Here's how to safely update WordPress plugins to maintain the security and functionality of your website. Keeping your WordPress plugins updated is crucial for maintaining the security and functionality of your website. Outdated plugins can pose vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit, leading to potential security issues. Additionally, updating plugins ensures that you have access to the latest features and improvements. However, updating plugins without a proper plan can sometimes result in compatibility issues or broken functionality. 

Never set up automatic plugin updates! Automatic updates can cause conflicts and make your site go down. The best way is to follow a safe and systematic approach when updating WordPress plugins.

safely update wordpress plugins

Before you start

If your WordPress core file needs to be updated, if there are major updates, or if you have a large number of plugins that have to be updated, use a staging site to do your updates. When you are updating plugins or the WordPress core, your site goes into maintenance mode. If you use a staging site, you can do all of your updates, break your site, fix it again, and then push it to live without any costly downtime.

Preparing for Plugin Updates

Backup your WordPress site

Before making any updates, it is vital to create a full backup of your WordPress site. This backup will serve as a safety net in case anything goes wrong during the update process. There are several methods to back up your site, including using backup plugins or manually exporting your site’s database and files. Make sure to store the backup in a secure location, such as an external storage device or a cloud service.

Review plugin compatibility

Before updating any plugins, it is crucial to check their compatibility with your current WordPress version. Plugin developers regularly release updates to ensure compatibility with the latest WordPress releases. To verify compatibility, you can visit the WordPress plugin repository or the official website of the plugin developer. Look for information regarding the supported WordPress versions and any known compatibility issues. Proceed with the update only if the plugin is fully compatible with your WordPress version.

The Update Process

Update one plugin at a time

To minimize potential conflicts or issues, update one plugin at a time. By doing so, you can easily identify if a specific plugin update causes any problems on your site. After updating a plugin, test your website’s functionality thoroughly before proceeding to the next update. This approach allows you to isolate and troubleshoot any issues effectively.

Disable caching and optimization plugins

Caching and optimization plugins can sometimes interfere with the update process or cause conflicts with updated plugins. Therefore, it is recommended to temporarily disable these plugins before initiating any updates. By disabling caching and optimization plugins, you can prevent unexpected behavior or errors during the update process. Once the updates are complete, you can reactivate these plugins and configure their settings accordingly.

Safely update WordPress plugins

To update your WordPress plugins, navigate to the plugin update section within the WordPress dashboard. WordPress provides an automatic update feature that allows you to update plugins with a single click, but this is not the way to do safe updates. By manually updating, you have complete control. Update each plugin one by one.

Check to see if an updated plugin has affected your site

After updating a plugin, thoroughly test your website’s functionality. Check various aspects of your site, including forms, navigation menus, page loading speed, and any specific functionality associated with the updated plugin. By doing so, you can ensure that the update has not caused any issues or conflicts with other elements of your website. If any problems arise, refer to the troubleshooting section for guidance.

Troubleshooting Potential Issues

Identify conflicts or errors

Sometimes, after a plugin update, you may notice conflicts or errors on your website. These can manifest as broken layouts, functionality issues, or error messages. If you encounter any such issues, it is essential to identify the conflicting plugin. Start by deactivating all recently updated plugins and then reactivating them one by one, testing your site’s functionality after each activation. This process will help pinpoint the specific plugin causing the conflict, allowing you to take appropriate action.

Roll back to a previous version

In case you encounter severe issues or conflicts that cannot be resolved, it may be necessary to roll back to a previous version of the problematic plugin. If you had a backup of your site before the update, you can restore it to its previous state by utilizing the backup files. Alternatively, you can visit the WordPress plugin repository or the plugin developer’s website to find and download previous versions of the plugin. Carefully follow the instructions provided to install the desired version and restore functionality to your site. If you are unable to resolve the issue or require further assistance, consider reaching out to the plugin developer’s support team for guidance and troubleshooting.

Final Steps

Enable caching and optimization plugins

Once you have successfully updated all your plugins and ensured that your website is functioning properly, it is time to re-enable your caching and optimization plugins. These plugins help improve the speed and performance of your site, so it is essential to reactivate them after completing the update process. Before enabling them, take a moment to review their settings and configurations to ensure they are optimized for your updated plugins and site structure.

Regularly update plugins

To maintain a secure and smoothly functioning WordPress site, establish a habit of regularly updating your plugins. Set a schedule to check for plugin updates on a consistent basis. WordPress provides notifications within the dashboard when updates are available, making it easier to stay informed. Follow the safe update process outlined in this guide for each plugin update, ensuring that you back up your site, check compatibility, update one plugin at a time, and test functionality afterward. By prioritizing regular updates, you can mitigate potential security risks and benefit from the latest features and improvements offered by plugin developers.

Updating WordPress plugins is a fundamental aspect of website maintenance, ensuring security, compatibility, and optimal performance. By following the step-by-step guide outlined in this post, you can safely perform your WordPress plugin updates without encountering major issues. Remember to always back up your site, review plugin compatibility, update one plugin at a time, and thoroughly test your website’s functionality after each update. In the event of conflicts or errors, employ troubleshooting techniques, and consider rolling back to a previous version if necessary. By adopting these best practices, you can keep your WordPress site secure, up-to-date, and running smoothly.

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  1. Updating only one plugin at a time is so important! When I was a new blogger I made the mistake of hitting “update all” and the entire site crashed lol this is great info!

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