Updating WordPress is something that every site owner has to do, at least for WordPress’ security updates. Automating updates seems like the easy way out, but how do you know if your WordPress site is compatible with, and needs any other updates?
Every new WordPress site owner faces a conundrum when it comes to updating their WordPress site. Even if you only have to click on ‘update’ to update the sites, there are so many updates happening so frequently that simply updating might seem like a gargantuan task. This is why automating the process might seem like an easier route to take.
What Does it Mean to ‘automate’ WordPress Updates?
Ever since version 3.7, WordPress has allowed security and translation updates to happen in the background of every default installation, but this doesn’t include major and add-on updates… Which means a huge chunk of updates are still not performed. This is why choosing to perform automated updates on your WordPress site is a tempting choice. Moreover, it’s an option that can be carried out in a number of ways. It means every update on your site would happen automatically. You wouldn’t be shown notifications, wouldn’t need to click on ‘update’ everywhere, and you can stay at peace.
Making this decision isn’t as easy as it sounds though, simple because of the consequences it might have on your site. This is why we’re going to break it down for you.
The Pros of Automating WordPress Updates
It reduces your workload
Automating updates for both WordPress Core and add-ons on your WordPress site isn’t recommended, since any of these updates could contain changes that might cause your site to crash. But even just automating WordPress’ major core updates would reduce the amount of work for you as a WordPress site owner, since you would only have to worry about the add-ons.
It makes your WordPress site better in every way
WordPress updates allow the addition of new features and security patches for known vulnerabilities, thus making WordPress sites more functional, and secure. Automating your site to update, therefore, would help your site be more functional for your site’s visitors and users, as well as more secure for everyone.
The Cons of Automating WordPress Updates
There are a number of downsides to automating updates on your WordPress site, but the extent to which this might affect your site negatively, depends on what you choose to update, and how you choose to do it.
Your WordPress site could crash
Depending on the functions, and the scale of the changes in the updates made (whether to WordPress Core or to add-ons), your WordPress site could crash.
If you automate WordPress Core updates, there is a possibility of the old add-ons on your site not being compatible with the Core changes. As a result, your site could crash.
Automating add-ons is not recommended. This is because there are thousands of different plugins and themes, and although they’re coded to be compatible with WordPress, they’re not all coded with each other in mind. This means your site could crash with the update of any one plugin or theme.
The aftermath of WordPress crashing takes time to fix
If you choose to configure your WordPress site to automatically update via code, and not a plugin or a service, you’ll have to make changes to your site’s wp-config file. This can be daunting, and can take time for a novice.
Moreover, no matter why your WordPress site crashes, you will have to restore it to a recent backup, and figure out which update caused your site to crash… which again will take time.
Automated updates with Managed WordPress Services have consequences too
Using managed WordPress services (those that update your WordPress site for you as a part of maintenance or hosting services) might seem like an easy option, but it also has a number of consequences.
- If you have chosen to enable automatic updates with a managed WordPress service, they will email you with the update schedule. In this case, you will have to check all the elements on your site for compatibility before approving the update.
- If an element on your WordPress site is not compatible with an update, you will have to ask your WordPress manager to postpone the update until you fix the issue.
- It is added trouble for you as a WordPress site owner, if you can not fix the issue causing incompatibilities by the time managed WordPress services force updates on your site. This would mean that your site would break, and you would have to restore it to a previous backup that is recent enough. If you own an e-commerce WordPress site, this isn’t an option, because of the constant input of data on your site.
Deciding to automate the updates to be made to your WordPress site isn’t an easy decision, especially if you don’t know your WordPress site inside-out. However, it’s something that every WordPress site owner has to do, a least for WordPress’ security updates. Learning whether your WordPress site needs any other updates to be updated is a time-taking experiment, but it’s one that will pay off in the end. The only way to make sure that your site is safe, is to rely on an intelligent, secure backup solution to create backups before you perform any update or make any changes to your WordPress site.