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Should I disable WordPress automatic updates?

Why disable WordPress Automatic Updates

Automatic updates sound great. They just happen. You don’t have to think about it. Less work for you to do. One less thing to think about…

WordPress needs to be updated regularly

Updates address the following:

  1. Security
  2. Bug fixes
  3. Performance
  4. New features
  5. Keeping up with technology

I recommend that you stay on top of keeping WordPress up to date all of the time. But, automatically?  If something sounds too good to be true it probably is.

I recommend turning off automatic updates and doing them manually.

There are multiple parts of WordPress that need to be maintained.

  1. WordPress core code
  2. WordPress plugin code
  3. WordPress themes
  4. Web hosting configuration – like the version of PHP your web hosting account is using

Only 1 part listed above is consistent on any WordPress site. That is the core code that you download from WordPress.org

All of the other parts can be different combinations with different configurations and customizations. That’s the beauty of WordPress. You can build it to do just about anything and look as simple or unique as you want. Have you ever seen two identical websites? With the potential for so many differences, how can automatic updates work perfectly on every website? There are any things to consider. 

Consider these complications if you have automatic updates enabled

You don’t know when automatic updates are happening. If the site breaks, you may not be aware. Users/customers may not be able to access your site. Search engines may not be able to access your site. Once you realize it is broken, you have to troubleshoot what caused the problem.

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If your site breaks from automatic updates, you don’t know what update broke the site. This makes fixing your website after updates broke it more complicated and time consuming.

If you don’t have backups generated regularly, you can not easily restore/roll back after failed updates.

The flip side to automatic updates are manual updates

You need to keep WordPress updated (and your hosting service updated). If you don’t, eventually you will run into problems that can cause extended downtime, and be expensive to repair. Sometimes the only option is to rebuild a new website.

With manual updates, you or someone you hire to maintain your site reviews and updates core code, plugins and themes one by one.  It is a bit tedious, but it ensures that your site is up to date, secure and on line all of the time.

By having full control of the process and making WordPress updates manually you can

  • Generated a backup at the time you are doing updates to ensure data is current.
  • Make updates on a test copy of the site rather than the live site. Doing this your site will never break or have downtime.
  • Review the changelog for updates to see if changes will potentially conflict with other parts of your website.
  • It’s an opportunity to “clean house” but deleting themes you do not use and remove inactive plugins. (Why?  SECURITY)
  • This is a good time to review error logs and core code/files on the server for suspicious activity.
  • Review your hosting service to see if updates are needed on your account to keep up with technology changes
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This may be beyond what site owners are comfortable with.

If that’s the case you should purchase a WordPress maintenance plan  to keep your site updated ongoing.  Website maintenance is part of owning a website, just like maintenance is a part of owning a car.  You know when you buy a car, you need to change the oil regularly and throughput the lifetime of owning the car. While you can learn how to change the oil yourself, most likely you pay someone to do this for you.  You can ignore this maintenance, but eventually you will cause damage and significant expense to your car. It’s the same concept with WordPress.

Updating WordPress is a must. I recommend disabling WordPress automatic updates and doing it manually.

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