How Updating Plugins or CMS Can Impact Your Website

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When a new WordPress plugin or CMS update appears for your website, the immediate impulse might be to click the update button and move on. Numerous online sources emphasise the necessity of keeping your plugins and CMS current. While it’s undisputed that updates are vital for your website’s functionality and protection, the process of maintaining your website up to date is more nuanced than merely pressing the update button. In reality, certain updates might lead to complications with your website, or even the feared downtime. 

To circumvent significant problems and conserve time in the future, managing updates with care is essential. This might mean updating WordPress plugins individually or reverting the website to prior versions to pinpoint the origin of an issue. Feeling overwhelmed? Below, we dissect why WordPress plugins require updating, what could potentially go wrong, and how we orchestrate updates for optimal performance and security.

Why Is It Essential to Update Your Plugins and CMS?

Why Is It Essential to Update Your Plugins and CMS

Just as mobile apps require periodic updates for optimal functionality, plugins must be updated to guarantee peak performance and robust security. Similarly, your Content Management System (CMS), akin to iPhones and iMacs receiving updates from Apple, needs regular refreshing.

Plugins are extensions to your website, managed by the developers and third-party creators who constructed them. For instance, a website hosting agency like Dilate might utilise common plugins across all their websites, but they remain dependent on the original owners to administer updates.

The Necessity of Updates

Allowing plugins and CMS versions to become outdated can lead to vulnerabilities and security risks on your website. Developers often release new versions of plugins to enhance performance and ensure compatibility with the latest updates to your CMS.

The reasons for these updates are multifaceted and may include:

  • Introduction of new features
  • Resolution of security concerns
  • Fixes for bugs and glitches
  • Enhanced compatibility with your CMS

By keeping your plugins and CMS up to date, you’re investing in the continuous improvement and security of your website.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Updating to a new version of WordPress or a plugin may seem like a straightforward task – just hit the update button. However, complications can arise, particularly if your website relies on numerous plugins.

Here are some common challenges to be aware of:

  • Incompatibility Issues: This can occur with outdated plugins and new CMS versions, leading to unexpected problems.

Issues with Outdated Plugins

When a plugin is no longer maintained by its developers, the technology and framework it was designed for may become obsolete.

The problem arises when the code within the plugin becomes incompatible with your website’s code or conflicts with newer, more advanced plugins on your site.

New WordPress Versions

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WordPress consistently rolls out comprehensive updates to bolster security and enhance performance.

When a new update is launched by WordPress, it necessitates the updating of all plugins within your website to ensure compatibility with the new version. Initially, developers will modify the plugin on their end, and subsequently, you can update it on your website’s backend.

Old custom code, which was compatible with previous WordPress versions, may require modification to function with the new release.

Understanding the Causes of Website Downtime

Updates to plugins or CMS can sometimes lead to website downtime, resulting in improper functioning or complete unavailability. This downtime can be both frustrating and expensive.

The primary cause of website downtime is usually code conflict or incompatibility. This can arise from:

  • Outdated WordPress versions or plugins
  • Conflicting updates between CMS or plugin versions
  • Browser technology that’s incompatible with existing plugins
  • Unsupported plugins
  • The Importance of Backing Up Before an Update

Before initiating any WordPress plugin or version update, it’s vital to perform a full site backup. This precaution ensures that you have a copy of the older version if something goes awry during the update.

This backup serves as a safety net, allowing you to diagnose and rectify any issues that may arise post-update.

The Risks of Automatic Updates

While automatic updates may seem convenient, they can lead to problems ranging from minor formatting glitches to catastrophic site failures.

Identifying the source of a problem can be challenging, especially if multiple updates occur simultaneously. Disabling auto-updates for plugins can save time and allow for more control over the update process.

The Dangers of Mass Updating

The allure of the “Update All” button can be misleading. Running multiple updates at once can make it difficult to pinpoint the root cause of any conflicts or issues, whereas updating one at a time allows for careful monitoring and immediate problem-solving.

Handling Plugins with Multiple Updates

Sometimes, a single plugin may require numerous updates. Jumping from an old version to the latest one can lead to complications, so it’s advisable to update and test each version sequentially.

Our Methodical Approach to Updates 

Rather than hastily clicking “Update All,” we adopt a cautious, step-by-step approach to catch any potential issues. Updating each plugin and CMS version individually may seem tedious, but it’s the most effective way to identify and address problems.

Quoting for Updates

When updating a website, we assess the number and complexity of the required updates to provide a quote. Some updates are straightforward, while others may be time-consuming, especially if the site relies on multiple plugins or requires extensive updates.

If the site was not built by us or appears to rely heavily on plugins, we provide an estimated cost with a warning that the final price may vary based on unexpected complications or additional time needed for corrections.

When Unsure, Avoid Clicking Update

If you find yourself uncertain about the process of updating WordPress plugins and CMS versions, don’t hesitate to contact the team at Perth Digital Edge. We’re here to address any concerns or questions you may have.

Our approachable team will guide you through the safest ways to update your site, and assist you if any issues occur. We’ll demystify the technical language and empower you to keep your site current and secure.

Explore the website hosting Perth services we offer for more information, and let’s find your digital edge today.

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