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Update management for WordPress

Building the website of your dreams with WordPress is only the beginning. Once you’ve published your website, you’re entering the maintenance phase, where the main task is to maintain and optimise the functionality of your new online home.

This article covers the reasons to update regularly and suggests a number of ways to tackle updates.

Don’t have time to read to the end? Watch this 3-minute video on how to keep your WordPress site up to date!

Why you should update WordPress

The importance of updates

WordPress has become the world’s leading CMS thanks to its versatility, allowing its users endless customisation and creative freedom by offering a near infinite number of ways to combine themes and plugins to create websites with truly unique appearance and functionality.

However, each component is like any other software subject to updates and maintenance. In case of failure to update a component when needed you’re putting yourself at risk of the following:

1) Security issues

WordPress powers roughly 40 % of the internet, making its components attractive targets for hackers. Vulnerabilities are common. Since the launch of our Managed WordPress add-on with daily vulnerability scans in late 2021, more than 43 500 vulnerabilities have been detected and repaired.

Development teams work constantly on improving the security of their products resulting in frequent new releases that are left up to end user, you, to install.

2) Bug fixes

With more than 33 000 themes and 60 000 plugins available in the WordPress repository, chances of encountering a bug every now and then are high. Thankfully, developers work tirelessly to identify bugs and improve the quality of their products by releasing new versions. The best way to benefit from their work is to update as soon as an update becomes available.

3) Performance improvements

Whether it’s brand new features or lighter files, if you don’t update, your website won’t evolve and you risk missing out on competitive advantage. Updating regularly can even improve your site’s speed.

4) Compatibility issues

WordPress users often fear that an update might clash with another component and break their site. Actually, it’s the other way around. The best way to make sure that all plugins and themes are compatible is by running the latest versions of each one. Skipping an update today might cause problems later on.

It is however true that plugins and themes can have some compatibility issues early into a new WordPress core release. Plugins and themes are blocks of code and stylesheets that are compatible in most cases, but exceptions happen and can sometimes affect how your website looks and functions.

If that happens, your best option is to roll back to a previous version of the component causing the issue, then try updating again after giving its development team some time to address the issue.

Now that we’ve covered that an updated WordPress site is more secure and better performing, let’s discuss a number of ways in which you can go about updating your WordPress site.

Ways to update your WordPress site

1) 1 click updates within the WP admin dashboard

This is the simplest way of updating any component – just navigate to the Update page from your WP admin dashboard and see which updates are available, then click update. This method works for most users and only requires manual follow up action in a handful of rare cases.

The downside is that this method requires you to log in and perform this action quite often. With the average site having 18 plugins installed, there are many releases to keep track of. And if an update causes a compatibility issue that breaks your site, it’s up to you to repair.

There’s an auto update feature that you can enable in WordPress versions 5.5 and up, but there’s no way to control the process and you won’t be notified if an update changes your site’s appearance, which brings back the manual task of checking on your updates.

2) Manually by FTP

This is sometimes required if the 1 click updates aren’t working as intended or if an update is interrupted. It is always recommended that you back up your site before updating manually. Besides a recent backup of your site, you’ll need an FTP client like FileZilla and your FTP credentials from your site’s host.

Then access your site via FTP and locate the folders of the components that are to be updated. It’s a good idea to download those as well, as backup in case you need to roll back later on. Then delete the folder from your remote directory in your FTP client.

From the local directory of your FTP client, find the folder that is to replace the old one and upload it to your remote directory. Don’t worry; deleting a component directory should not cause your website to lose any data or settings, as they are contained in the database.

When done, you’ll need to activate the components that have been updated in your WP admin dashboard.

3) By using an update automation plugin or enabling auto updates

There are plugins that will run your updates for you, and you can always enable auto updates from the update page of your WP admin dashboard. Very helpful if you lack the time to log into your WordPress site on a regular basis. The downside is that you still have no control over the process. If an update proves incompatible with your other components and your site breaks, you’ll end up having to repair it.

Managed hosting can mean different things with different hosts, but as the name implies, some manual tasks are managed for you to save time and allow you to reap all the performance and security benefits of WordPress professionals managing your site. At one.com, we’re committed to your online success and have a managed WordPress offer packed with premium features like our Update Manager that will not only automate your updates at the core, theme and plugin level, but rid you of the bad, code breaking ones altogether.

Activate The Update Manager and your updates will run automatically. If you prefer, you can set your own custom schedule so you and your visitors aren’t interrupted during your busiest hours.

Toggle on the visual update tester to make sure no update breaks your site. It will take screen shots of your site, run the updates in a staging area, component by component and compare the results to how your site looked like before the update. If there’s no change detected in your site’s appearance after the staged update, the live update is allowed to run. Your site is backed up daily, and if needed, you can roll back to a previous version of any component in a few clicks. You are of course in full control of the process as you can choose which components to include in your automated update routine.

This option is the only available one that fulfils all requirements for a successful automated update routine: it runs automatically, it can be scheduled, it tests the update, rollbacks are available and backups included.


To sum up, updates are important but tedious and sometimes cause unwanted changes to your code. There are still more reasons to update than not to.

There’s a handful of ways to set up an update management routine, of which only one can free you from manual tasks completely and mitigate the risk of having your site broken by a bad update – using the Update Manager, a feature included in the Managed WordPress add-on, compatible with all hosting plans here at one.com.

Besides the update manager, as a Managed WordPress customer, you’ll unlock all other benefits like priority customer support 24/7 via live chat, daily vulnerability scans, a health monitor keeping track of your site in real time with actionable improvement suggestions, real time performance tracking with Google Lighthouse built in, premium cookie consent management by leading legal compliance platform Cookie Information and exclusive deals on market leading plug ins like WP Rocket. And of course, a free SSL-certificate, Google Ads credit and other perks. It’s free in the first year!