If you manage your own WordPress website, you’ve probably seen the backend alerts for core, theme and plugin updates. It seems simple enough to click the update button and most of the time things go smoothly. It takes just one instance of updates not running smoothly to realize what a huge mistake you’ve made by not taking a more strategic approach to applying updates. Fixing an issue can be very complicated and time consuming. Avoid making a mistake that jeopardizes your website by following this WordPress website update process.

1 – Create a Backup

Create a backup of your website files and database tables. You can do this on the WordPress backend by installing one of the many backup plugins. We’ve had good luck with Updraft. If you have access to your server, you can also login there and run a backup. Regardless of which option you choose, you should download a copy of the backup locally, just in case there is an issue with the version stored on your server. Be sure to verify that the backup file is not corrupt. You can revert to this backup if an issue occurs during the update process.

2 – Apply Updates Systematically

Once your backup is completed, apply one update at a time. For instance, if you have 10 plugins that need updating, you technically can check off and run all 10 at the same time. However, this is not ideal. If an update fails, it will be difficult to identify which plugin was problematic. Instead, run one update at a time and confirm that it was successful. You can do this by refreshing the backend and/or checking the frontend of the website. If either fails to load, then there was likely an issue with the update.

3 – Test Website Features

Testing is an important step in the WordPress website update process. Perform a quality check on the frontend of the website. Be sure to check everything since an update for a particular plugin can cause conflicts elsewhere. For example, if you update a contact form plugin, the contact form page may function properly but may conflict with a slideshow plugin and cause that to glitch. An overall test is needed to identify such issues.

Other WordPress Website Update Process Recommendations

By following the above WordPress website update process, you can better protect your website from having major issues as a result of updates. If your server has a staging area, it can also be helpful to apply updates to staging before attempting it on a live website. This is particularly helpful for major WordPress core or theme updates.