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How to Upgrade Your WordPress Website – A Best Practices Demonstration – Part 9 – Question and Answers

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This is final part of How to Upgrade Your WordPress Website – A Best Practices Demonstration Tutorial Series. In this session, we take questions about the upgrade process that we demonstrated for our WordPress website.

Video Transcript

Rick: So I’m going to open it back up to questions now. There were a number of you who had questions that you asked when you registered. If you haven’t had that question answered, would you either raise your hand or post the question back to me? Because I’d like to make sure that I have all of your questions answered.

So Lewis asks me whether or not there will be a link to be able to view this and the answer is yeah, this will… I’m not really going to send you a link. What I’m going to do is post this in the Live Answers section when the video is ready to be viewed and you can come back and look at it under Live Answers. If you want a copy, a PDF copy of the slides for today, you just shoot me an email and I’ll email you a PDF copy of the slides. Otherwise, there will be a download link for the slides that you can download them from the video itself.

Lewis asks, “What is the name… what will these videos be called?” It’ll undoubtedly something like you know, How to Backup your WordPress Website. And if we come back over and just take a look at my site for example, Live Answers are always arranged alphabetically. I mean, not alphabetically. They’re never arranged alphabetically. They’re always arranged sequentially. And so with the latest Live Answers on the top, you can be assured that if you come looking for it you know, next week, it’ll be up here towards the top of the Live Answers. But you could also look for it you know, under topics, for example. Scroll down to upgrade WordPress and it’s not there now clearly because we’re still recording it but it will be listed under this topic. So you can always just use the Google Search also for upgrading WordPress and you’ll find it there as well.

Okay, let’s see where we are here, how we close we are. We’re getting there. Okay, let’s see. Don asks me what I think of WP Twin for backing up. I don’t have any knowledge or experience of WP Twin. The thing I would say is that you know, there are several highly touted less expensive plugins than Backup Buddy and one of my longtime members on my site you know, espouses one of them. I don’t remember which one it’s called. However, regularly it has problems with his transfers and I’ve never had a problem with Backup Buddy. So I do highly recommend Backup Buddy. If you’ve already purchased something else, by all means, feel free to use it. You know, try it. Make sure it works. But I’m… I have been… I had so much routine success with Backup Buddy that I wouldn’t consider using any other product because it’s always worked exactly as advertised every time I’ve tried to use it.

Sandy asks me how often I backup my site. Sandy, I backup my site… let’s see, let’s go back to that how I backup my site. I actually only… well okay, first off, I had this automatic backup using VaultPress. VaultPress backs up my site many times a day. And so I don’t really have to think about it. VaultPress checks my site, checks for any database change. As soon as it identifies a change, it makes a backup. So in the last year, there are 6700 backup snapshots of my site available for me to restore from. So that is… what is that, at least 30 a day, right?

I backup my site using Backup Buddy every time I do something that I think has a chance for failure so that is when I upgrade one of my big plugins or when I upgrade WordPress. That’s the same thing when I do a manual backup of my database. And then I do this fairly constant backup of my customization files simply because I do my work on my local copy of my site and then I upload that directly to the site. And so all my customization files, my custom function php files and custom CSS files which are always undergoing some kind of change are always maintained on my local computer which is sort of a routine manual backup.

Let’s see, how often should you back up your site? That kind of depends on how often you change your site and how important those changes are. If you make one post a week and the only other changes that there are is… let me spit this out. And the only other changes are comments then you know, maybe once a week is adequate. If you don’t have comments on your site and your site changes very infrequently then you know, it could be that you only need to backup your site every time you make a change. So I backup client sites if they don’t have an automatic backup system in place, I backup client sites about once a month. But it just depends on how mission-critical your sites are. Some of my demonstration sites, I never backup. I only backup only when I’m going to make a change that I want to preserve. So it’s entirely up to you although because BYOB Website is mission-critical, I pay to have it backed up several times a day so that I don’t lose anything.

