Only 35% of all the WordPress installations in the world are using the latest 5.2 version as reported by the CMS itself. According to a study, about 39% of the surveyed compromised websites built on the platform, was using an outdated version. These statistics only go to show how important it is to update WordPress installations. Keeping your core upgraded helps in addressing critical security vulnerabilities as well as getting access to new features. Most of the updates released by the platform contain bug fixes and security patches. These solutions along with new functionalities increase the efficiency of a website and also ease the workflow of the webmaster. The process to install an upgrade is simple and quick but you must conduct it in the correct manner to avoid any issues. The following are the key steps that you must follow while updating your installation.
The first step is to create a backup of your website before starting the process. This will safeguard your valuable content and other elements in case any issue arises during the upgrade. Backup creation must be a standard precautionary measure at all times for the users of the CMS. Many new owners like those who convert websites to WordPress will be unaware of how to conduct the process. There are numerous backup plugins that help in automating back up creation. You can install one to save the latest version of your website in a safe location.
Caching helps in serving your web pages faster to your audience. Many people use caching plugins to enable the feature on their interface. However, before updating the core files, this handy feature must be turned off. In case you fail to do so, all visitors will continue to see the old version of your pages even if the upgrade process is successful. This because the tool will be serving the cached copies to users. It is, therefore, necessary to deactivate caching before you start the process.
The best way to test everything without affecting your original interface is to use a staging site. In simple words, a staging site is a duplicate version of your website which is not available to live users. This helps in testing out changes and new features without any fear of ruining your original interface. There are multiple ways of creating a staging environment. Many managed WordPress hosting services provide the facility to their subscribers. Another option is to use a plugin like WP Stagecoach which will create a hidden folder on your host where the cloned interface will be staged.
PHP is a vital component of the CMS which defines how the HTML output of a page will be displayed in a browser. People looking to update WordPress installations must upgrade their PHP version before the process. The minimum PHP version requirement as specified by WordPress itself is 7.3. Using the specified version will address security issues and also improve the loading speed of your interface. Access the cPanel of your website and then go to and find the option called Select PHP Version. You can expect to find it listed under the Software section.
On the next screen, you will see your current version. In case, it is 7.3 or above, you do not need to make any changes. However, if it is not the case, you can select the correct variant through the dropdown menu. Press the Set as a current tab to confirm the change.
You must update all your plugins as well as the theme that you are using before upgrading the core. All plugins and themes receive their own specific updates released by their developers. You can check the pending updates of all the items by clicking on the Updates option in the admin dashboard. Here you will find all the plugins and themes for which updates have been released, listed under separate headings. Select all the elements and then press the Update Plugins or the Update Themes button.
You can also upgrade the items separate by visiting Appearance > Themes or Plugins > Installed Plugins.
It is now time to update the core files of your WordPress installation. The CMS enables its users to conduct the process in a single click. Simply visit the Updates section as explained in the previous step. In case, you are not using a current variant then, right on top of the screen, you will see the following notification:
An updated version of WordPress is available.
Press the Update Now button under the notification to finish the upgrade.
This step-by-step process to update WordPress will help you in conducting the process effortlessly in an error-free manner. Those of you who do not feel confident in doing the task yourself must hire professional WordPress developers to do the needful.