WordPress plugin updates enable you to maintain peak performance while keeping your site secure. However, you might not know how to manage updates on your site.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to run WordPress plugin updates, and most of them are quite straightforward. For instance, you can update plugins in bulk, use a staging site, and enable automatic updates.
Why it’s important to update your WordPress plugins
Outdated software can function as a backdoor to your site for those with malicious intentions. Often, vulnerabilities in software become known to hackers, who are then able to find ways to exploit the plugin and gain access into your site and its database.
Plugin updates typically come with patches for these known vulnerabilities and can therefore increase the security of your site. They may also contain fixes for other errors.
Plus, most developers release updates with enhanced code to help make your site lighter and faster. These updates can also include new features that add more functionality to your site.
How to manage WordPress plugin updates
Now that you know why it’s important to conduct WordPress plugin updates, let’s take a look at six tips to help you get started. First, however, let’s run through the default way to update plugins in your WordPress dashboard.
All you need to do is head to Dashboard > Updates:
Here, you can check which version of WordPress you’re running on your site. Plus, you’ll be able to see if there are any updates available.
If you scroll down, you’ll also see whether you have any themes or plugins that need updating. You can select the ones that you want to update and click on Update Plugins.
When there are updates available, WordPress will show you a red notification next to the Updates tab. Often, you’ll also see a notification on the Plugins tab.
Now, let’s look at 🔎 six effective ways to manage WordPress updates on your site.
- Update plugins in bulk
- View version details before updating plugins
- Use a staging site to test WordPress plugin updates
- Roll back the plugin to a previous version
- Enable automatic updates for trusted plugins
- Install a backup recovery plugin
1. Update plugins in bulk
If you have more than one plugin that requires updating, you might want to view and update plugins in bulk. This enables you to complete your WordPress plugin updates at a much faster pace.
To get started, go to Plugins > Installed Plugins. Then, click on Update Available:
Here, you can see all the plugins that need updating. You can either select the specific plugins that you want to update, or tick the Plugin box at the top of the list to select all of them.
Next, use the Bulk actions dropdown menu to select Update:
Then, click on Apply to complete your WordPress plugin updates.
While this method can be quite efficient, you might want to avoid updating too many plugins at the same time, as it could overwhelm your site.
2. View version details before updating plugins
To make sure all updates are safe and compatible with your site, you’ll want to click on View version details before you run the update. This way, you can see all the changes that the developer has made to the plugin.
Sometimes, you’ll be redirected to a web page that logs every change that has ever been made to that plugin:
As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to wait at least one week before running the available update if it is focused on adding new features. By that time, any compatibility issues or errors should have been identified and resolved by the developers.
Of course, if it’s a security or maintenance update, you’ll want to go right ahead and update the plugin immediately.
3. Use a staging site to test WordPress plugin updates
Another way to manage WordPress plugin updates effectively is to use a staging site. This way, you can test out the update before applying the changes to your live website.
A staging site is a copy of your website that can be used to try out new features, run updates, or switch themes. Since your staging site isn’t accessible to the public, you’re able to apply these changes in private without impacting the user experience. Plus, your live website will remain unaffected should anything go wrong.
With WP Staging, you’ll even be able to clone your entire database. Plus, it makes it easy to push changes and migrate plugins to your live site once you’ve confirmed that it’s safe to do so.
4. Roll back the plugin to a previous version
In some cases, WordPress plugin updates can break your site. For example, there might be a bug in the code or the update may conflict with another plugin or theme on your site. In this case, you can roll back the software to reverse the change.
If the update has broken your site, and you’re not able to access your dashboard, you’ll first need to deactivate the plugin. To do this, you’ll have to access your site files through the cPanel in your hosting account. Alternatively, you can connect to your site via a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) client.
Next, locate the root directory of your site. This is usually labeled public_html.
Then, open the wp-content folder and click on Plugins:
Here, find the plugin that caused your site to break and rename the folder to something like “pluginname-old.” This will automatically deactive the plugin, and you should now be able to access your site’s dashboard again.
To roll back to a previous version of the plugin, you can use a tool like WP Rollback:
Once you’ve installed the plugin, navigate to your Plugins page in WordPress. Now, you should see a Rollback link below each plugin:
Clicking on this link will take you to a page where you can roll back the plugin to a previous version. All you need to do is select your preferred version and click on Rollback.
5. Enable automatic updates for trusted plugins
The more plugins you have on your site, the more updates you’ll need to make. This task can be quite daunting, and you’ll need to remember to check your site for updates every day. That’s why you might want to enable automatic plugin updates in WordPress.
It’s important to note that automatic updates have both pros and cons, so we recommend only enabling automatic updates for plugins from developers that you trust.
If you want to enable automatic WordPress plugin updates, here’s how to do it…
Navigate to Plugins > Installed Plugins. Next to each plugin, you should see an Enable auto-updates option:
Once you select it, the setting should take effect immediately. WordPress will check for updates two times per day and automatically apply any available updates.
However, if you ever change your mind, simply select Disable auto-updates to reverse the change.
If you’re worried about automatic plugin updates breaking your site, you might want to choose a WordPress host with regression testing for plugin updates.
These hosts will compare a visual screenshot of your site before and after the update to detect issues automatically. If the host discovers an issue, it can automatically roll back those changes to ensure your site keeps working.
👉 Popular hosts that offer this type of functionality include the following:
6. Install a backup recovery plugin
When managing WordPress plugin updates, it’s a good idea to install a backup plugin if your host doesn’t already offer a functional backup and restore tool.
That way, should anything go wrong, you’ll be able to restore your website to a previous version.
This is especially important if you’re running updates on a live site. If you hit a bad update, your website may crash, and you can lose out on traffic and revenue.
Therefore, you can run updates with peace of mind when you use a backup plugin like UpdraftPlus:
With this tool, you can create fresh backups and restore your site in just a few clicks. It enables you to back up WordPress files, database tables, plugins, and themes, and store them in your preferred location. Better yet, you can automate the process, scheduling backups hourly, daily, or weekly.
Work more effectively with WordPress plugin updates
WordPress plugin updates are a key part of keeping your website safe and secure. They also enable you to access new features and maintain a smooth user experience. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to update plugins quickly and securely.
🔌 To recap, here are six tips to manage WordPress plugin updates:
To learn about WordPress core updates in general, 👨🎓 you also might be interested in our posts on 👉 how to update WordPress safely and how to manage automatic updates for the WordPress core.
Do you have any questions about WordPress plugin updates? Let us know in the comments section below!