Maintenance is one of the most important aspects of running a WordPress web site. It’s important that you keep your web site, themes and plugins up to date as new vulnerabilities are found all the time. Running older software leaves you at a higher risk of exposure to hacks and bugs that are widely documented and actively in use around the world. While keeping up with the latest software does provide you an advantage over hacks against your WordPress site, it does leave open the possibility that one of the updates will go bad, and affect other portions of your web site. This could result in unintentional down time, or loss of sales due to non-functioning plugins. 

Therefore you need a solid plan when it comes to making upgrades to your site. Some of the questions you should ask yourself before starting an upgrade are:

  • Why do I need to update this plugin or theme?
  • If it’s a WordPress core update, will if affect my other plugins?
  • Do I have a backup?
  • If the upgrade goes wrong, do I have a recovery plan?
As you can see there are a lot of things to consider. Let’s break these questions down into more detail.

Why do I need to update this plugin or theme?

Each time you go to upgrade a WordPress plugin or theme there is a ‘Change Log’ associated with the change. This change log tells you what has changed in the new version of various WordPress Plugins. For example, the change log for Gantry 5.4.4 looks like this:
WordPress Change LogAs you can see there are no Security related updates in this version. If you were not using their RokSproket or RokGallery module, or didn’t use Javascript in the footer, then there might not be a reason to update the plugin at this time. This would be an example of a time it might be considered ‘okay’ to skip the update.

If it’s a core update, will if affect my other plugins?

Sometimes you see that the entire WordPress platform has an update. Just like the plugins and themes, WordPress puts out a change log if what is new in the new version. You should review the change log to see what is updated in the new version.
WordPress Change Log
Part of the WordPress change log.

As you will see there are usually security updates that go with these WordPress core updates. Since WP is one of the most popular platforms in use, it is natural for people to want to hack the software. If hackers find something that works they can then inflict damage on a large number of sites, since a large number of sites run WordPress.

However you should ask yourself two more questions.

Do I have a Backup? Do I have a Recovery Plan?

If you don’t have a backup then you run the risk of losing your entire site during an upgrade. Just as you would backup drives on your Windows machines, having a backup plan is vital. This is something that in a business could results in lost sales or productivity. In rare cases it could lead to the entire business going under due to the inability of customers or employees to get things done.

Having a backup, then, is crucial to your small business or home business. However, if you have not tested your recovery plan then you still don’t have a backup. Why? An untested recovery plan is as good as not having a backup. Just as you are taking a chance the upgrade will work flawlessly, you are betting that the recovery will go okay as well.

There are many backup plans available out there. Some are free backup plans, and others are paid backup software. Make sure you do your research on these plans to make sure they fit your needs and your budget. You should learn as much about the backup software as possible and make sure that you are able to do a recovery from it.

Let Us Help You

With maintenance plans from Synchronized Consulting, we take care of this work for you. We can update your plugins or themes and keep copies of your web site for safe keeping just in case you need to have your website recovered. It’s not even necessary to host your web site with us, just be able to install plugins on your WordPress site, so that we can do the work for you.

To learn more about the services we offer visit our WordPress Maintenance Services page.