Keeping your website up-to-date can go a long way in maintaining your website’s security, but there are a number of issues that can crop up when updating a plugin, or theme or even the core WordPress. Updating a website seems like an easy job but it isn’t. Developers are rolling out updates on a regular basis. And the more themes and plugins you use, the more time you’ll spend updating them every week. This is just a sneak peek of the troubles caused due to updates.
These are two very common but huge issues users face when updating a WordPress website:
- Site breaks
- Licenses have to be renewed
1. Your website breaks
When you build a website, you built it around the version of theme or plugin is available at the time. And when a new version of the plugin or theme is available, one might expect that the website will work exactly as it had been working so far. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Updates can create compatibility issues that can cause websites to break.
Compatibility issues can crop up between two plugins or two themes. It can also occur between a plugin and a theme and vice versa. We have also seen issues cropping up between the core and a plugin/theme. While developers try to make sure that the new version of the theme or plugin does not cause any compatibility issues, this is not always fail-proof.
For instance, WooCommerce, an extremely popular WordPress plugin has a history of breaking websites. Users who had to build their websites around the previous version of the plugin experience the said issue when they update the plugin. The updates are rolled out to fix bugs issues or patch security loopholes. But it ends up creating more issues than solving them. As a result, many WordPress users prefer to skip the update and their website remains vulnerable.
It’s a catch 22 situation!
This is where staging sites come in. A staging site is a clone of the original website. You can test updates on the staging website without any fear of impacting your original site. There are many staging services to choose from. Here is a guide on how to stage a website with one-click using BlogVault (a backup plugin that offers free staging services).
2. Licenses have to be renewed
Until a few years ago, updating premium WordPress plugins and themes was easy. Users did not have to pay to receive updates of the software. Of late, the trend is shifting towards a different system. Users can subscribe for a year and then they have to extend their subscription to keep receiving updates of the theme/plugin.
Many a time we’ve come across users who were unaware that they are subscribing for a year. When they try to update their plugins or themes at the end of their subscription term, they are told to renew their license. Unfortunately, at this stage, many site owners terminate their subscription and look for a cheaper tool, and hence, lose out on important updates.
Besides running into these two common issues, here are a few more problems surrounding WordPress updates.
- You may stop receiving updates
- You may receive too many updates too often
- Update alerts are hard to come by
Let’s take a closer look at these problems.
3. You may stop receiving updates
The reason you stop receiving updates is when developers abandon their theme/plugin. This happens sometimes when developers fail to make the software profitable. And sometimes when they are unable to devote enough time to maintain and improve the software. An example that comes to mind right away is the Canvas Theme. In 2017, it was announced that the theme was no longer being maintained and users were urged to look for alternatives.
While it’s annoying to have to find a new theme/plugin that perfectly suits your needs, there’s an even bigger problem. What if you don’t see the message informing you that the developer is abandoning his theme/plugin?
Like any other software would, the outdated plugin/theme starts showing signs of vulnerabilities, compatibility issues, and other issues that won’t get the attention they need. Needless to say, this is dangerous for your website.
4. You may receive too many updates too often
How often do you update the apps on your smartphone? Perhaps a more appropriate question is how often do you ignore them?
With update notifications constantly flashing on your smartphone, you tend to ignore them at some point. You stop updating your phone because there’s no end in sight. You get used to the alerts and forget the value of alerts. The same happens on a WordPress website.
The alerts keep rolling to a point when you are tired of updating your site every day. You stop caring, and before you know it, your site is hacked, thanks to a vulnerable theme you didn’t update.
5. Update alerts are hard to come by
At the beginning of the article, we said that WordPress has made it easy to keep your site up-to-date. WordPress alerts users when there’s an update and enables them to implement updates from the dashboard with just one-click. But there’s a catch.
Not every update is available on the dashboard. Premium themes and plugins that you buy from marketplaces like ThemeForest, CodeCanyon, Greta Themes have a different process when it comes to updating their plugins and themes. It becomes hard to keep track of all the update alerts because they are available on different platforms.
Take for instance GretaThemes. They notify users about an update by sending an email. In the email, there is a download link for the new version of the theme you’ve purchased from them.
There are many benefits to keeping your WordPress websites updates but it’s also very important to know the pitfalls. You can take appropriate steps to avoid the pitfalls we mentioned in the article. Like we mentioned earlier in the article, the best solution is to make a copy of the website and try updating the plugins, themes even the WordPress core on the duplicate website. The process is called staging and there are many services that offer facilities to stage a site.
The problem with many staging services is that they are often staged on the same server as your original website. When that happens, your original website can become slow.
If you want a kick-ass staging site that doesn’t overload your server, try BlogVault.
It’s a backup service that offers FREE staging and stages website on its own server and not your website server.
Try Free Staging From BlogVault.