Why is it important to use the latest version of WordPress?

Dave Abargel,

Every time a new WordPress version is released we receive emails from many of our customers asking
if it is safe to update their WordPress website. Do you ever wonder why you should update it?

What are the pros and cons of updating your website?
In this article we explore the importance of updating your site to the latest available version of WordPress.

Time To Update - WordPress

WordPress is a Free Content Management System developed by a community of programmers.
With every new version released, WordPress fixes bugs, adds new features, improves performance and increases existing feature capabilities to stay up-to-date with technology standards.
In other words, if you do not update your WordPress site, you are endangering the security of your site, as well as potentially missing new features and important updates.
Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of the WordPress feed.

1. Security

Security is probably the most important reason why you should keep your WordPress site up-to-date. In todays’ Internet market, approximately 23% of the world-wide websites are based on WordPress.
Due to its international popularity WordPress is a popular target for hackers, malicious code distributors, thieves, etc.

CMS MarketShare

Because WordPress is an open source, anyone can learn and improve it. This also means hackers learn the system and look for and find ways to hack into websites.
The positive side of this scenario is that not all hackers are evil. In fact, there are more good hackers than bad hackers.
Security experts around the world can learn the code, report bugs and even fix safety features.

When a Security Report is published announcing potential weaknesses, the WordPress Core Team works diligently to release a revised and updated version.
If you continue to use an out-of-date version of WordPress, you are unprotected from security risks and vulnerable to attack. Believe it or not, hackers track and locate sites that are running on older, not up-to-date versions of  WordPress.
If that is your situation you can easily become a victim of a sophisticated cyber attack.

This not only applies to WordPress but also to Plugins that hackers can penetrate. It is imperative. You really need to ensure your website is running on the most updated version of WordPress, Plugins and Templates.

2. New features

Every major release of the new up-to-date WordPress version comes with new features and changes to the software.
For example, WordPress 4.0 came with an enhanced plug-in experience, 4.1 introduced on-line Image Editing and 4.2 came with faster plug-in updates.

WordPress New Feature
If you are using an older WordPress version, then your WordPress experience will be very different from someone who has the latest one.

Please take into consideration that you may find it difficult to properly access WordPress Online Help because you are using an older version. Take into account that WordPress Support Groups assume that you are using the latest version available.

3. Improving performance

WordPress developers are constantly trying to make their site performance faster. Each new version comes with a number of performance improvements that actually make WordPress work faster and more efficiently.

For example, WordPress 4.2 improved JavaScript performance for Navigation Menus, while WordPress 4.1 improved Complex Queries that helped perform sites that used the same queries. Since speed is a crucial factor in SEO, we strongly recommend keeping your WordPress website updated to ensure maximum performance.

4. Bug fixes

Despite the meticulous testing of all versions of WordPress before it is released, there may be small ‘bugs’ that managed to evade testing.
For this reason, we make sure that “smaller” releases of WordPress versions (which receive a version number in X.X.X format) are kept in an attempt to overcome them too.
For example, WordPress version 4.2.3 included fixes to 20 bugs found in version 4.2.

It is important to know that when you ask for WordPress Support, they first advise you to update the version you are using.
That alone often solves immediate problem. If you insist on not updating WordPress, you usually can no longer continue to receive assistance.

 

5.  Adjust feed for extensions and templates

Quite often, Plug-in Developers and Topics coordinate their updates with WordPress version releases to ensure maximum utilization of the new features and improvements being introduced.
However, there are times when an update can “cut off” plugins that exist on your site if they do not fit best practices and coding standards. For this reason, it is very important to back up your WordPress site frequently –  especially before updating WordPress to the latest version.
The only downside to updating is – in a few rare cases, your site will undergo a slight ‘concussion’ that will require a few fixes. But the advantages of updating outweighs the downside. Updates will:

  • Enhance WordPress security

  • Give you new and useful WordPress features

  • Improve and speed-up your WordPress experience

  • Fix bugs to your WordPress site

  • Updated version is a better compatibility for templates and plugins

 

Now that you have a better understanding of the great importance of regularly updating your WordPress, lets take a look at the update process itself.

How to keep your WordPress site updated

Updating the site’s core, plugins and themes every time a new WordPress version is released is a fairly simple process,

For uPress Customers:
After logging in to the Admin Panel »Choose your site» WordPress Tab »Automatic Update to WordPress.
uPress - WordPress Auto Update

If you are not a uPress Customer, there are several different ways to do this:
WordPress comes with a built-in Messaging System. It highlights the number of updates available each time you log into your WordPress account.

WordPress Updates

All you have to do is enter the Control Panel »Updates and install the Updates. It is a one-click process. They may not even know about new releases released to the market.
Fortunately, they have several options: If you use WordPress 3.7 or higher, you will have an Automatic Update for small releases (safety fixes and bugs).

You can also turn on Automatic Updates for larger releases, extensions, and topics. Alternatively, you will receive an email informing you of a new update to your WordPress site.

Receive email notifications concerning WordPress updates

When you are busy operating your business, logging into your website to check for updates is probably the last thing you think about.
Wouldn’t it be easier if you could receive notification by email every time a new update came out? Well, that’s possible.
The first thing you need to do is install and run the WP Updates Notifier. After activation, go to “Updates Notifier” to configure the extension settings.

WordPress Notify settings

The plugin uses WordPress Cron to check updates to your site on an hourly basis.
When there is a new update, the plugin will send you an email. By default, the plugin checks for kernel updates, plugins and WordPress themes.
All you have to do is click on Save Setting with the test email button. If you do not receive a test email from the plugin, try writing in response to this article and the uPress team will try to help you.

Automatically install WordPress updates

You can easily automate the process. WordPress allows you to run automatic updates for major WordPress kernel releases, WordPress plugins and themes.
This option is risky if you do not use a Dedicated Managed Storage Server for WordPress sites. This dedicated server allows you to automatically update your site and monitor any mishaps.
If you have enabled Automatic Updates, please note that there is a slight risk the site will fall and you may not be able to access it immediately. However, there are two ways to enable Automatic Updates with an extension, or with a code.

Automatic updates with plugin

First of all, you need to install and run the Easy Updates Manager add-on. After activation, go to Control Panel » Updates to determine the plugin settings.

Easy Update Manager - Plugin

Now scroll down until you reach the Automatic Updates section. This is where you can turn on Automatic Updates to the core, extensions, themes and translation files. Once you have finished, Save the settings.

Automatic Updates using code (wp-config.php file)

You can enable Automatic Updates to WordPress kernel by adding the following line to your wp-config.php file.

define('WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE', true);

If you want to turn on Automatic Updates for your themes and plugins, you’ll need to add the lines you’ve brought to the functions.php file of your template, or to a specific extension of the site.

add_filter( 'auto_update_plugin', '__return_true' );
add_filter( 'auto_update_theme', '__return_true' );

We hope this article has helped you understand why you should always make sure your site is up-to-date with the latest version of WordPress. If at anytime you have questions or need a helping hand,  uPress offers  24/7 VIP Customer Service.

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Avatar
Dave Abargel

VP and founder of uPress, developer of Backend & Frontend, specializes in improving performance for WordPress websites, handling advanced security issues, and marketing on social networks. He is an active partner in a number of interesting projects in the field, such as WiPi, Enable, Greenicon, Speedom, and more.

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