WordPress is a Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), which means that it is constantly being updated and revised. The newest version of WordPress, version 3.8, was released in December 2013 and includes a number of significant upgrades. In the second part of this blog series, we will discuss how updating WordPress may have been difficult or onerous in the past, and how WordPress 3.8’s auto-update feature streamlines and simplifies this process.
Is Updating WordPress An Easy Process?
Before the auto-update feature was introduced in WordPress 3.7, updating your WordPress installation could be a simple, hassle-free process – or it could break your website or blog in arcane and maddening ways. It is perfectly reasonable to inquire as to why this may happen. Why should a process that is both required and advertised as “simple” produce unforeseen and sometimes disastrous problems?
Thousands Of Add-ons
The main reason some WordPress updates result in disastrous is that most WordPress installations are not alike. There are thousands of themes, plugins and widgets available for WordPress, and each additional piece of software allows WordPress to be modified, expanded and extended in thousands of ways. This incredible potential for customization is one of the main reasons why WordPress powers more than 60 million websites on the internet. However, this incredible potential for customizations can also provide a myriad of opportunities for a WordPress upgrade to go horribly wrong.
Thankfully, WordPress has greatly advanced since it was first introduced in 2003. Many of the issues that caused upgrade failures and disasters have been removed from the software, and the process by which WordPress-powered websites and blogs have received updates has been simplified and streamlined. Now, since the introduction of WordPress version 3.7, administrators have the option to receive automatic maintenance and security updates for their website or blog.
Enabling Automatic Updates
By default, every version of WordPress since 3.7 has included automatic updating and is enabled by default. However, only “minor core” updates and translation files are enabled to be updated automatically by default. This means that as long as the version of WordPress you have installed is being actively supported by the WordPress developers, you will receive minor core updates to your installation. This will keep your installed version of WordPress secure and stable throughout the course of its active development cycle.
Should Your WordPress Site Update Automatically?
If you have access to the WordPress files installed on your web server, or installed in your web hosting account, you have the option to upgrade or disable the automatic update feature. If you are a WordPress administrator, you also have the option to install update filters using a plugin. Either one of these options allows an administrator to upgrade the feature to allow updates that include major and even beta releases. This can be valuable to administrators that want to streamline the upgrade process for major releases or enable “bleeding edge” upgrades to test or develop new plugins, widgets and themes. However, due to the risks involved with automating a major upgrade to your WordPress installation, it is recommended that novice and intermediate administrators leave the automatic upgrade default in place.