Most WordPress Hosting solutions in the market include ‘automatic updates’ as part of their offering. Why then, are we even toying with the question of whether you should enable these automatic updates?
WordPress updates typically patch vulnerabilities, add features and improve performance of your website. If your question was “Do these updates need to be installed?”, the answer is usually yes - whether you’re a WordPress guru or a layman.
However, the modular nature of WordPress, where you can use different Themes or Plugins to customize and add optional functions to your website creates compatibility issues. This is where complications arise as the themes and plugins are usually built by a separate set of developers and they may not all be ready for backward-compatibility at the time your auto-update happens.
An automatic update could then end up breaking some mission-critical features or design elements on your website, resulting in lost business and/or bad impressions with your audience.
Here’s a guide on how you can decide what’s best for your WordPress website.
What does 'Automatic Updates' for WordPress mean?
First, let’s get some context. WordPress accounts for well over a quarter of all websites that are currently available on the internet. It is simply the most popular content management system out there. As an open source tool with a global community of developers, WordPress frequently releases feature enhancements and updates that boost security and patch known vulnerabilities.
‘Automatic Updates’ as a WordPress hosting feature might vary in scope from one hosting provider to another. Some might support updates only to the core installation of WordPress while others might support updates to Plugins, Themes etc., complete with backups and roll-back restore points, should something go wrong.
Webnames WordPress Hosting makes use of the Plesk WordPress Toolkit which allows you to customize exactly how you want your automatic updates to work – with options to update just the WordPress core or include themes and plugins. You can also configure periodic WordPress backups and restore points which can come in handy if you need to make revisions. What’s more, you can configure the backups to an external address through FTP or even to a cloud storage account at AWS or Google Drive.
Factors to consider before you activate Automatic Updates to WordPress
Your decision will hinge on the features that your website includes, functions that it performs for you and the volume of traffic it receives. You can arrive at the right answer for you, by answering the following questions:
- What is the primary purpose of your website – does it play the role of information distribution (like a brochure or portfolio), lead generation (with a simple contact form, but no payments) or e-commerce?
- What’s your or your organization’s level of expertise with WordPress?
- What’s the volume of traffic that your website receives on an average day?
Regardless of your WordPress expertise, if your website is primarily aimed at information disbursal, and receives relatively moderate traffic (<50 unique visitors daily), you could enable Automatic WordPress updates. We strongly recommend that you ensure that your backups and restores are configured correctly by contacting Webnames support.
WordPress usage scenarios & decisions
If you are comfortable using the WordPress drag and drop editors but are not keen on diving into advanced WordPress short-codes and PHP (the language in which WordPress is built), you should evaluate the impact and value that your website offers you. If your WordPress powered website is critical to your day-to-day operations, you can now get expert WordPress support with our WordPress Support plan. Allow our WordPress pros to take care of the fiddly bits while you focus on what you love the most!
If you use your WordPress website for online transactions or receive high volumes of traffic, we strongly recommend that you subscribe to alerts for WordPress updates, but disable automatic updates since it could interfere with mission critical functions. To install these updates, you can use the Staging & Deployment features to safely test all functions before launching them.
At the end of the day, features such as Automatic Updates offer terrific convenience and help you secure your WordPress websites, but should be used with caution. Every website is unique and so is every use-case and we hope that this post helps you arrive at the right solution that strikes a balance between convenience and caution.