WordPress is a content management system (CMS) used by millions of users around the world. In fact, it is the most popular CMS in the world with a global CMS market share of around 60 percent. WordPress is used by numerous well-known websites, including the New York Post, CNN, USA Today, and Time.com, among others. It owes its popularity to its user-friendliness and adaptability. While it is an extremely dynamic platform, it is still necessary for you to update it regularly if you are using it for your website.

But before we go to the nitty-gritty of updating your WordPress website, let us take a look at the reasons why you should update it.

Importance of Updating Your WordPress Website

If you have a smartphone, you may be aware of the risk of not updating it every few months or so. This is especially true when a major update becomes available. If you do not update your smartphone, you will notice a slowdown in the apps you are using. Your phone may even experience some issues with the apps, if not the mobile OS itself. You would even expose your data to some security risks.

The same thing applies to WordPress. Updates allow your website to run smoothly with minimal to no issues. Once these updates are released, you will see more features available for the plugins you are using on your website. Aside from dealing with any bugs, these updates also provide your website with the necessary protection against hackers.

  • Update to Improve Performance

One of the reasons why you should update your WordPress website is to optimize its performance. There may be instances when the plugins and apps you use on the website experience bugs. There may even be instances when two plugins from different developers will come into conflict with each other, which can affect the performance of your website. These updates will deal with these issues by making the necessary adjustments. They may even remove these bugs completely, which is beneficial for you and visitors to your website.

  • New Features

WordPress typically releases an update every two months. While they are mainly to fix any software or security issues, there are instances when these updates provide new features to the platform. These new features aim to enhance user experience among the visitors to your website. Since technology continues to grow even as we speak, it is necessary to make adjustments to provide additional features for the website.

  • Plugin Management

When WordPress issues updates, it’s mainly for the core software. With the changes in the core software, developers of plugins should also make the necessary updates so the plugins remain up-to-date and will synch in with the new updates. This also highlights the importance of checking the background of the plugin before you install it into your website. You should make sure the plugin is regularly updated to make it run smoothly. It is also important for you to regularly update the plugin to ensure its compatibility with the WordPress platform.

  • Deal With Security Issues

Another reason why you should update your WordPress website regularly is to nip any serious security issues in the bud. These updates are designed to prevent any security breaches, which is particularly important if you are running an e-commerce site. The popularity of WordPress has made it an appealing target for hackers who find ways and means to infiltrate and take over a website using the platform. Due to this, you should ensure your website is regularly updated, especially when a critical update is released by WordPress. These critical updates are designed to deal with these security issues in addition to ensuring the platform is free of any issues.

Aside from the core software, you should also update your plugins and themes to deal with any issues that might emerge in the future.

Backing Up The Website

When you update your WordPress website, it is important to back up the website. This is particularly true when you are updating the core WordPress software. Creating a backup of your website will allow you to restore the website in case you encounter issues during the update. Your backup saves all the posts, comments, and links to your website. This makes it easy for you to reload the website if anything goes wrong. But creating a backup for your WordPress website should not be performed only when you are updating it. You should also back up the website even if you are not updating it.

The following are the reasons why you should regularly back up your WordPress website:

  • Mistakes Happen

No matter how experienced you are as a website administrator, there may be instances when you make mistakes. Some files may be deleted or overwritten. Even a small mistake may affect the entire database of your website. This makes it important for you to back up all the files of your website. With a backup, you can easily restore everything just before you erred in working on your website.

  • Security Concerns

As mentioned earlier, the popularity of WordPress as a content management system has made it a prime target for hackers. They can also insert malicious scripting without your knowledge. This also happens even if you have a security plugin installed. A backup allows you to recover your website after it experiences a security issue. You should take note that the backup can only restore the files saved when the backup was performed. Any content you uploaded between the backup and the security issue will not be recovered. But this is better than completely losing your WordPress website.

  • Backup Service May Not Be Offered By Your Hosting Company

While many companies offer a backup service for websites they are hosting, there may be instances when the service is not included in the package you bought. This makes it important for you to back up your WordPress database regularly.

Updating a WordPress Website

There are two ways for you to update your WordPress website: the one-click update and manual update.

One-Click Update

The one-click update allows you to update your website with a single click. You can go to the Updates screen on the Dashboard. On the updates screen, simply click on the “Update Now” button to start updating your website. But make sure to back up your files before you start the process.

Manual Update

Step 1: Back up the website

Step 2: Deactivate any installed plugins. You can deactivate them going to the list of Installed Plugins and selecting all the plugins. Then you can apply the Deactivate bulk action.

Step 3: Retrieve the files. You can download the files from the WordPress website and save them into your computer.

Step 4: Update the root by deleting the wp-admin and wp-includes files and replace them with the new versions.

Step 5: Update wp-content. Copy the new wp-content folder and save them into your existing wp-content folder

Step 6: Update the other files. You should copy the new root files into your directory. You can overwrite old files in the directory before the update became available.

Step 7: Review wp-config. You can review the new wp-config-sample.php files and decide if you should save any of the settings into your wp-config

Step 8: Update your database.

Step 9: Reactivate the plugins you deactivated earlier.

It is also important to clear the cache of your browser to complete the whole upgrade process.