Why You Should Always Use the Latest Version of WordPress

Published on April 10, 2019 4 min read

Every time when a new WordPress update comes out, then we get several emails from users who asking us if it’s safe to update their WordPress site. Are you wondering whether you should update your WordPress to the latest version? If you don’t know the pros and cons of updating WordPress then you can follow our articles. In this article, we will explain why it is crucial that you always use the latest version of WordPress as well as show you how to properly update WordPress.

WordPress is a site which is free, and it is developed by a community of developers. With each and every new release, they fix bugs, add new features, improve performance, and enhance existing features to stay up to date with new industry standards.

When you do not know how to update your WordPress site, then you are risking your website security and missing out on new features/improvements.

Let’s take a look at pros and cons of updating WordPress.

Security

Security is the most important reason why you should keep your WordPress website up to date.

WordPress currently powers 23% of all websites in the world. Because of its popularity, WordPress is the main target for hackers, malicious code distributors, data thieves, and wannabe hackers.

WordPress is an open source, that’s why anyone can study the source code to learn and improve it. It also means that hackers can study it too and find ways to break into websites.

Now the good part is that all hackers are not bad. There are a lot more good hackers than bad ones which mean that security experts around the world can study the code and properly report security bugs/fixes. Every time a security vulnerability is reported, the core WordPress team works diligently to release an update that fixes the issue.

That means, if you are not using the latest version of WordPress, then you are using software with known security vulnerabilities. Hackers can search for websites running the older version, and you may become a victim of a sophisticated attack.

Not only WordPress but also plugins can also be exploited by hackers. You need to make sure that all your WordPress plugins, themes, and the core itself are always up to date.

Cool New Features

Every major WordPress release comes with new features and changes to the software. For example, WordPress 4.0 came with improved plugin install experience,4.1 introduced inline image editing, and 4.2 came with faster plugin updates.

Now if you were using a version which is older of WordPress, then your WordPress experience would be a lot different than someone using the latest version.

You will have found trouble WordPress help online because you are using an older version. Users on WordPress support forums will assume that you are using the latest version of WordPress.

Speed

Each new WordPress version improves performance

WordPress developers are always trying to improve and make things faster. Every new release comes with several performance improvements that makes WordPress run faster and more efficient.

For example, WordPress 4.2 improved JS performance for navigation menus, and WordPress 4.1 improved complex queries which helped with the performance of sites using those queries.

As speed is a large factor in SEO, you should definitely keep your WordPress updated to ensure maximum performance benefits.

Big Fixes

For the reason of rigorous testing of major WordPress releases, sometimes bugs may slip through the cracks. That’s why there are timely WordPress releases which are minor (the ones with X.X.X) to account for that. In example, the most recent WordPress 4.2.3 update fixed 20 bugs from the 4.2 release.

When you go to WordPress support forums asking for help, then the first advice you will get is to update WordPress because that may fix the issue. If you insist on not updating WordPress, then you will be unable to receive help.

Compatibility (or NOT)

Sometimes plugin and theme developers coordinate their updates with major WordPress releases to ensure that they’re taking advantage of available features and enhancements which is new.

In some cases, an update can break your existing WordPress plugins if they weren’t following the best practices and coding standards.

This is why it is crucial that you keep regular WordPress backups.

There are some rare cases your site will break is given below. However, the upside is that you have:

  • Improved WordPress security
  • Cool new WordPress features
  • Faster WordPress experience
  • A bug-free WordPress website
  • Better compatibility

Let’s take a look at how to update WordPress.

How to Keep Your WordPress site Updated

If you do not know how to keep your WordPress updated then you can follow this. It is not a big deal. Updating your WordPress core, plugins, and themes whenever there is a new update for them is fairly easy. WordPress comes with a built-in update notification system. It highlights the number of available updates when you log into your WordPress dashboard.

Now you need to do is visit Dashboard » Updates page and install those updates. This is a one-click process.

As many website owners who do not log in to their WordPress dashboard regularly, they may not even know that there is an update available for days. Thankfully, you have a few options.

If you’re using WordPress 3.7 or above, then automatic updates are turned on for minor releases (which are reserved for security and bug fixes). You can turn on automatic updates for major releases, plugins as well as themes.

Alternatively, you can get email notifications when there is a new update for your WordPress site.

Get Email Notifications for Updates in WordPress

When you’re busy with your business, logging into your site to check for updates is usually the last thing on your mind. It will be easier if you could get an email notification whenever there is an update on your WordPress sites.

Well that’s possible.

First, you need to do is install and activate the WP Updates Notifier plugin. Upon activation, visit Settings » Updates Notifier to configure the plugin settings.

This plugin uses WordPress cron to check your site for updates every hour. You can change that to once or twice daily. When there is a new update available, this plugin will send you an email notification.

It checks for WordPress core update, plugin updates, and theme updates. All you need to do is click on save settings with test email button.

Auto Install WordPress Updates

Now you can automate the process. WordPress allows you to enable automatic updates for major releases, plugins, and themes.

This option is risky if you’re not using managed WordPress hosting. Managed WordPress hosting companies automatically update your site to major WordPress versions and keep an eye out if something breaks.

When you turn on automatic updates, then there is a risk which is slight that your site may break and you won’t be online to fix it right away. Having said that, if you like to enable automatic updates, then there are two ways to do it (plugin method and code method).

Let’s take a look at the plugin method first.

First, you need to install and activate the Easy Updates Manager plugin. Upon activation, you need to visit Dashboard » Update Options page to configure the plugin.

Now you need to scroll down to automatic updates section where you can enable automatic updates for core, plugins, themes, and translation files. Once you are done, simply save your settings.

Enable Auto update using wp-config File

Now you can enable automatic updates for WordPress core by simply adding this line to your wp-config.php file.

wp-config.php
define('WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE', true);

If you also want to automatically update your themes and plugins, then you would need to add this to your theme’s functions.php file or a site-specific plugin.

functions.php
add_filter( 'auto_update_plugin', '__return_true' );
add_filter( 'auto_update_theme', '__return_true' );

We hope this article will help you learn why you should always use the latest version of WordPress.

You're welcome to suggest any article to write!

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