Ah, system updates. They aren’t just for your computer. System updates are funny because they prompt a certain level of annoyance, if not outright fear, in a lot of people. The typical thought process goes, “My stuff is working just fine. Why should I agree to this process that might break something or cause me to lose data?” Granted, system updates have gotten a bit better with time for all major operating systems. However, there is still that uneasiness over the risks involved. Your WordPress installation is no different from your computer, really. WordPress gets updated with fair regularity for a wide variety of reasons, just like your OS. While you may be a habit user of the “remind me later” feature on your OS updates, it’s recommended that you take your WordPress updates seriously. While your site may seem to be working fine, there could be underlying issues that won’t present themselves until you find yourself in a real mess.
What kind of issues can you avoid by being diligent in your WordPress updates? Here are a few of the big ones.
Everything is Broken
Compatibility is a huge issue. The best WordPress web hosting providers will actually do software updates for you to avoid these kinds of headaches. However, if you’re doing it yourself or you’re just curious what can happen when your WordPress installation is out of date, you should know that the plugins you rely on every single day can be rather temperamental. Now, most plugin developers schedule their updates to coincide with overall WordPress updates. However, as we all know, things happen and sometimes there can be miscommunication or an issue with updates. Your outdated plugin version may no longer function properly if the developers are supporting the current iteration. The reverse can also be true. Updating may, in rare cases, break your existing plugins. Which is why you’ll want to make sure you keep backups of your site handy. Either way, plugins and WordPress versions go hand in hand. Stay up to date to make sure visitors always have the best experience on your site.
Beware of Bugs
Ah, bugs. Your site is displaying some weird behavior and no one can seem to explain why. Next thing you know; you’re rummaging through user forums trying to see if anyone else is experiencing what you are. Of course they are and everyone has realized all they can do at this point is wait for a bug fix update. If you don’t do the continual updates, it will be nearly impossible to find help since that is the first suggested fix for nearly every issue. This is another reason why it’s critical to stay up to date. With each WordPress update more bugs get squashed which creates a better experience for everyone. Granted, each release can bring additional bugs while squashing the old. But, by now we understand that’s just how technology works.
Keep It on Lockdown
Updates provide you with security. The best way to keep your site on lockdown so people with bad intentions can’t get in is through keeping your WordPress installation on the most recent version. If you’re concerned about hackers (especially if you accept credit card information on your site) doing the software updates is a great way to deter them. Hackers rely on becoming familiar with code in order to gain entry. The open source nature of WordPress allows everyone to study it as long as they’d like. That can be both good and bad. The community is good at finding these security exploits and bubbling them up to the WordPress developers. Updates address known security vulnerabilities providing you with more peace of mind. While nothing can guarantee safety, software updates go a long way in thwarting most of the most common security issues.
Cruise on Through
It’s important to keep your WordPress site up to date for a wide variety of reasons. While there is always the uncertainty when it comes to the idea of “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it,” being proactive can avoid headaches down the road. If you’re wary about updating WordPress yourself, choose a hosting company that will perform regular updates for you. Having a “set it and forget it” arrangement can go a long way in giving you peace of mind while you’re operating your business.