How To Update WordPress Securely Every Time

by Holly Holloway on

WordPress is vital to keeping your site functional and protected, but updates can disrupt customizations or even break your site.

That’s why, in this post, we cover the five considerations you should remember when it concerns installing WordPress updates. Follow these and you’ll have the ability to upgrade every time without harming your website’s performance!

1. Back Up Your Site Frequently (and Before Updating Anything).

To prevent any worry of an update damaging your website, make certain to support your website before you set up any updates. You’re spoilt for choice with choices on this front.

If you’re trying to find possibly the quickest and simplest solution, our very first suggestion would be VaultPress. Developed by none besides the folks at Automattic, it’s a slick and full-featured premium remote backup solution that’s a cinch to setup and use.

Speaking of remote backup services, that’s the only type we recommend. There’s little point in backing up to your server if some type of deadly mistake ruins both your site and its backup( s). If you’re a Dropbox fan, check out our suggested suitable backup solutions.

There are lots of other solutions– both complimentary and premium– and we have actually included the most popular here. And in the interests of efficiency, if you feel the have to carry out a manual backup at any time, the WordPress Codex has you covered.

2. Use WP Safe Updates to Test Plugin Updates.

Because of the myriad combinations of developers, variation compatibilities, and quality assurance, plugins are often the source of update conflicts.

Developer Antti Kuosmanen has actually produced a new plugin called WP Safe Upgrades that lets you test plugin updates in a ‘sandbox’ environment. This allows you to spot potential update disputes prior to they have the opportunity to be a concern on your live website.

In practice, WP Safe Updates includes a brand-new Test Update button that appears when a plugin update is available. Clicking this button lets you preview any changes the plugin makes prior to committing to them. WP Safe Updates will show exactly how the updates will behave on your actual site when you do things like developing new posts or altering settings.

Please note that installing WP Safe Updates needs editing a small amount of your website’s code– instructions for which are available in the Installation section of the plugin’s Plugin Directory page.

While WP Safe Updates is a promising solution to a common WordPress updates aggravation, you must be aware that the plugin is still in its alpha variation. It may not be completely trustworthy in its functionality. That being stated, we do recommend WordPress Safe Updates to anyone worried about plugin updates disrupting their site’s functionality.

3. Utilize a Child Theme.

Perhaps WordPress’ biggest selling point is its customizability through plugins and styles. With terrific power comes excellent responsibility, and when making tweaks to your site’s design, you need to make sure that you do so properly.

It’s tempting to make customizations by editing your style’s PHP or CSS files straight, but you need to avoid doing so for two reasons:.

There’s a threat of getting the feared “white screen of death” due to one misplaced bracket or semicolon.
Changes you make to the initial theme files are impermanent (i.e. upgrading your site’s style will overwrite them).
To prevent both these issues, you should constantly utilize a child style to tailor any of your site’s code. Kid styles are easy to develop, and they allow you to experiment to your heart’s material.

4. Evaluation Style, Plugin, and Core Update Changelogs for Disputes.

Prior to you set up any update, we encourage that you read its changelog for prospective conflicts. Maintaining to speed with what’s new in the most recent version of any given theme, plugin, or core upgrade is useful in and of itself, however beyond that, you’re looking for any modifications that may interfere with your distinct setup and personalizations.

For instance, if you’re using custom CSS to customize the look of a plugin-generated contact kind, you should ensure the upgrade does not change any of the CSS IDs or classes that your custom code uses.

Where to find the changelog will depend on what you’re upgrading.

For plugins downloaded from, the changelog is one of the offered tabs on the plugin’s Plugin Directory site page.

For themes, you need to speak with the theme designer’s site. Default WordPress themes such as Twenty Sixteen have their changelog offered within the WordPress Codex. All quality themes– free or paid– need to consist of a changelog.

For updates to WordPress core, a complete changelog of every version to date is offered in the Codex.

Examining the changelog for prospective conflicts is key to making sure that any WordPress updates go efficiently.

5. Never Test Updates on a Live Site.

To guarantee the user experience isn’t really interrupted by an upgrade failed, you must never evaluate updates on a live site. Following this simple guideline will conserve you an awful lot of headaches in time.

There are several choices for testing WordPress updates beyond your live website. The one you choose will depend on your hosting option, your technical ability, and the magnitude of the update. Alternatives consist of:.

Create a WordPress staging site through your webhosting. The exact details will depend upon your hosting service provider, however managed hosting options such as WP Engine, FlyWheel, and Pressable all make this possible.
Test updates with a plugin such as WP Staging. If an upgrade breaks the test website, your live site will remain unscathed.
Test updates in a local advancement environment including a carbon copy of your site. For more information, check out our overviews of developing a local advancement environment on a Mac and in Windows.
Utilizing any of the above options will allow you to check updates and iron out the kinks before going live. A staging site is my personal option; to learn more, have a look at our guide to creating a WordPress staging website.


It’s something comprehending how essential updating WordPress is, however having the confidence to install updates without the fear of potential conflicts developing is something else completely. Luckily, with this article, you have the service.

Follow the simple guidelines below to ensure that WordPress updates on your live site( s) successfully each time:.

  • Back up your website frequently (and before updating).
  • Test plugin updates with WP Safe Updates.
  • Make all style customizations in a child style.
  • Evaluation update changelogs prior to using them.
  • Never check updates on a live website.

Written by: Holly Holloway