Let’s see, Sandy says that the new version of WordPress seems to be having a lot of issues. What’s a good rule of thumb for waiting until things are settled before you upgrade? Well, I’m breaking that rule of thumb. Ordinarily, I don’t upgrade right away. Ordinarily, I wait because my most critical plugin, WishList Member has a way… has a long history of flaking out on new editions of WordPress. And so I actually usually wait until I know for sure that WishList Member has been upgraded to reflect the newest version. In your case, what I would do is double check those plugins that are mission-critical to you to make sure that they say that they’re compatible with WordPress 3.3. The biggest compatibility issue has to do with jQuery. The latest version of WordPress uses the latest version of jQuery and there are still lots and lots of plugins that use crummy methods of including their jQuery files which can cause problems. So you know, you… I guess the best rule of thumb is to look at your individual plugins, look at those mission-critical plugins and see if they are compatible with the next version of WordPress before you upgrade. But one of the purposes for me doing this is to be able to demonstrate what happens when things go wrong, if things do go wrong.

Okay, so Sandy… actually Sandy, I’m going to unmute your microphone rather than reading your question. Good morning, Sandy. How are you doing?

Sandy: I’m fine, Rick. The reason I’m asking my question is I updated several of my websites with the new WordPress 3.3. And everything went fine until I got to the very last one and it kind of went south on me. So I am in the process of trying to figure out how to fix it. And basically…

Rick: What does go south look like?

Sandy: Well, when I go into my WordPress admin, I get… it logs in to my profile or where my profile is and the dashboard shows nothing but blank screen.

Rick: Yeah.

Sandy: So I’m going to be looking at the jQuery because you just talked about that a little bit and I did see there’s quite a few pieces of information on the WordPress, on the website in the forum that a lot of people seem to be having a lot of trouble with a lot of things. But one WordPress site talks about installing the new version manually. What would I need to do to install it manually? What files would I need to do to?

Rick: Well, if you’re doing a manual install, what I would do is simply install wp-admin and wp-includes. You could leave everything else alone and just install those two folders. And you just write them over the top of the existing ones so you do it in Filezilla. You’d open it up in Filezilla… where did that go? You’d open it up in Filezilla and then you would essentially… you could do one or two things. You could either just delete wp-admin and wp-includes and then upload new versions there or you could you know, overwrite the old versions with new versions. That will probably solve the problem. If that doesn’t… usually, what happens is that some kind of a corruption happens when either admin or includes is being upgraded. And the manual install just… essentially just does it again, right? You’re just installing it again but now you’re being you know, specific about what you’re installing.

And if that doesn’t quite work, the thing to do would be to go into wp-content and what I would do would be to rename your plugins directory and then… like plugins old and then create a new plugins directory that is empty. That essentially turns off all your plugins and then try it again and see what your admin looks like.

Sandy: Okay, that’s fine. Thank you very much.

Rick: The trick here is to get admin working without the potential conflict of plugins. Now, some of your sites don’t use Thesis, do they?

Sandy: No actually, I’ve pretty much converted all of my sites over to Thesis because I find Thesis as very secure. I like Thesis. It’s very clear.

Rick: Okay.

Sandy: So I have them all on Thesis now.

Rick: So well then you don’t… because Thesis… I also have created a lot of sites to 3.3 and they are all test sites or sites I’m fooling around with. But they all upgraded very easily without any problems, without the kind of problems that we saw here earlier even. You know, they upgraded just fine. And so Thesis is working fine with it but plugins may not be.

Sandy: You know, I didn’t realize then. Unfortunately, my husband was wanting to upgrade for me and I wasn’t really privvy to what he was doing at the time. And I didn’t realize that before upgrades, we should deactivate all plugins so I learned something very valuable today.

Rick: Okay. Well… and the way to deactivate all the plugins if you don’t have access to your admin panel is simply to rename your plugins directory and then create a new one called plugins. Get it up and running and then what you can do is… and then you can rename the old plugins directory back to plugins and then start it up again. And what that will have done is essentially deactivate all those plugins and you can selectively reactivate them.

