How often do I need to update WordPress?
For my clients, I recommend taking a website care plan which includes all WordPress and plugin updates. If you are managing your site, then WordPress, the plugins and the Genesis Framework should be updated at a minimum every few months. A bit like getting your car serviced, you need to do it regularly.
Be aware, upgrading may break your site, for example, if a plugin or a piece of code in your theme isn't compatible with the new code. You don't need to rush to upgrade as soon as there is a release (unless it is a security upgrade): a website will continue functioning just fine. Just don't leave it too long.
Would you like to manage upgrades yourself? I recommend that you have a recent backup of your site (files and database) and to record which plugins you upgrade. Then if the worse comes to the worse, and you get a white screen with a long list of PHP errors, it will make it much faster for us to help you or for you to roll back the update.
Upgrade at your own risk!
If you run multi-site, a busy e-commerce site or have custom plugins or unique solutions, I strongly recommend that you get us to do the more regular upgrades on a staging site first. A staging site is a copy of your live site. When you make changes, you test everything on the staging site before any changes on the live site.
There are four reasons why you need to keep update WordPress
1. Increase security
All websites are vulnerable to being hacked. WordPress is the most popular Content Management System (CMS) today, that makes it a target for hackers. On the other side, it means WordPress has a large user base and an active development community who quickly issues new versions to deal with any areas of vulnerability.
The vast majority of hacked WordPress sites are websites that have not kept up with the latest installation of WordPress.
Dealing with a hacked site is costly, not only in terms of website services but also it's bad for business. No one wants a customer to navigate to their business website and find a Russian porn site in its place.
I recommend that my clients keep the WordPress website up to date. For small sites that contain mostly static content, I find three monthly updates is sufficient unless there is a critical security update. You should do security updates as soon as possible.
2. Fix any bugs
Developers make updates to WordPress, your plugins and theme framework, to bug fixes that they discovered in previous versions. To get the fixes, you need to update.
3. Add features and functionality
Updates often include adding features and functionality. That also includes just keeping up with outside factors that are changing, e.g. Google Analytics or Facebook etc.
4. Keep control of your site with regular maintenance
Not only is it well worth keeping the software on your website all up to date, but it also creates an opportunity for you to do a review of your site:
- Is all the content up to date?
- What new content would it be useful to add?
- Do some testing - is everything working correctly - broken links, contact forms, navigation, social media connections?
- How are my website statistics doing?
- Do I have a recent backup?
- Is the website achieving my business goals?
- Am I happy with my WordPress Hosting Company - are there any performance issues?