When should I update my WordPress Blog?
This is a question I am hit with often by clients and friends. It’s actually a really good question for a couple of reasons. Your blog is so important to you that you become worried that upgrading my cause issues with your theme, plugins, or worse…erase your WordPress database. Well I am here to help answer some of your questions and concerns. I will keep this short….kinda.
Minor updates & major updates
I am not going to get really specific here but the main difference between the two is simple. Minor updates typically increases by a subversion e.g. 3.1.1 upgrades to 3.1.2. A major upgrade typically increase from 3.1 to 3.2….or better yet….3.2 to 4.0. Now what sets the version numbers anyway? There are several different reasons but for simplicity sake, minor updates usually only contain fixes for bugs, errors, or security holes. Major updates often introduce new or improved features or tools for your WordPress blog. That isn’t a perfect answer but you get the idea.
Risks involved with updating your WordPress Blog
If we loved in a perfect world then things would be boring but everything would work just as we wanted them to work. We don’t live in that world and “things” happen. Like updating your blog for years and it never breaks but one day you run an update and now your blog is all messed up! First question to ask yourself is, “When was my last back up?” Well hopefully you are performing an backup weekly or so (depending on how often your blog changes e.g. new posts, comments, etc). If you don’t back up weekly then you MUST back up your blog before running any updates for WordPress plugins, theme, or core files. If you lose everything or possibly just mess something up you can then at least hire a web developer to fix it for you but in order for them to restore it, they may need a backup.
How to perform a WordPress backup
There are different solutions for backups from different hosting providers. Here is a tutorial on How to backup your WordPress blog using Cpanel. Most hosting companies use Cpanel/WHM for their shared/dedicated hosting account. However, if you use GoDaddy hosting or some other hosting provider then you may need to contact them and ask support the proper why to perform and update on your blog/site.
WordPress Automated Backup Plugins = Fail.
Several people recommend using free plugins that are available in the WordPress Plugin Repository that will running automated backups on your WordPress database. I personally don’t recommend using these for several reasons.
- The plugin may no longer but supported and out-dated with the latest version of WordPress which may just make things worse.
- I believe those plugins ONLY back up your WordPress database and NOT your theme’s files. So if you have custom graphics and no backups of them, don’t expect your plugin to backup those files to in case of an error.
- Their backups aren’t full. The plugin doesn’t back up your entire hosting account so if you have email addresses, add-on sites, images saved in your media library, etc. When your blog crashes, you won’t have a back up copy of any of those.
- You don’t know who actually created the plugin and if they even knew what they were doing. Your WordPress blog is so important to you so why would you trust your valuable database data to a WordPress backup plugin that ws developed by some kid who doesn’t really know Jack from Jill. :O
Next time you are asked to perform an update on your WordPress blog, feel better about it by performing a full WordPress Backup first. If it’s a minor version update then you shouldn’t really have much to worry about (hopefully lol) but always be caustious when updating to a major version. You are best to let that warning message in your Dashboard linger for a few weeks before updating. That will give theme and plugin developers more than enough time to test their products with the newest version to be sure of compatibility. Happy blogging.