How to Update Your WordPress Plugins Safely

Updating plugins can be a risk to both your site and your sanity. Follow our handy guide to learn how to update your WordPress plugins safely without risking your website!

While the idea of updating your plugins may make your cringe slightly, we’re here to tell that most WordPress plugin updates shouldn’t cause a problem for your site. That is, if you do them correctly and safely. If you’re not sure how to make that happen, we’re here to help. Let’s look at what you need to do to safely update both WordPress and your WordPress plugins.

How to Update Your WordPress Plugins Safely

Why Should I Update My WordPress Plugins?

WordPress Plugins need to be updated because keeping old versions is opening the door for hackers to break in. This not only compromises your site’s security and creates unnecessary headaches. The same goes for plugins, but the problems don’t stop there. Plugins can stop working altogether when they’re not updated. If you don’t want this to happen, do the updates.

When you see updates to your plugins or your version of WordPress, we don’t recommend clicking on them by yourself, especially if you’ve never done it before. Having a trusted professional walk you through the process can prevent any site crashes or other problems. 

How Often Should I Update My Site?

When it comes to site updates, it’s usually recommended that you check for updates at least once a quarter or every three months. This minimizes the potential of missing critical updates, having repeated site crashes, and/or conflicts. It also makes troubleshooting much easier for both you and your support team.

If it’s time to update your plugins and you have some help from a trusted source, let’s get started:

Step 1: Check for Updates

The easiest way to spot if your site needs updates is to look for the ‘WordPress Update’ icon. It can be in two different locations, either as a symbol next to your site name or under the ‘Dashboard’ tab. Both should indicate the number of updates available.

These two locations will indicate if updates are available

If you do have any updates, you should click on them and visit the ‘WordPress Updates’ page. Here you can see if you have the latest version of WordPress, as well as view any plugins that have new versions available to download. Below is an example of what your page should look like.

Example of Wordpress Updates Page

Step 2: Prepare a Backup

Before you do any updates, it’s a good idea to have a full site backup. This is just in case anything unexpected happens. You don’t want to start from square one when all you wanted to do was an update. When you update WordPress and plugins, you can end up with major changes to the code of your site. Sometimes, there can be conflicts or issues of incompatibility between the update and the coding of the site itself. When this happens your site can crash hard!

The good news is that most website hosts have an automatic daily backup. These hosts will typically have a simplified backup service that’s integrated with their automatic backups. But, if you’re not so lucky, most site host providers do have a guide of how you can manually back up your system. Once you’ve created the backup, it’s time for step 3.

Step 3: Update WordPress

One of the most important things to remember about plugins updates is that they are, more often than not, designed for the latest version of WordPress. This means that before you rush to update your plugins, you need to make sure WordPress itself is on the latest version.

There will be a section of the ‘WordPress Updates’ page that states whether or not you have the latest version of WordPress. Make sure to download the latest version, then move on to the next step!

This is a display of what a Wordpress plugin should appear as

Step 4: Update Plugins

This is the moment you’ve been waiting for, but don’t go click crazy and update everything at once. You also want to be careful not to leave updates on “auto”. While most plugins can be done automatically without any issues to your site, others can cause problems. Be careful not to have auto-updates on plugins that are a vital component of your site’s function. This includes ones like Divi Builder, Gutenberg, or other page-builders. If you leave a plugin that holds your site together on auto, you could end up with a site that doesn’t work due to one problem that arises. 

With that said, go down the list of all of your available updates and do them individually. This will allow you to see if any specific ones cause problems. If you notice an issue with your site, simply load up your backup and then troubleshoot the issue with that particular plugin. 

You may also want to look into WordPress management services such as ManageWP to handle your plugin updates. These types of services let you consolidate different sites that you’re in charge of into one dashboard. This creates one-stop shopping and easy access to everything. 

After you’ve finsihed all your updates and have a site that’s still running properly it’s time to congratulate yourself on a job well done! You have successfully updated your version of WordPress and its plugins safely and efficiently!

For Help Updating Your WordPress Plugins, Contact the Support Team at TheeDigital

If you have trouble updating your plugins, or if you have a question about your website, our Support Department at TheeDigital is here to help! Please go to our support page to submit a support request and our team will get back to you promptly. Also, there are a variety of helpful FAQs that might answer your question right away!