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Upgrading WordPress

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Now let’s look at how to upgrade WordPress. I’ve got a WordPress site here. This site is a Thesis 2.2 theme with the Agility 3.2 skin and it’s using an older version of WordPress. Let’s login to the site.

Where to Find Upgrade Notices

First, first question is how do you know that there is a new version of WordPress available? Well, the first way you know is that you see this notice up here. It’s showing that it’s got one WordPress update, four plugin updates and three theme updates. So that’s where to look.

When Should You Upgrade?

The next question is when should you upgrade? There have been problems with WordPress and compatibility with various themes and plugins in the past and so I typically recommend that you upgrade cautiously. And by that I mean check with some reputable source that you know and trust and see whether or not upgrading is safe in your situation rather than just immediately upgrading.

If you’re a member of BYOBwebsite I generally send out an email if you should hold off on upgrading. I generally test these things whether in beta version or not to see if there any issues. I don’t always catch them but I often catch them.

As I said if there’s going to be a problem I’ll send out an email to everybody saying you may want to hold off upgrading until something changes. We also maintain a discussion in the forum about updating. People will go ahead and upgrade and then tell us how many sites they’ve updated and you can see what kinds of problems they’ve had if any.

Generally speaking I upgrade instantly. As soon as 4.7 is available, I upgrade because it’s my business. I need to make sure that it will work for everybody else. I use all my own sites which means that if something is going to fail with the current version of WordPress I’ll see it on my site too. So I generally upgrade right away.

It can also depend upon what type of site you have. If you run an ecommerce site or a membership site where people are dependent upon you because they paid you money then my recommendation is to upgrade cautiously.

Why You Don’t Want to Wait a Long Time to Upgrade

That doesn’t mean waiting a couple years to upgrade. It may mean waiting a week or two to upgrade but you should not wait a long time because there can be security holes that develop in older versions of WordPress.

The best way to make sure that you don’t get hacked is to make sure that all your plugins, themes and WordPress are all up to date. You should make a habit of at least once a month updating everything.

If your site’s not mission-critical or if you’ve got one you’re playing around with, by all means update instantly.

Why You Should Backup Before an Upgrade

I’m not going to demonstrate this here because that’s not really what this is about but I strongly advise you to use whatever backup system you are using to back your site up before you upgrade. If you don’t back up before you upgrade then it can be very difficult for you to recover from some kind of problem. I absolutely recommend that you backup before you upgrade.

I have already backed this site up so all I’m going to have to do is click the button that says update now right. WP engine will ask me whether or not I need to back this up but I’ve already backed it up so it doesn’t matter in this case. If you’re not with WP engine you’re not going to see this.

Upgrade Process

Updating usually goes very smoothly. I’ve updated a whole bunch of sites since Tuesday when it came out and have not had any problems. Now, this is a working site where I have error reporting turned on and I’m getting funny little error message that you don’t have to worry about. You wouldn’t see unless you were a developer and had this setting turned on.

This is what you end up seeing – there’s discussions down here of everything that’s in this new version of WordPress. And there are credits and there’s a discussion of the underlying philosophy of WordPress as an open source software. Anyway, it’s very simple upgrade.

What to do if the Upgrade Fails

And what to do if it fails? Here’s what I want you to do if it fails. I want you to call me on the phone because unless you’re an expert recovering from a failed upgrade it can be a total pain in the butt. My office telephone number is 206 801 5209.

This number is actually at the bottom of every page on the website. It’s on every email I ever send out so you should be able to find this phone number really easily. If you end up with a failure, call me and I’ll help you dig out from under it.

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