Quick Tip: Stay On Top Of Your WordPress Updates

WordPress released a new update this week. It's version 4.1.2, which is an important security release. Make sure you update your sites promptly if you don't have automatic updates enabled.

A security issue affecting numerous plugins was also identified, so don't be surprised if you see a lot of plugin update notifications come through this week. Make sure you run those updates as soon as you can, backing up your database, theme, and plugin files first.

If you use WordPress to run your blog, author website, or freelance writer website, it's important to stay on top of updates like these. This includes core updates like this one, plugin updates and theme updates. I know how tempting it can be to wait sometimes. But it's usually not a good idea, especially when it comes to security updates like many of those rolling out this week.

By staying on top of WordPress updates, you:

  • get the latest features available;
  • run a more secure WordPress site;
  • get bug fixes to problems in previous versions.

If you haven't checked for updates recently, try to set aside some time for it today. It only takes a couple of minutes to back everything up and run updates. If you have a lot of sites to update and you want to speed things up, you can consider using ManageWP or InfiniteWP to manage your site updates from a single dashboard.

Do you usually stay on top of WordPress updates? Have you ever put them off and later regretted it due to a site hack or some other problem that developed? Share your thoughts in the comments.


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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, consultant, and indie author. She runs numerous websites & blogs including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, NakedPR, and Kiss My Biz.

Jenn has 25 years' experience as a professional writer and editor and over 20 years' experience in marketing and PR (working heavily in digital PR, online marketing, social media, SEO, new media, and thought leadership publication). She also has 19 years' professional blogging and web publishing experience (including web development) and around 18 years of experience as an indie author / publisher.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names and is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

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11 thoughts on “Quick Tip: Stay On Top Of Your WordPress Updates”

  1. When I did the last update, it required quite a bit of patience: 1) Didn’t play nice with my theme, and 2) showed my traffic plummeting–although it turned out to be a conflict with the Google Analytics code rather than an actual decrease in visitors.

    It took some sleuthing to get things right. I may not have a brilliant IT brain, but I’m persistent!

    • I’m sorry you had trouble with a previous update Jake. As long as you remember to back up any files you’ll be updating, restoring them is pretty quick and simple. I have one plugin in particular that gives me a lot of problems with updates. And the plugin author has a tendency to release updates before he should, so after every big update you can expect up to a half dozen bug fix updates in quick succession as people report the many problems they usually find. It’s incredibly frustrating.

      One way to deal with potential issues like these is to always click the link in the updates list that shows you what’s changed. For the updates now, many of the plugins are just updating for a security fix. In that case you shouldn’t have any new compatibility problems. But if there’s a big list of updates in the changelog, then be more cautious about backups, and be ready to restore the old version quickly if something breaks. When it comes to problem-plugins, I always check the support forums before updating them to see what kinds of bugs and compatibility issues people have reported so far. If you frequently have compatibility issues with your theme, it can help to check your theme’s support forum too, especially if the problems are with popular plugins that other users of the theme likely have too.

      I’m glad your traffic issue was just a problem with the stats! That sounds like it could have been a nightmare if it was a result of something else.

      • Oh, yeah–I used the “restore” function a few months back when I uploaded the version of Thesis that didn’t allow plugins (widgets, maybe? Something catastrophic…), and it temporarily destroyed my site. A good reminder to do updates at an off-time, when you are less likely to have any traffic to witness your disaster!

        The forums are generally helpful, but yours is a good suggestion to look at the list of updates; I tend to shoot first, ask questions/troubleshoot later 🙂

        Out of curiosity, have you been happy with Icegram as far as usability and info collection? I’m considering using that for the launch of my upcoming ebook…

        And your Freshbooks ad is a reminder that I need to dump Quickbooks!

        • LOL That sounds like a “fun” approach. 😉

          I like the no-witness strategy! I usually run single updates or “safe” ones any any time. But I’ll stay up late and run bigger sets of updates overnight so I can quietly clean up any mess that might result.

          I haven’t been using Icegram for very long and haven’t even tested their analytics add-on yet. I’ve mostly put it up to test with various themes, and then I let it sit because they were releasing updates that would give me more design control, which I would need in order to keep it. I simply haven’t had time to play with the updated versions to see if it’s what I need yet. I’m interested in doing more with Bloom from Elegant Themes. But they don’t have the top bar. So I might combine it with HelloBar on a test site before deciding on a longer-term solution here. Other than my lack of time to test things, it was pretty easy to use, so things were good on that front. 🙂

          I won’t tell my hubby what you said about his beloved Quickbooks. 😉 He loves it. I haven’t used it in a long time, so I don’t know about its current quirks.

          • Ha, I reckon your hubs is more accounting-savvy than I. (Albeit not a high bar to clear.) I could have someone smart set me up so that it’s a better resource for *all* of my bookkeeping, but it’s overkill as an invoicing-only platform.

            As it turns out, I tried Icegram last night and isn’t displaying for me…not sure if it’s a conflict with Thesis 1.8.6 or something else. Experiments (and “fun”) will continue, evidently.

            Have a great weekend!

          • He’s a numbers guy — software developer — so I suppose it comes with the territory. He gets giddy about it, and my eyes start to glaze over. LOL Definitely overkill for just invoicing though.

            It’s very possible that there are Thesis issues. I remember it having a lot of conflicts. But here are a few quick things to check. Maybe you’ll get lucky and it’ll be something simple. 🙂

            – See where it’s set to show up — maybe it’s only set for posts, the homepage, or pages and you tried to view it elsewhere.

            – See if there are any timers set that might be delaying it from showing up when you test.

            – See if it’s set to only show for non-logged in visitors. I made this mistake several times when testing, wondering why it wouldn’t come up for me. 🙂

            Might not help, but hopefully it’s something simple like that. 🙂

  2. I don’t know if it’s having been the victim of identity theft – 3 times – that makes me extra diligent about this kind of thing but I always update immediately.

    Like Jake, there was a time (not recently) when an update did not play nicely with a plugin. It was a bit of a pain to get it fixed. Oh, and I just remembered there was also an issue with Thesis 1 that required a band-aid fix until they could update the version.

    What’s more frustrating to me are the owners of plugins who rush out upgrades before fully testing and then send you 2nd, 3rd & 4th upgrades that are “guaranteed” 100% compatible. 😉

    • Oh wow, Cathy. I’m so sorry that you had to deal with something like that. And 3 times??? Yikes! I’m glad you got through it.

      Thesis is a nightmare all its own. So what you really need is a new theme. 😉

      And that’s exactly what I meant. It annoys the hell out of me that I have to run extra backups and do extra testing as a result. I feel like I have to babysit my blog for a week or two, constantly checking for more bug reports, reverting to older versions, etc. Who has time for that? But unfortunately it’s a popular plugin and that’s become pretty integral to most of my blogs. (So yeah, I have to go through that on nearly all of my WP installations, which is a lot.)


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