It’s no secret that we love the WordPress platform around here. When you have a CMS that is so easy to manage – with tons of functionality being added every day – it’s not difficult to see why 19% of the world’s sites run on WordPress. Add in their famous 5-minute install, and how relatively easy it is to poke around “under the hood”, it’s all good right?
Well, maybe not entirely…
Why Automatic Updates Matter
The WordPress ecosystem is great for getting off to a fast start and building your dream site, but like most other software packages, you can’t just “set it and forget it.” Over time, each release of the software is found to contain security vulnerabilities, which can range from minor to serious. These can originate within the WordPress code itself, from a plugin used to introduce new features to the website, or even from vulnerabilities that trickle down from exploits directed at the PHP scripting language or MySQL database statements.
Of course, this is true of all content management systems – or shopping cart software, or computer operating systems (OS), or – you get the point. The important thing is that a defensive mindset is required to keep an eye on security notices and to promptly perform the necessary corrective actions (usually a minor software update).
Which is why webmasters the world over, or at least 19% of them – can now celebrate the fact that WordPress has now enabled automatic updates, a feature that allows your WordPress site to evolve with every minor update (i.e., 3.7.1 to 3.7.2) without requiring human involvement. That said, major version updates must still be carried out manually, but that’s understandable. Major releases often bring about changes to the database or core functions that you want to make sure to backup prior to applying. You are backing up regularly, right?
All you need to do to take advantage of this great step forward is to update whatever version of WordPress you’re currently running to 3.7.1 (the most current release as of this writing) and you’re set. NOTE: It’s been 10+ years since WordPress was first introduced. This means there are a HUGE number of sites out there running on very old versions of the software. Major changes have been made at many points in the software’s life cycle, so please back up your website completely (website files and database) before attempting an update. If you are upgrading from any version earlier than 3.0, you should either be well-versed in the technical nuts & bolts of a WordPress installation, or have your web developer handle the update. Things may “break” and you should test everything thoroughly, especially if you count on your site for sales, leads or community features.
The Bottom Line on WordPress Automatic Updates
The takeaway in all this is that some of the friction that previously existed in maintaining a healthy website has been eliminated, and an upgrade path with fewer obstacles can ensure a higher level of security for Client sites that don’t get looked at or updated often enough. That means your website will now be working harder than ever to keep you in business, so you can focus on all the awesome things only YOU can do.
Have you had trouble wrangling your outdated or difficult-to-manage CMS to work like you need it to? From small lead-generation websites to solid e-commerce storefronts, we help design and build a great solutions that just work. Call or email us if you need a hand.