Sandy: Well, I generally do not upgrade to a new WordPress version until like a week or so later because I let people work out the issues. And I’m going in the forums and I see there’s a lot of people having a lot of issues so I’m learning a great deal.

Rick: This is the case though every time. There’s always people having problems every time the thing changes. And so it’s not actually unique to this, to WordPress 3.3. WordPress 3.3 isn’t any more of a problem than any of the others have been. In fact, WordPress 3.0 was probably bigger.

Sandy: I really like the improvement they did. You know, just being able to not have all the blogs, all the sidebars on the left open when you’re working in here you know? I like that a great deal so they have made an awful lot of improvement.

Rick: Right.

Sandy: So I’ll work on my issues but thank you very much.

Rick: Okay, you’re welcome. Nice to talk to you, Sandy.

Sandy: Okay.

Okay let’s see, Don. Don, I’m going to unmute your microphone. Don, do you have a microphone? Are you with us? This is for Don Roberts. Don, are you with me?

Okay unfortunately, the problem that you’re having, I can’t really… oh okay, you’re going to set it up. That’s good. While you’re setting it up, I’m going to unmute your microphone and I’m going to go to Michelle. Let’s see, Michelle where are you here? Michelle Miller, okay. Michelle, are you with me?

Michelle: Yes.

Rick: So what was your question?

Michelle: I’m a new beginner here. My question is is there a way to work on my under construction site offline before I publish the online… to go live?

Rick: Yes, there are… well, there are 3 ways to do that. The first one is to use a plugin on a live site that essentially says it’s under construction and will only show you the pages if you’re logged in. Your 2nd choice is to develop it on a local server on your computer which is what I do for my site. I do my development on my local computer and then I transfer that to the live site. And your 3rd option is to do it on a development server and transfer to the live site.

Now, I have videos on the first 2. So if you search for… let’s see, in terms of setting up a live copy, if you search for… let’s see, local server, I think. Try that local server for a second. You’re going to find that I have… yeah for example, using Bitnami to create a local installation of your WordPress site, this is a very easy way to create a local… to have WordPress running on your own computer and for you to be able to do your development there. And once you get that ready, if you look a little further through my site, you’ll see that there are ways… that there are more videos on how to transfer it from the local to your live site.

And your other choice is… let’s see, look for development server. Let’s see, okay we’re not looking at the Bitnami one but… and then here’s this one, this series, how to manually clone your WordPress website. And this is all about how to you know, develop it on one server and then manually clone it and move it to another. So I’ve got this series on manually cloning and then if you go to the Backup Buddy or if you go to Backup Buddy, there’s also videos on how to use Backup Buddy to… this one here, Backup Buddy demonstration which will show you how to use Backup Buddy to do the same thing. So there’s a variety of ways to do it. Did that make sense?

Michelle: Alright, thank you. Oh yeah, very much, thank you. I just… I haven’t had a chance to go over those sources yet.

Rick: Oh yeah, absolutely. I mean, there are so many videos in the site. It can be… it’ll take you forever to get through them all anyway so I’m happy to point you in the right direction.

Michelle: Okay, thank you.

Rick: You betcha. Good bye.

Okay let’s see, Don are you up and working yet? Where did you go? Yeah, here we go. Good morning, Don. Let’s see, it looks like you don’t have the sound set up yet. Okay, so I’ll just look and see if there’s any other questions.

Okay well maybe Don, the thing to do is next week at one of the live sessions, just see if you can have the microphone thing resolved or call in on your telephone and we can talk about it in one of the live sessions next week. It is the sort of thing that’s going to be really hard to do like over the forum. I mean, it is the kind of problem solving that we’re really going to do by me looking over your shoulder and looking at what you’ve got and then making some suggestions to you. If you really need to solve this problem before next week’s sessions, you could come over to live answers and take a look at some of the most recent live answers here because I did just do a series on how to troubleshoot. Although actually, you know what? It doesn’t look like my series, How to Troubleshoot is actually posted yet. Okay, I take that back. Any day now, the series I did last week about how to troubleshoot…

Don: Testing: 1, 2, 3.

