What WordPress Users Should Know About Version Updates

WordPress™, one of the world’s most popular Content Management Systems (CMS), allows users to instantly launch a new website or begin blogging without the knowledge of web coding languages.

This software is free unless you want a custom WordPress website, which means you will purchase a web address; add your brand design elements; and install “plugins” to enable special features or functionality such as slideshows, event calendars, forums, or online shopping. However, this versatile technology comes with security hazards so WordPress helps keep hackers out of your website by providing version updates. Make sure that your site is running the latest one.

What are WordPress version updates?

custom WordPress websites

Like most open-source software, WordPress websites are vulnerable to security breaches. As a result, WordPress releases a new “version update” any time they want to fix a security problem.

So, to ensure the best user experience, business owners who have custom WordPress websites must perform version updates with every new release. But before you press the update link from your administrative dashboard, we recommend that you complete the following steps.

Step 1: Educate Yourself

After you receive notification that WordPress has released a new version of its software, read about:

  • what security concerns the update will resolve;
  • how the update will affect your site’s theme; and
  • how your plugins will be affected.

Step 2: Make a Site Backup

Before you update your version, always backup your website. This means that if you have problems after the update, you can easily restore your files until you can find help. If you need instructions on how to perform a backup, click here.

Step 3: Deactivate Plugins

Turn off the plugins of your custom WordPress website. Some plugins may conflict with the upgrade process, particularly if your version is 2 or more updates old.

Step 4: Update Your Version

WordPress gives you two options for updating: automatic or manual.

Automatic Update

Current versions of WordPress feature an automatic update. For an automatic update to work, WordPress requires the following criteria (from wordpress.org):

(a) file ownership: all of your WordPress files must be owned by the user under which your web server executes. In other words, the owner of your WordPress files must match the user under which your web server executes. The web server user (named “apache”, “web”, “www”, “nobody”, or some such) is not necessarily the owner of your WordPress files. Typically, WordPress files are owned by the FTP user which uploaded the original files. If there is no match between the owner of your WordPress files and the user under which your web server executes, you will receive a dialog box asking for “connection information”, and you will find that no matter what you enter in that dialog box, you won’t be able to update automatically.

(b) file permissions: all of your WordPress files must be either owner writable by, or group writable by, the user under which your Apache server executes.

On shared hosts, WordPress files should specifically NOT be owned by the web server. If more than one user owns different files in the install (because of edits made by deleting and re-uploading of files via different accounts, for example), the file permissions need to be group writable (for example, 775 and 664 rather than the default 755 and 644). File permissions (in general) should be adjusted as appropriate for the server environment (the shared host RackSpace CloudSites for example recommends 700 and 600 for a single FTP user, or 770 and 660 for multiple ftp users). See the file permission section for more (some files and folders require stricter permissions).

If you meet these requirements, simply click the upgrade link in your dashboard banner or go to the “Tools” tab, then click the “Upgrade” menu.

Note: If you have customized a standard theme, such as “Twenty Twelve”, do not use the automatic upgrade as it will overwrite your changes—use a manual update instead.

Manual Update

  1. Download the latest WordPress version.
  2. Unpack the downloaded zip file.
  3. Turn off your plugins.
  4. Delete the old “wp-includes” and “wp-admin” directories on your web host.
  5. Upload the new “wp-includes” and “wp-admin” directories, overwriting the old files.
  6. Upload the individual files from the new “wp-content” folder to your existing “wp-content” folder, overwriting existing files. Do not delete the existing “wp-content” folder nor any files or folders in your existing “wp-content” directory.
  7. Upload new loose files from the root directory of the new version to your existing WordPress root directory.

Lastly, look at the “wp-config-sample.php” file to see if any new settings are there that you might want to add to your own “wp-config.php”.

Step 5: Reactivate Your Plugins

Now your custom WordPress website is updated and ready to work for you.

For complete instructions, visit WordPress: http://codex.wordpress.org/Updating_WordPress.

Step 6: Watch for Update Notifications

Check your site regularly so that you do not fall behind with your version updates—your site might become vulnerable to hackers or you might lose customers due to poor site performance.

Note: You will update your plugins in a different way so be sure to subscribe to Paveya’s blog to read this upcoming article.

If you need help updating your custom WordPress website, contact Paveya at 855.372.8392.

We look forward to helping our customers CREATE leads, CONNECT with customers, and GROW their business.

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