Why It’s Important to Update Your WordPress Blog

If your blog is built on the Genesis Framework (as all of my WordPress sites are!) then you probably noticed a little yellow bar at the top of your dashboard this week telling you that a new version was available.  I was going to push out a reminder to all my clients to make sure that they updated, but I decided to go a little further than that.

updates

I am admittedly not an expert on the hosting side of websites (other than what my friend Aaron at RFE Hosting tells me!)  I know that it’s important to install those updates, but I’ve never really fully understood why.  So I decided to look into it and share it with you guys!  Here’s what I found out:

  • Most updates are created to fix a problem that has been experienced in a previous version.  A lot of times it’s to correct a hole in security.
  • By not installing updates, you are leaving yourself vulnerable to hackers. (Who knew, right?)  Apparently hackers can easily figure out if your site is not up to date, and will then target your site.  I don’t think I need to tell you that you don’t want your site to be hacked.  That’s bad news.
  • Plugins are often a greater of security holes than themes or WordPress itself.  If you’re not using a plugin or it’s not essential to your site, you might consider disabling and deleting it.  It doesn’t hurt to do a little clean up now and then!

Unfortunately, installing updates can sometimes cause some problems on your site.  Although I would like to say that I’ve done, many, many updates and (other than the first problem below) I’ve never had any issues!  Here are some things to be aware of:

  • If you’ve edited the code of a theme or plugin that is being updated, your changes will be lost.  For people on Genesis, it’s completely fine to upgrade Genesis because the style of your blog is actually built on a child theme rather than Genesis itself.  Your child theme will never need to be updated.  However, sometimes things like galleries or sliders have to be edited on the plugin itself and then the styling on those things will be lost with the update.  If you have edited a default theme yourself, you might want to read this from WordPress before updating.
  • Plugins and themes don’t always play nice with each other.  When you have code written by a bunch of different people, not necessarily intended for use on the same site, sometimes code will conflict and errors will occur.  If something weird starts happening after an update, start by disabling your plugins individually so that you can tell what’s causing the problem.  The bad news is that a lot of times the easiest solution is to get rid of the plugin causing the issue.  The good news is that there are usually many plugins that do the same thing.

It’s important when you update your site to make sure that you back it up first just in case.  I use BackUpBuddy, but here is a great post on how to back up your blog for free.

Have any questions?  I’d love to talk about it in the comments and see if we can’t find the answer together!

Comments

  1. says

    Great info! I always hate updating and I have to admit I sometimes push it back longer than I should, but I’m proud to say when those new Genesis updates rolled out, I updated right away! Well at least on my blog I did. Now I’m trying to go through all the other sites I manage and get them up to date!

    • Kate says

      Nice! I feel like they’re always coming out with new ones so it’s hard to keep up- but I think that now that I know why it’s important I’ll try to be better about it!

  2. says

    I edit a lot of my theme (twentyten), so when I install a new version, it re-writes itself. I always keep a copy of my stylesheet in a notepad and saved on my computer so I can copy & paste. Child themes were too confusing for me!

    And it terms of the plug-ins, I can’t tell you how many times (ok, well I can- 3) a plug-in has caused a random issue. The trouble is finding out WHICH plug-in it is!

    • Kate says

      Yeah, when clients come to me because their blog is doing something weird, it’s almost always because of a plugin. I usually just go through them one at a time and deactivate them- that usually helps me identify the trouble maker! :)

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