December 22, 2016

Here's The Skinny On WordPress Updates - Read This BEFORE You Click That Button!

Published: 22 December 2016 

You are informed that once again, WordPress requires you to get the latest update. Many sites and guides on the web will tell you that you should jump in on these updates.

So why does WordPress insistently release these new updates, and what are the things that could go wrong in the process?


Why you should install new updates

One of the main reasons WordPress releases regular updates is to protect users from hacking. Keeping your WordPress up-to-date ensures you are up-to-date with the latest security features. Like any other program,

Additionally, updating your WordPress enables you to access new features and improvements, with less bugs and a smoother running site.

Even with this in mind, many people are quite hesitant to update their WordPress site, and they have every reason to be cautious. Issues can arise from getting new updates and it’s good to be aware of what can go wrong and how to prevent or fix these issues.

 The White Screen of Death


If your WordPress site is displaying a blank white screen after an update, then you are experiencing what is called the White Screen of Death. This could be caused by plugins which are not compatible with the new version of WordPress. If you suspect that plugins are causing the issue, you can go back and deactivate them, then reactivate them one by one until you find the culprit.

If you experience the white screen after activating a new theme on WordPress, chances are the theme is not compatible with the new update. To amend this, log into the WordPress admin theme screen and activate the default theme.

The theme files have been overwritten

Another issue updating can cause is overwriting your WordPress theme, meaning any customisations you have made have been changed.

This issue can be amended by using child themes. Many WordPress users neglect to use child themes, however they can ultimately save you a lot of future headache. Using child themes allow you to perform adjustments without affecting the original theme’s code, which allows you to easily update the parent theme without losing the changes (especially when it comes time to update). Not only does it make updating a whole lot easier, it ensures that your original theme will never be ruined, and the child theme can always be switched off as needed.

Last considerations

Now that you know which precautions to take, it’s time to put those updates into action!

Before you go to update, ensure you have completed the following steps:

1.) Backup everything!


It is extremely important to ensure that there are duplicates of all your files in case something goes wrong, and there are several methods available. UpdraftPlus is a free WordPress plugin which allows you to perform backups.

2.) Preserve theme modifications

If you have used a child theme, you can be assured that your theme modifications will be preserved even after updating. However if you have made changes directly to the main theme files, you must save those changes before updating.

3.) Update themes and plugins first

A new version of WordPress could contain changes which alter functionality in existing themes and plugins. In this event it pays to update your themes and plugins before WordPress. This can prevent the occurrence of incompatibility and the white screen of death. Perform each update one at a time and test them on your site. This will make it easier for you to find the incompatibility.

4.) Schedule non-security updates for times of low traffic

Security fixes should be performed as soon as possible, however updates containing a minor bug or feature enhancement can usually be postponed at a lower traffic period. Holding off on performing these non-critical updates mean can allow bugs to be ironed by the time you’re ready for the next update.

5.) Reassess your current plugin choices

When new updates come around, it’s a perfect time to have re-evaluate your current themes and plugins. Over time, once-useful plugins become unnecessary for most users as they are incorporated into WordPress core. After two years, users are informed of potential support and compatibility issues.

Time to update

The last step remaining is to update! Keep all of these steps and considerations in mind and make your WordPress journey smooth and problem free.

Ben Maden

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