Over the last couple of years, WordPress has become the most popular website platform in the world. It enables its users to launch blogs or multi-layered websites for free. Also, there are numerous themes and plugins that need to be paid. The key thing in keeping a WordPress site or blog safe and completely functional is upgrading it on a regular basis, in a proper way.
Increase security through new versions
Any software that is used for a longer period of time without updating can turn into a potential malware bomb. Online thieves are extremely skillful at penetrating into software items that have not been refreshed recently. The users that fail to download newer versions of their WordPress sites, themes or plugins are exposed to the risk of being hacked. Their online data can be stolen or even deleted. Every update comprises better software solutions that increase the security of your data and your customized WordPress material.
Wait for tested versions
Once in a while there has to be a major update. It can be recognized by the change of the first or second figure in the name of the given WordPress version. The competitive market, brimming with rivals and new similar platforms dictates such moves. From Mozilla Firefox to WordPress, many online platforms introduce new versions, in order to enhance the overall user experience.
However, those big updates often come with bugs or mistakes. They are usually corrected and repaired in the improved versions that follow afterward. So, if you already have a site on WordPress, wait for the tested and improved updates.
Easy with automatic updates
Referring to this particular part of the update process, but also to WordPress in general, it is crucial for every user to get familiar with WordPress to master all the benefits it brings (e.g. free items, customer support). Using a free platform to create a website that has a business value on your own requires that the launcher learns a lot about WordPress. So, here you should know that the default mode is that every WordPress site has automatic updates. Although it might seem user-friendly since it looks like a time-saving option, it might cause problems in the website functionality. The largest potential issue here is that plugins are sometimes released after new major versions, which leaves space for hackers and malware software to get into your website data. Changing the update options in the wp-config.php file to the manual mode will help you increase the functionality and security of your website, given that you do not forget to update it regularly.
Create backup prior to updating
It sometimes happens that an updated version of your WordPress site has bugs that reduce the performance of the site. It is not a big deal for the site itself, but it can cause a frustration for the visitors of your site. However, such an outcome can be prevented. The easiest way to do it is using fresh updates on another version of your website, i.e. its copy. It can be either a local installation area (your own computer) or a spare server, as well as a virtual private server. By creating a safe zone for trying the updates, you will be able to examine the new functionality without a risk of losing your visitors.
Probably the easiest way is downloading the complete folder in which everything about your site is preserved to your own computer. A great solution for this stage is an FTP-client tool. You can check some of the most widely appreciated here. Also, it would be advisable to save another copy on another device, so that you ensure that your WordPress content is completely safe and then launch the update.
Step-by-step manual update
Let’s have a look at the steps that need to be taken to install the WordPress updates to your site.
Create copies of the data and the WordPress installation.
Get the newest version of WordPress and copy the files on your hard disk.
Plugins must be deactivated.
After accessing your server through an FTP-client tool, delete the old versions of the WordPress files, but leave the following ones: wp-content folder, wp-config.PHP, wp-includes/languages, as well as your robots.text and your.htaccess files.
Use the files from the latest version of WordPress from your computer and upload them to the folders on the site they are supposed fit.
Launch the upgrade script from the wp-admin location in the WordPress backend.
Go to the WordPress settings and make sure to update the permalinks.
Check on the dashboard whether the new versions for themes are already available; if yes, install them.
Activate the plugins to test their functionality with the new version of WordPress.
Finally, create new security keys (an automatic generator is a useful solution) and put them into the file wp-config.php on the server.
When your update procedure is done, ask your clients to give you their comments on the functionality of the site. If they are satisfied, you have done a great job. If they are not, keep changing and updating the core version, themes and plugins until you reach WordPress perfection.
Dan Radak is a Web Hosting security professional, with ten-year experience. He collaborates with a number of companies in the field of online security. Currently, closely collaborating with a couple of e-commerce companies. In his free time he makes beer at his home or fishing. You can reach him on Twitter and Google+