WordPress Update: How To Do It Easily And Safely?

WordPress Update

The latest WordPress update calls you to order every day. Whether you’re in the middle of your SEO optimization session or battling for your site’s load speed, the update notification is always there, at the top with its exclamation marks.

That’s right, installing WordPress was easier than you might imagine, at the time of but you are a little more worried about the update and are pushing this step as much as possible.

However, it is essential for the proper functioning of your site!

A WordPress update intervenes on 3 main points.

It allows you to correct the bugs of the last version, to give you new features and to maintain the security of your site by getting rid of the flaws found in the previous version.

So you have every interest in passing the course and click on the small notification at the top of the page. Be careful, however, there are extremely important precautions to take before taking action, I will tell you about them in a few lines.

Before, I still have to admit that it was not entirely useless to wait a little before doing so. In fact, in the days following a WordPress update release, a number of bugs are found by users and fixed by WordPress.

This is especially the case for major releases, while minor releases are precisely the versions that correct the bugs revealed.

A major release is a major update, with significant changes. Often it is about the arrival of new features. This is the case with version 5.0 of WordPress for example, which introduces a new content editor: Gutenberg.

Rather, a minor release reserves minor bug fixes and improvements and doesn’t have too much technical impact.

You can therefore wait a few days for the main bugs to be fixed before proceeding with a major update.

Logic would dictate that we identify the type of update by its number, say that a transition from X.1 to X.2 would be a major release while X.2.3 to X.2.4 a minor release. However, it seems that this is not always the case!

So take the time to learn about the type of update and then decide if you prefer to wait for it to prove itself for a week or two before updating your site.

1 The precautions before proceeding to a WordPress update.

The mentors of our WordPress training keep repeating it, it is essential to secure your update by a few key actions. This will prevent you from causing big damage and spending a lot of time fixing your site or finding your lost data.

Check the system requirements

Check that your WordPress host has the required PHP and MySQL versions (insert definition). You can see them on the WordPress prerequisites page, they even have a pre-written message to send to your host in case you can’t find the information !! Definitely, I find them really incredible !!

Make a backup of your site !!

In principle, you should have scheduled regular updates, maybe even via one of the WordPress plugins (link to section 2 of the article, is that ok?) Recommended by our dear Thomas. But I take the risk of getting bored with an unnecessary reminder and saying it again, don’t touch anything until you’ve made a backup!

It will come in handy if anything happens during the update and you need to go back.

Make sure to use a child theme rather than the parent theme
If one day, even a long time ago, you make adjustments or make changes to your theme code, they may jump at the time of the update, as if the theme was reset. To avoid this, you need to generate a child theme, from your parent theme. It will be identical and will offer you the same functionalities but will not be affected by updates.

You can easily find very easy to use child theme generators online. (I wanted to put examples but these are competing blogs or even trainers … what do you think?)

Disable plugins

A plugin that has not been updated to work with the latest version of WordPress can crash the entire update.

To do so, go to the extension section on the dashboard. All you have to do is choose the “deactivate” option in the “Grouped actions” drop-down menu, then click “Apply”.

If you have completed these 4 steps, you can calmly get down to business and launch the WordPress update that awaits you. There are several ways to do this, I explain just below so you can choose the one that’s right for you.

2 Two WordPress update techniques

A WordPress update can be done in two ways: automatic or manual.

I guess like me you are wondering why and how to choose the right option.

With an automatic update, the new version of WordPress comes, in a way, overwriting the old one. At the same time (it’s not the right word but I can’t find it), during a manual update, you download the new version and you substitute it for the old one yourself.

This is the reason why the more seasoned (but it is still possible 😉) will prefer the manual WordPress update for even more control and security.

The manual update is also a solution when the automatic update did not work as expected, either because a precaution was forgotten or because of the write rights settings of your server.

Automatic update

It is extremely simple!

After having followed all the precautions presented above, go to the Dashboard then to the Updates tab and click Update now.

That’s all ! All you have to do is wait for the update to complete!

Manual update

Make sure you have followed all the security steps before proceeding with the WordPress update. I know, I repeat, this is the last time, I promise!

Download the new version of WordPress here. When you unzip it, you will find files, classic subfolders
Go to your FTP software
Info! An FTP, File Transfer Protocol, allows you to transfer files from a server to a computer and vice versa.It is super useful but also has its limits, it does not allow you to transfer your site from WordPress.com to WordPress.org for example. One of the best known is FileZilla, but you can download whatever is right for you.

  1. Go to the root directory of your site. The main files we are interested in are “wp-admin” and “wp-includes”. Before uploading the new version, you must either delete them or add a suffix (-old) to them if you want to find them more easily in case of problem. (always me and my precautions …)
  2. Upload the content of the new version of WordPress that you downloaded EXCEPT the wp-content folder !! “Wp-content” contains the images and plugins themes of your site, it would be a shame to lose them by replacing it with a blank folder. Choose the “replace” option for all the “already existing” files at the time of transfer. If you perform a manual update after an automatic update has failed, delete the “.maintenance” file it is responsible for the persistent “Update failed” message.
  3. After the transfer, login to your site to verify the success of the WordPress update and congratulate yourself !! Remember to delete the “wp-admin-old” and “wp-includes-old” folders if it is there option you chose. 😉 That’s it, you can finally take advantage of all the new WordPress features!
  4. Go to your FTP software
  5. Info! An FTP, File Transfer Protocol, allows you to transfer files from a server to a computer and vice versa.It is super useful but also has its limits, it does not allow you to transfer your site from WordPress.com to WordPress.org for example. One of the best known is FileZilla, but you can download whatever is right for you.

Updating themes and plugins

You can now update your themes and plugins or extensions.

You will do exactly the same as for your automatic WordPress update.

Do not hesitate to go up and read a few lines about the child theme so as not to lose all your settings. 😉

Go through the dashboard> updates.

The list of extensions and themes for which updates are available appears. You can “select all” or only the ones that interest you before clicking “Update extensions” and “Update themes”.

In the rare event that the latest version of an extension does not appear, you can update via FTP. Download the latest version of the extension from its site and replace the version present in the famous “wp-content” that I told you about earlier.

3 Restore the previous version of WordPress

What good is restoring a previous version? You will tell me. What is the use of going back?

Well be aware that if you have followed all these instructions, your WordPress update should go smoothly. But if you still get the “update failed” message, going back will be very useful! This is what you need to do before starting the update again.

Going back to the previous version is like doing a manual update. Except that instead of the most recent version, you install the backup you made when you started out.

If you don’t have your backup you will install the old version of WordPress to download from their site.

Head to your FTP!

Delete the “wp-admin” and “wp-includes” folders
Transfer your backup or the old version of WordPress by overwriting / replacing the present folders EXCEPT the wp-content folder !!
Delete the “.maintenance” file
Log in to your site to verify that everything is ok. 🙂
You may need to update your database. WordPress offers it to you automatically.

And here we are again, you can again launch a manual update as explained a little earlier, part II.2.

To conclude I will say that yes, it was all technical but in fact anyone can do it. I would even say, that everyone must do it! A WordPress update is far too important, ultimately you have no choice. (angel)

So take a deep breath, take all the necessary precautions and go ahead with peace of mind, everything will be fine !! You will soon return to your optimizations and monetization of your site. 😉

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