WordPress, is a leading content management system (CMS) boasting 35% of the web. WordPress is safe for business use if the website is kept up-to-date and regularly maintained. WordPress is open-source and developed by a vast community of coders which makes it vulnerable to attack. It is essential to regularly run security check for vulnerabilities and keep the website maintained, just like a house needs to be kept up to date. Failure to frequently update the core files, themes, and plugins of WordPress can drastically increase the risk of attacks. Updating your PHP should also be a priority to ensure the website is secure.
Safely Update WordPress
It is essential to be aware that no changes should be made directly to the active website. Test all website updates in a staging environment before pushing them live. This will guarantee that all changes work correctly and any issues are identified and resolved.
Why do I have to update my plugins and how often should I do it?
Staying up to date with your website is essential to ensure its proper functioning, security and to take advantage of any new features and improvements. Hackers are always on the lookout for sites that are not up-to-date, so it is important to take the necessary next 5 steps to keep your WordPress site secure. Conducting your updates on a weekly basis is probably going to offer the best security. However, every second week is not too bad. There’s a higher risk level of increased site vulnerability waiting any longer than that to conduct your WordPress updates.
Learn about the 4 critical WordPress updates aimed at keeping your site vulnerability-free and running smoothly with the latest versions.
1. PHP Updates
It is essential to ensure that the PHP version of your website’s server is up to date. PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) is a widely used server-side coding language and is employed by many platforms, including WordPress. The PHP version is supported for two years and any bug fixes or security patches are available in this time frame. However, after three years, support is no longer provided. To update your website’s PHP, you will need to contact your hosting company and they can advise on the current version, as well as help you with the update if necessary.
2. WordPress Core Updates
WordPress core updates are essential in order to take advantage of the latest features and bug fixes. Major upgrades typically occur two or three times a year, while minor releases are released as necessary. Your hosting provider may offer automatic WordPress core updates, making the process easier and simpler for you. However, for added security, a WordPress backup is recommended before updating the WordPress core file to create a restore point. If your hosting provider does not take care of the updates automatically, you will receive a message in the back-end of your web page that a fresh version is available. When performing the update, be attentive. Minor changes should not bring about any problems, yet larger updates may indicate the addition of new features or the removal of existing ones. Although the WP development staff puts in a lot of work to guarantee that updates are compatible with prior versions, it is necessary to validate everything before launching to be safe. It is essential to recognise that certain components of your website may be deprecated, and the plugin you are utilising may not be harmonious with the most recent version of WordPress. To avert any potential problems, be vigilant to keep your site operating at its best. It is essential to regularly update the security of a WordPress site in order to ensure it is adequately protected against malicious threats. Failing to do so leaves the platform exposed and vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
3. Update Themes
When the WordPress core is upgraded, it is essential that active theme is also updated. A WordPress theme provides the fundamental design of your website. From time to time, the theme developers may release improvements to the theme to increase its effectiveness. For this reason, it is important to set up a child theme, which is based on the parent theme and contains all of its functions and styling. This allows you to easily update your theme. If you do not have a child theme, it becomes difficult to update your site, and by not doing so, you can make your website vulnerable to attack.
4. Update Plugins
It is critical to maintain regular updates to your plugins, as they may become outdated and cause security risks. This is similar to the maintenance required for themes and WordPress core, and should not be neglected. When selecting a plugin for your website, ensure that it has a large number of installations and has been updated recently. It is inadvisable to use a plugin that has not been updated for some time. You can review this information when you install the plugin from the WordPress backend or from the plugins directory. Are you familiar with the features of your website and confident in your ability to update them? If so, then updating your site regularly is something that you can easily do on your own.
Of course, the more complex your website, the longer the updates may take. If you do decide to do this yourself, you should first contact your hosting company to ensure that the PHP version is up-to-date. Additionally, WordPress core, theme, and plugin updates can be done through the back-end of your website. As I mentioned earlier, to ensure that your website remains functioning, it is important to test the updates in a staging environment first, before applying them to the live site.
If you’re not at all confident with conducting your WordPress updates, or have a busy schedule, ACT Websites’ Maintenance & Site Care Plans are designed to support your business with updates and more! See my plans for details.
Sandra Ciminelli – WordPress Web Designer/Developer