A Rational Approach to Updating Your WordPress Install

WPShout

The ability to update WordPress core, themes and plugins from within the Dashboard is quite amazing. It has taken a process that was at one time tedious and made it incredibly simple. Anyone can do it. All it takes is a few clicks and you’re running the latest versions of everything.

When you think long and hard about this, however, it may make you break into a cold sweat. That’s because, as great as this feature is, there are no guarantees of functional harmony. Applying an update could, in some instances, break your website – or at least cause a buggy nuisance or two.

To be sure, there’s some risk involved. This is harrowing enough if you maintain a single WordPress website. But for those of us who are responsible for multiple client websites, the pressure can really add up.

So, how do you deal with it? Take a deep breath and think ahead. Create a solid plan and processes to carry it out. Let’s take a look at some techniques to mitigate risk and give you some peace of mind.

1. Prepare for the Unknown

If you’ve ever logged into your website, saw that there were updates available and applied them without a second thought, you’re not alone. This is how a lot of WordPress site administrators (both hobbyist and professional) get things done. Bonus points for each time you’ve applied updates this way with no negative effects.

But what if something had gone wrong? What would you do?

A worst-case scenario involves hurriedly trying to piece a broken website back together (Hint: it’s not fun). To avoid this, it takes preparation.

Thankfully, it’s really not that difficult. Here are the very first lines of defense in avoiding an update disaster. Even better is that, after the initial set up, each of these solutions can be automated to a degree. This saves you time while also providing much-needed protection.

Keep Website Backups

One of the easiest ways to guard against the consequences of an update-gone-wrong is to have a set of recent site backups available. This will allow you to roll back to a working configuration. From there, you can go on to fix any issues in the background (more on that below).

Web hosts typically run daily backups or will at least provide you with a method for doing so. While this is a great feature, there is also a real benefit to having offsite backups as well.

This can protect you in the event of a server outage and enable you to reach your site’s files and database. It’s a lifesaver should you ever need to quickly move your website to another server. No, it’s not exclusively related to software updates, but important all the same.

You can take the extra step of keeping offsite backups through the use of a plugin or via an all-in-one site management dashboard such as ManageWP, InfiniteWP or even Jetpack. They can put a copy of your website on a cloud service (Amazon S3, Dropbox, etc.),

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This article was written by Eric Karkovack and originally published on WPShout.

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