05 Feb Why is it important to keep WordPress updated?
Why is it important to keep WordPress updated?
Do you own a WordPress website? Do you keep it updated?
We often get asked by clients why it is important to keep WordPress up to date so we thought it was about time we explained why in our blog.
This post is not to try and sell more maintenance packages to clients! Yes, we offer maintenance to look after WordPress sites for clients, BUT we also offer guides for people that want to do it themselves! We want you to keep your site safe and secure, be it through us or yourself!
What needs updating on a WordPress website?
There are three main things that need updating on a WordPress website: WordPress core files, WordPress theme and WordPress plugins.
WordPress is a free open source software that is developed and updated by a community of developers. They constantly release updates to fix bugs, add new features, increase performance and to keep it safe and secure.
Every time WordPress updates its core files, the theme authors and the plugin authors in turn must update also so it all stays compatible with the core of WordPress.
Why do these things need to stay updated?
The biggest reason to keep your WordPress website up to date is Security. When you do not update your WordPress files, plugins or theme, you create a security risk because it then becomes vulnerable to threats and attack. The WordPress developers are constantly fixing security breaches or improving security. If you don’t update, then your website will not be safe against the latest methods used to hack into a website. By updating your website, it means you are keeping it up to date with the most recent security features.
WordPress powers more than 33% of all websites in the world. This means is a popular target for hackers trying to find vulnerabilities, and looking for old versions of WordPress is one of the most common things they look for to find a way into the site to do damage.
Webpage Load Time:
WordPress are always trying to make things load quicker or take up less resources. Theme authors are always trying to make things load quicker for Google and work better, plugins are always trying to use less resources and yet still offer more than other plugin authors.
By keeping your plugins up to date, it means you are keeping your website loading quickly and the performing the best it can. As this affects your search engine optimisation and your rankings in Google this is another really important factor in why you need to keep your website updated.
WordPress brings out many new features. For example, WordPress released Gutenberg recently. You can read about it in our What is Gutenberg blog post here. If you do not keep your WordPress up to date, again you are missing out on these new features.
Other things to know
Should you enable auto update?
No, and a prime example of why not is the Gutenberg 5.0 release. This broke many websites when it was released and needed to be disabled, as so many plugins were not compatible or ready for it. So, we advise against auto updating a website as any update can break a website.
We advise taking a full back up of your website, and then updating the whole site. If anything causes an issue when you update, then you have a backup you can restore if needed.
That sound like a pain, I may just not update at all if I risk breaking my site…
Yes, that may seem like the easier option or the less expensive option if you cannot update the site yourself but think how expensive it will be to clean up a hacked website or how much business you will lose because your website is down. Everyone deserves to have a website that is safe and secure and running as it should be.
But I cannot afford monthly maintenance…
You can learn how to do the maintenance yourself. You need a little technical knowledge if any issues arise after an update and it causes an incompatibility, but most of the time you will be able to manage it yourself.
But I don’t have time or knowledge to do it myself…
We would then advise asking your design company or a company you trust to do the maintenance for you. It is important and does need doing. It doesn’t need to cost you a fortune and for the peace of mind it brings, it is worth it. However, NEVER let anyone scare you into buying maintenance. This blog post is meant to be an honest resource so you’re aware of why it needs updating and that you do have the choice to do it yourself. If your designer has not let you know it needs updating, then that’s bad also. Make sure when you choose a company for a new website design and you’re choosing WordPress, that they tell you the costs of their monthly maintenance if you need them to do it, or if they provide guides so you can do it yourself.
What else do you suggest I do, to keep my site running well?
Take a full back up at least once a month. If you have backups with your hosting, check they are running daily and see how many days these are stored for.
- Update all core WordPress files
- Update theme files
- Update all plugins
- Run a security scan to make sure your site is nice and secure and no files changes.
- Optimise your database
- Optimise all images and check they all have ALT text on.
- Check your website is still loading under 3 seconds.
- Tweak your content once a month or publish a blog, it pings Google to tell them you have new content and helps your search engine rankings.
Keeping your site updated and secure is so important. People underestimate how important this is, and we can’t emphasize how much it really is vital! We hope this helps you realise just how important it is.
Second Disclaimer: We can’t say you will never get hacked, but what we do say is make sure you try to prevent it by staying up to date, and you or your designer take regular backups so if the worst ever does happen, your site can be restored quickly, so you have no downtime in your business.
If you do need help looking after your website, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0800 321 3843 or email us and we will be happy to help you.