This week, I wanted to talk about updating your WordPress install. I’m sure most of you have seen the notice at the top of the Dashboard ‘WordPress 3.0.1 is available. Please update now.’ – it’s very tempting to just click, and go ahead, but there are a few things to think about first, and a few steps to take.
Things to consider:
First, you want to consider whether or not you should update. If this is a major update (ie 2.9 to 3.0), there can be bugs in the new version that haven’t been worked out yet. This can be true of regular updates as well, so consider this first. We haven’t had many problems with WordPress updates in general, but better safe than sorry. We’d normally recommend waiting a week or two so hopefully all the kinks can be worked out before you update. You may even want to do some research about problems other people may be having with the update before going ahead
Second, what plugins are you using? Sometimes updates to WordPress can cause issues with your plugins. You may want to update these at the same time, but for some older plugins, it is possible that they are no longer supported, and they may not work with the newest version. If so, you’ll want to decide how important that plugin is to your site, can you change to a newer one, or are you better staying with the version you have for now?
Third, what happens if you run into problems with the upgrade? The last time I had an issue with an upgrade, it was one I started at the end of the day on a Friday, and it took me a lot longer than I’d anticipated because of the problems I ran into. Be sure you have some support to fall back on if you run into these problems. We suggest making any updates during office hours so you can reach us without using emergency overtime hours. As well, be prepared for your site to be down for an hour or two (just in case). This very rarely happens, but doing an update immediately before an important event or a press release inviting visitors to the site can spell disaster. In these cases, you are likely best to wait until a less critical time to do the upgrades.
If after going through each of these it is the right time to upgrade, you want to make sure you can go backwards if you need to.
- Download a copy of your website files. We suggest downloading a copy of the entire site, but getting a copy of the /wp-content folder is critical. Ensure all your files have been backed up before beginning. Any good host will have regular backups of the website, but they can take a bit of time to retrieve and there is often a cost associated, so this ensures you have a copy at hand.
- Download a copy of your website database. You should be able to do that via your hosting control panel, or you can look at some of the tools available for WordPress to do this in one click.
- You can run the automatic upgrade tool from the dashboard, but be sure you have your ftp information on hand. This option normally runs more quickly than doing a manual upgrade, and if you’ve taken the steps above you can get back to the old version if needed.
- Have a look at your plugins and decide if you’d like to update any of these at the same time.
Once you’ve run the upgrade, you’ll want to go through and carefully test your entire website. Ensure any email forms you have are sending emails as they should, and that all your plugins are working properly.
If you have any problems with the upgrade you’ll have all the backups you need to restore the site as it was before the update (by re-uploading the backup you’ve taken, and re-importing the database). AWEBthatWORKS is always happy to help with upgrade issues as well – 1-800-579-9253.
Preparing for your upgrade, and taking the steps slowly and carefully will ensure that if there are any problems with the upgrade you can fix it quickly, with minimal impact on your visitors.