) in no time.

Regardless of the update route that you take, here are some key points that are worth considering to reduce the chance of something going wrong and causing you a lot more work to rectify:

  • Backup everything… frequently

This is the most important point of all, especially before starting an update. You need to ensure that you back up the WordPress files within the web space itself and the back end database that drives the entire site.

  • Backup your backups

It’s impossible to over stress the need to backup. If things go wrong, you will want to be able to get your website back online without having to start again from scratch. You could consider keeping a backup offsite in case something happens to your original too.

  • Deactivate your plugins

Having active plugins can sometimes conflict with WordPress updates so always deactivate these before proceeding. You can enable them again later.

  • Update at the right time

Attempting to update your WordPress installation moments before a busy trading period or event where people will be driven to your website is probably not a good idea. Always allow yourself enough time to upgrade, test and potentially restore the old site in case any issues occur.

The full detailed instructions on how to upgrade can be found on the WordPress website:

https://codex.wordpress.org/Upgrading_WordPress_-_Extended_Instructions

There are other things to consider in addition to updating the main WordPress installation to keep your site secure such as plugins and themes which will be covered in more detail in next week’s blog post.

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