Rick: Oh there you go. You’re on.

Don: Yeah, here I am. Sorry about that.

Rick: No problem. So tell me about your problem.

Don: Well so what happene was when I upgraded from… I think it was 3.1.5 to 3.2.1 WordPress with Thesis 1.8.2, all of a sudden, the tags… the abilitiy to you know, choose new tags or select previous tags, it just kind of went away.

Rick: By that, you’re talking about inside of your posts if you’re editing a post or creating a post…

Don: Yeah, that’s it.

Rick: So here I am and you’re saying that you can’t say, choose from the most used tags like that.

Don: Right. So yeah, the… right there where it says tags and it says add, I could type something in there but nothing will appear like where it says public video on yours. Nothing appears there as you know, normally it would. And when I click the choose from the most used tags, there’s actually nothing there but from you know, many posts previous to that before I did the upgrade, I had all kinds of tag. And so they’re just kind of disappeared and I don’t know exactly why that happened.

Rick: And if you come over here to under posts and tags, did the tags still actually exist here or are they all gone?

Don: They do for the posts that were prior to the upgrade but then anything since the upgrade just doesn’t have anything there.

Rick: Okay but I mean, if you go to your tags section so this is unrelated to any post. This is just telling you these are all your tags. If you go to that, you can still see all your tags, all the tags you’ve created in the past?

Don: I’ll go over to it right now. Hang on a second. Yeah, for the… it’s still responding kind of slowly. Let’s see, yeah there’s a lot of tags that are in there. In fact, I’ve got 5 pages of tags that are there.

Rick: Okay so then what I would recommend that you do is… I would recommend that you either reinstall 3.2.1 or upgrade to 3.3. If you reinstall 3.2.1, you can do the manual… I mean, you can do the automatic reinstall by going over here to updates and under updates, there is this reinstall button. So I would try that first. If that doesn’t work, I would download 3.2.1 and use Filezilla to upload a clean copy of wp admin and wp includes because that’s where the problem lie. So you would essentially replace wp admin and wp includes on your server with clean copies. And if that doesn’t work then I would take a look at… I would just deactivate all yoru plugins and test it and see what happens when all of your plugins are deactivated.

Don: Okay. I’ll give that a try.

Rick: And if that doesn’t work then you know, you could try installing 3.3 because installing 3.3 is going to replace all of those files again anyway. It’s definitely a problem in your files. If you still have tags there then they still exist in your database. So the only problem you’re having is your posts’ admin page being able to access them or save them or whatever.

Don: Okay, I’ll give that a try. Thank you.

Rick: And like I said, I do have some videos that we posted in the next few days, I’m sure, that… where I go through a long… where I go through solving a problem like you’re describing. It’s not the same problem but it’s one of these inexplicable problems that you can’t really… doesn’t really have a clear answer and that all the easy things we tried didin’t solve. And ultimately, it did in fact, include doing what I’m suggesting to you which is reinstalling wp admin and wp includes and… in order to make this whole thing work. And so I do have some vidoes that’ll be up and available for viewing here very shortly. I thought they were already up so they should be up here soon.

Don: Okay, well I’ll give that a try. So it’s wp admin and wp includes.

Rick: Right.

Don: Okay, thank you.

Rick: Okay, you’re absolutely welcome.

Well, I think that’s probably it then. I don’t think there are any other questions here. So thank you very much everybody for joining me. I’m glad it wasn’t a huge disaster and we’ll be back again on Monday for week 2 of our live sessions on How to Create an Online Store using Shopp and Thesis. And then we’ll be back on Wednesday with our morning and afternoon live call-in sessions and then again, next Thursday morning with our beginners’ call-in sessions which is what this stood in for today. And I just look forward to talking with all of you again soon. Thanks a lot. Bye bye.

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