ALL THE TIME!
HOW OFTEN DO YOU NEED TO UPDATE
• The longer you wait to update, the
harder it will be.
• Updates can be critical for security.
• Updates can be critical for
functionality (e.g. to work with
latest WordPress version)
• Read changelogs for important
notes, like if major functionality
changes requiring you to update
template files or styles.
• Use tool to manage multiple sites, otherwise, updates are too
• With site management, you can update ALL plugins across ALL
sites quickly! Good for patches, which majority of updates are.
USING DESKTOPSERVER - $99.95
CREATE A STAGING SITE LOCALLY
• Backup using BackupBuddy, BackWPUp, or Duplicator plugin
• Choose Zip archive with DesktopServer Pro. Done!
USING WP STAGING PLUGIN - $0
CREATE A STAGING SITE IN SUBFOLDER
• Works on non-managed,
shared hosting accounts.
USING MANAGED WORDPRESS HOSTING
CREATE A STAGING SITE
• WP Engine, Get Flywheel, and SiteGround provide one-click
USING WP STAGECOACH - $4/MONTH/SITE
CREATE A STAGING SITE REMOTELY
• Create a staging copy of your
live site with one click.
• Copy changes from your
staging site back to your live
• Choose which changes to
import. You can import some
or all of your file changes,
and/or your database
BACKUP VIA PLUGIN
• BackWPUp - Free plugin, lots of options for scheduling and sending to
• Duplicator - Pro version can be used for scheduling backups. Free
version for duplicating the site quickly. Great for migrations.
• BackupBuddy - Paid plugin. Great for scheduling and migrations.
• UpDraftPlus - Similar to BackWPUp - paid remote backups.
• Not all hosts will work well - might need to enable alternate cron in
wp-config.php file: http://ithemes.com/codex/page/
• Keep backups reasonable size! Exclude large files and uploads folders.
BACKUP VIA SERVICE
• Can be more reliable because not relying on PHP to run.
• WorpDrive - my personal favorite. Great pricing. Has test
restores, so you can be sure your backups really are working!
• VaultPress - great option by Automattic.
ORDER OF OPERATIONS
1. Update plugins first. Replace old plugins.
2. Update theme.
3. Update WordPress core.
4. If okay on staging, can do the same on live or deploy staging files
to live (depending on staging environment).
• Can do patch (bug fix updates) live.
• Good to have backup just in case.
• Have FTP/SFTP/shell and cPanel access handy.
PATCHES, UPDATES, UPGRADES
UNDERSTANDING SOFTWARE VERSIONING
• Sequence-based identifiers are used to convey the significance of
changes between releases
• 4.3 to 4.3.1 - typically bug patch, fix - just do it!
• 4.3.1 to 4.4 - usually update to functionality - read changelog
• 4.4 to 5.0 - is major change to software - test thoroughly
• Read change logs: http://wordpress.org/plugins - find your plugin.
Click Changelog tab.
JUST UPDATE THESE - DON’T WORRY, BE HAPPY!
• Beware the COMPLETE CODE CLEANUP. This will break your site.
NEW FEATURES =
• Example of WooCommerce 2.4
release followed by immediate
• Update to new version IF you
need a new feature.
• Okay to wait a short while for
immediate bug fixes.
• Always update if security patch!
• Always do the patches!
USE LICENSE KEYS
UPDATING PREMIUM PLUGINS
• Always enter license key for premium plugins.
• Purchase premium plugins even if bundled with theme. Theme
developers may be slow to update their bundled plugins.
• Use the least number of plugins you need.
• Use the more popular plugins.
• Pay for plugins! Plugins with Pro option will have
• Donate to your free plugin developer.
• Use plugins by developers with good reputation
and previous experience.
• Check support tab.
• Don’t use old plugins!!!!
PLUGIN TEMPLATE/STYLE UPDATES
• If plugin uses customizable templates (e.g. WooCommerce,
NextGEN Gallery, The Events Calendar), compare child theme
templates to update plugin templates.
• Plugin may have moved, deleted, or renamed the stylesheets and
templates you have mirrored in your child theme.
• Use Child Theme - https://codex.wordpress.org/Child_Themes
• If no child, use Jetpack’s Custom CSS module to make style
• Read changelog to see if major update or just patch
• Compare modified child theme files to parent theme after update
• Export theme options if possible before updating
• Note: If a theme name changes, all options will be reset to default
• Some updates are BIG and require recreating parts of the site -
time these for site redesign
ENTER LICENSE KEY
• If Envato theme or plugin doesn’t have license area, install the
Envato WordPress Toolkit plugin and enter your user name and
MANUALLY UPDATING PARENT THEME
• If no way to auto update theme, then download latest version
• Download a copy of your current theme for backup
• Upload the new version of the theme to the theme’s folder
• Be sure to OVERWRITE the older theme — don’t have two copies
CHANGES TO NOTE
• Updated theme may use new shortcodes.
• Updated theme may use new HTML, so you’ll need to update your
• Updated theme may have changed location of template files, so
you’ll need to make sure to match your child theme files to the
• Update theme may have new theme options.
JUST DO IT!
• Do all patch/security updates immediately - no need for staging,
e.g. 4.3 to 4.3.1.
• Major version numbers - okay to wait a little bit, e.g. 4.3 to 4.4, to
be sure your plugins have been updated for it.
• Test major version updates in staging to be sure plugins and
themes play well.
IF UPDATE FAILS OR CAN’T UPDATE
• Download core files from WordPress.org.
• Unzip archive.
• Copy all files over EXCEPT wp-content
folder. Replace whatever is existing.
UPGRADING DATABASE TABLES
• After major WP update, you will likely need to visit your site’s
Dashboard and will be prompted to update the database tables.
WHAT IS TROUBLESHOOTING?
• Identify variables
• Eliminate variables
• Variables include:
• Hosting - MySQL and PHP versions (and Apache)
• Themes and plugins
• WordPress core
• Modifications made to your child theme
TROUBLESHOOTING PLUGIN UPDATES
• If white screen of death, rename plugins folder to plugins-old
• Login to Dashboard and go to plugins page - all plugins will show
• Rename plugins folder back to plugins
• Activate plugins one at a time
• See if issue is repeatable using TwentyFifteen theme
• Find plugin on wordpress.org >
click Developers tab
• Download previous version
• De-activate and delete the
broken version on your site
• Upload and activate the old,
• NOT a long-term solution!
• Edit your wp-config.php file in the public_html (or WordPress
install directory) and change the line define(‘WP_DEBUG’, false);
to define(‘WP_DEBUG’, true);
• Install Query Monitor plugin to check for PHP errors as well as
• WordPress recommend your host supports:
• PHP version 5.6 or greater - may need to update PHP
• MySQL version 5.5 or greater - may need to update DB
• Apache or Nginx are most robust and feature-rich server
• WordPress works with PHP 5.2.4+ and MySQL 5.0+, but some
plugins might not.
• Time for a new host?
CLEAR YOUR CACHE
• Clear your WordPress cache via your plugin settings
• Clear your server cache at web host (WP Engine, SiteGround, etc.)
• Clear your Cloudflare cache
• Clear your browser cache
• Sign up at wordpress.org to always get the latest news from WP
• Sign up for sucuri.net emails to get latest security news
• Submit your site to Google Search Console: http://askwpgirl.com/
• Optimize your database: http://askwpgirl.com/optimize-wordpress-
@askwpgirl - http://askwpgirl.com
Angela Bowman, Boulder, CO