Written by Lourens Tredoux
As I explained in this blog post about securing a WordPress website, it is extremely important to keep your WordPress website up to date for security and stability reasons, but many people feel intimidated by the thought of updating their WordPress website by themselves, opting rather to pay a web developer to do this.
There is no reason to feel intimidated by this, though. WordPress is such a mature platform these days that the update process is simple and easy to do.
Step 1 – Make a website backup
Because updates can sometimes break your website due to incompatibilities between different versions of WordPress and its plugins, it is important to make a backup before starting the update process.
First, you need to log in to your WordPress back-end, or the Admin area as it’s also called. Usually this is done by opening your web browser and going to http://yourdomainhere.co.za/wp-admin (obviously replacing the “yourdomainhere.co.za” with your actual website domain). Enter the username and password (get it from your web developer if you don’t have it) and you will see the WordPress Admin Dashboard.
Now go to “Plugins” on the left and select “Add New”.
The next step is to search for “backup” in the search box. You can then choose the backup plugin of your choice, install it and proceed to activate it by clicking the “Activate” button.
You will now see your Backup plugin listed on the left hand side of the screen. Select it and make a backup of your site. The exact steps required to do this will depend on the plugin you have chosen, but they are generally very user friendly and easy to use.
Step 2 – Update WordPress
Now that your website is backed up, you are ready to start the update process.
In the top left-hand corner you will see the “Updates” option:
As you can see by the number in the orange circle, there are 24 updates available. This update is long overdue.
Click on “Updates”. This will take you to a screen with all of the available updates listed and grouped in order.
The first update to run is WordPress itself. As you can see in the screenshot above, it says “An updated version of WordPress is available”, with a convenient “Update Now” button just below it. Updating WordPress is as simple as clicking on the Update Now button.
Step 3 – Update the Plugins
After you get the message that WordPress has updated successfully, go back to the Updates screen. The next order of business is to update the plugins.
You will see a list of all plugins that have updates available:
You can either manually select each plugin that you want to update, or you can tick the box next to “Select All”. Then click on the “Update Plugins” button.
Step 4 – Update the Themes
The last step is updating the WordPress themes. This may seem unimportant, especially updating the themes that you don’t use, but any outdated code could be a potential security problem, whether it’s activated or not.
Go back to the “Updates” screen and go down to the list of themes that require updates.
As with the plugins, you can either manually select only the themes you wish to update, or you can tick the “Select All” box. Then click on “Update Themes” to start the process.
Though these steps are usually all that are required to update WordPress, there could be some exceptions. Most of the time these have to do with paid plugins or premium themes that have to be purchased and registered in order to update them. If you followed these steps and there are still a few features that haven’t been updated, it’s usually a good idea to contact the developer of the plugin or theme to find out how to update.
That is how simple it is to keep your WordPress website up to date. If you feel that it is still too daunting a task for you to do alone, please look at our Website Maintenance Services to see how we can help you to update your WordPress website!