The Importance of Keeping WordPress Up To Date

Tips and Guides/ 17th Aug 2016/Jamie Hoyles

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Many of our clients use WordPress as their chosen content management system to host their website. No matter which hosting platform is used, it is imperative to keep the core install up to date along with any add-ons which may also be used.

WordPress has 3 areas which should be updated regularly – the base platform, the theme and the plug-ins.

With any installation of WordPress via Softaculous you can set updates to be automatic. This is very easy to set up within your cPanel and takes away the requirement to log-in to your admin control panel every couple of weeks in order to apply any updates manually.

This article details why you should ensure your WordPress install is kept up to date…

Security

This is the primary reason you need to have a current WordPress install. With millions of websites hosted using WordPress it’s not surprising that it is a huge target for hackers and other malicious people looking for exploits.

Security risks are identified regularly by the security team at WordPress and they will release patches or updates in order to fix these vulnerabilities. We often see hacks on older versions of WordPress installs or plug-ins – By not updating WordPress you are leaving yourself open to attack.

If you found your website hacked this could have a serious impact on your business – loss of client data, the site being offline and of course to fix is likely to end up costing a great deal of time, effort and money.

Performance

The WordPress developers will always try to improve performance and speed of their product. Each new core update to the platform comes with developments that makes the WordPress install run faster and more efficiently.

As an example, a recent WordPress update improved performance for navigation menus. Another update focused on Javascript performance.

Plugins also get updates to improve their functionality, this could be to speed up scripts or queries or run more efficiently.

Because speed has such a huge bearing on SEO this is another important reason to keep WordPress up to date.

Bug Fixes

If you are a user who does keep their WordPress install up to date you may have noticed that WordPress often release small updates to fix bugs and apply security patches – these will have an x.x.x version number rather than x.x which is a major release.

A major release will tend to be very stable and bug-free due to the rigorous development cycle and the huge number of people who will help with testing. However often something will be missed and a bug will crop up further down the line, therefore a minor release will come out to fix it. For example, the 4.5.2 Security Release was introduced after a vulnerability was identified in a third-party library WordPress uses for uploading files.

Features and Added Functionality

By ensuring your WordPress install, theme & plug-ins are all using the latest versions you will always have access to the latest features.

One of the latest updates to the WordPress core install provided a major overhaul to the admin screen along with accessibility improvements.

It is often plug-ins where you will see the major improvements however. Developers often update their product in order to improve performance and keep the downloads and purchases coming in. It is not uncommon for new features to be regularly be introduced to the most popular plug-ins.

Compatibility

Following a major WordPress update, many plugins will also get an update to ensure compatibility with the new version, or to make use of new features. Often a plugin won’t need to be updated because it will remain compatible, but you will see from your dashboard whether a new version is available to you.

Occasionally you may find that an update to WordPress or to a plugin results in compatibility problems with another aspect of WordPress – perhaps another plug-in for example, this is why it’s important to perform a back-up of your site prior to updating.

If you have an accounts query it is likely Jamie will be the one to help you resolve it...! Away from the office he is a condemned supporter of Blackburn Rovers, enjoys watching and playing cricket and appreciates a good meal out.
We have a very strong team here at Clook and we build on everyone's strengths and weaknesses, you have to be able to make a good brew too!

Chris James

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