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Why it is Important to Keep WordPress Up to Date

There are over 1 billion websites that make up the internet and around 35% of them are powered by WordPress. The popularity of WordPress makes it a perfect choice for hackers around the world that are crawling the internet looking for out of date WordPress sites.  They use automated scripts to gain access to your site with the intention of stealing your customers’ information, installing malware, or even worse, turn it into porn.  The end result is a damaged reputation for your business and lost customers.

What are WordPress versions?

WordPress is open source, which means the source code is available to anyone that wants it.  This allows allows thousands of independent software developers around the world to see the source code, suggest changes to it, file bug reports, and most importantly, notice any security holes.  They report bugs, issues to the WordPress ‘core’ team who then plans the resolution, develops patches or updates, and creates a new WordPress release to address them.  A list of WordPress version release dates can be found here.

From the very first update in May 2003, WordPress has been announcing updates and change logs (the changes made in this release) on their website. Typically, 3 or 4 times a year, a major upgrade is released that contains new functionality, performance enhancements, and bug fixes to name a few.  These are scheduled releases and the release date is known in advance.  In addition, multiple minor releases are published.  Often times a minor version can indicate that a security flaw was found and fixed, thus requiring an update of your site as soon as possible.

Security Fixes

Security fixes are released as soon as they are found and fixed. Keeping your site up to date is your responsibility. Having notifications turned on will let you know when you need to take action.

Turn on Notifications

Turning on notifications and applying WordPress updates are your responsibility. The sooner you do them the less likely your site will get hacked or be difficult to upgrade.

New Features

WordPress constantly is adding new features, bug fixes, performance enhancements, and more. Staying up to date lets you leverage these new updates.

Why Should I Upgrade My WordPress site?

The same way you keep your mobile apps updated, your WordPress website also needs timely updates to remain functional without any glitches. According to WordPress, only 36% of users have the most recent version installed, while the rest of the owners may probably not aware of its importance or have not made the time to do the updates.
Periodically, your website automatically checks with the WordPress release servers to see if a new version is available.  When a new version is released, it will send you notification to let you know it is available.   It is important for you, as the website owner, to make sure these notifications are turned on so you can apply the update as soon as possible.
For example, if a security issue has been resolved in the latest version, but you have not upgraded yet, your website becomes vulnerable to  hackers.  Due to the same open source nature that allows developers to notice security flaws, it allows hackers to see these flaws as well.  Since the security flaw is now known, and the hackers have the source code to see what it as.  They can easily develop ways to exploit the flaw.  They crawl the internet looking for web sites that are not running the latest versions, and can hack your site in no time

What Happens if I do not Upgrade my site?

Creating relationships with your customers, and fulfilling their needs is the top priority for any small business.  Not everyone has time, or more importantly the desire, to research and update their WordPress site on time.  It requires that your pause what you are doing and apply the update, and test to make sure nothing is broken.  If something is broken, then that problem needs to be researched and fixed too.  Unfortunately, all of this needs to be done in a timely manner.   That’s where WPFix comes in!  Our engineers can update your WordPress version and do some testing to make sure it is working properly.

The longer you wait, the higher chance of one or more of the following things can happen:

  • Your website gets hacked, and attempts to install malware on your customers’ computer.
  • Even worse, your site is hacked to becomes a porn site.
  • Increased chances of something breaking when finally apply the update(s).
  • A theme or plugin changes or becomes difficult to update.
  • Increased complexity and time required to troubleshoot problems during the update.
  • Potential negative impact on Search Engine ranking.
  • Loss of business or customer data. 
Any one of these things could cost you customers and increase the time and expense of updating your site.

Auto Updates for Plugins and Themes.  What are the Pros & Cons?

Plugins are can also contain security flaws that allow hackers to gain access to your site.  In this case, it is the responsibility plugin author to update their code and create a new release.  If you go to the plugin or theme pages in the administrator section of WordPress you will be able to see which ones have an available update .  Plugins or themes with active development may create new releases fairly often.  Again, these updates need to be done as soon as possible and tested to make sure they work.

WordPress has a feature to allow plugins to be automatically updated, which is recommended, for simple plugins that are not updated often.  This is a nice feature that prevents you from constantly checking to see if you have updates that need to be installed.  Most of the time auto updates go smoothly will not create a problem.  The down side here, is you still need to do some basic testing.  Making sure that the email system of your website is properly configured is critical here.  Notifications, will be sent when these automatic updates happen.  More complex plugins, like WooCommerce, should be done manually to make sure everything is goes smoothly.  WPFix can help you resolve any problems that occur durring this process, or help get your emil configuration properly setup.

Why Upgrade to WordPress 5?

The most current version of WordPress 5.x. If your website is running on 4 or less versions then you should consider upgrading to version 5 as soon as you can.  Unless you have had custom programming done to your website, most of your plugins and themes will be compatible.  Before doing an upgrade to version 5 a full backup should be before doing so.  Once everything has been updated, more thorough testing will be need to make sure everything is working properly.  These upgrades are more complex than updating a plugin or theme.  Again, the longer you wait the more difficult, and expensive, this upgrade becomes.  

WPFix can help!

WPFix can help you work through the upgrade process and troubleshoot any problems that occur.  Contact us to utilize our professional upgrade service.  Our process includes doing a full backup, setting up your site in a development environment, upgrading contents, and plugins.  We make sure that thorough testing is conducted to make sure your website is functioning appropriately.   Finally, we will collaborate and create a transition plan for deployment of the new site.