Updating WordPress

WordPress can bring such reliability to your website you may easily forget that it is a platform which is actively maintained and is in constant development. WordPress releases regular updates to their software, including security patches, and even provides the tools to quickly and easily update your site to the most recent version.

Sometimes the changes to WordPress will contain major functionality changes and even new features. When this happens it will be referred to as an upgrade. This will usually happen once a year, though sometimes it may be less frequent.

This article will address the following topics:


Should I Update WordPress?

Yes. You may be skeptical of this answer as it is simple and straightforward, and it is exceedingly rare to be able to provide such a ubiquitous answer for such complicated issues. However, in this case the answer is simply and unequivocally yes.

Click the link below to expand a more detailed explanation of why:

Reasons to Always Update Wordpress

What Problems Can Upgrading Cause?

It is important to know that quite a lot can go wrong when you update your WordPress. Plugins or themes that are not actively maintained by the developer could potentially cause errors that prevent your WordPress site from loading.

Caching services, plugins, or even your browser may store data from your website from prior to the update that may do anything from causing visual issues with your theme to preventing your site from displaying information or even loading.

Fortunately, there are some common troubleshooting step that will help a vast majority of users easily identify the source of their issue so that they can fix it and proceed with the update. For assistance with this, please see below See Below.

A small group of users may find that a theme or plugin that is essential to their site is incompatible with the upgrade. These users may ask if they should still upgrade their site given the expense and difficulty of working around core utilities not working.

The answer is still unequivocally yes, though it may require some development to do so correctly.

If components to your site do not function, first restore your site from a backup. Then we recommend taking steps to find replacements for these components so that you may update as fast as possible.

Click below to expand more information on why you should not use an out dated version of WordPress for compatibility reasons:

Why Not Just Keep Using an Old WordPress Version for Compatibility?

What Should I do Before Updating?

As with any other change to your site, HostGator strongly recommends creating a backup of your site which you can restore from if anything goes wrong. The following article will walk you through making a full cPanel backup:

If you wish to be ready at all times by using automated backups that regularly save revisions of your site that you can restore at the click of a button, check out CodeGuard service:

After creating a backup of your site, go ahead and perform the update knowing that if anything goes wrong you'll be able to restore from your backup as an option.

Okay, I'm Ready. How do I Update WordPress?

After ensuring that you are ready to update WordPress, there are 3 methods by which WordPress can be updated:

Automatic Background Updates

In an effort to promote better security on the internet and improved site management practices, automatic updates are enabled by default. For WordPress 3.7 and higher, then your site should be able to update from 3.7 to 3.7.1, 3.7.2, etc.

For security purposes, HostGator runs a script on our servers that also automates updates which cannot be disabled completely. However, you may mitigate the automatic updates by disabling the ones performed specifically by your WordPress installation.

It is strongly advised that you do not disable these automatic security updates. However, if you need to delay automatic updates, please click the link below to expand instructions for how:

How to Delay Automatic Updates

One-click Update

Note: This feature was added in 2.7, so if you are using an older version, you will need to follow the steps to update manually.

Modern versions of WordPress let you update with just one click from the updates menu:

  1. From the WordPress Dashboard, select Updates from the left hand menu.
  2. Click the Update Now button.

You shouldn't need to do anything else and, once it's finished, you will be up-to-date.

Manual Update

Click below to expand instructions for how to manually install WordPress updates:

How to Manually Update WordPress

What if Something Goes Wrong?

The first thing to remember when something after an update is Don't Panic! The vast majority of issues with updates can be resolved with some simple troubleshooting. Remember to always try the following steps first (Or don't remember and come re-read this article whenever you need to. We'll be here.):

Note: If you have lost access to your WordPress dashboard, the following article will allow you to modify WordPress, themes, and plugins from the command line:
  • Ensure you have updated all of your plugins and themes to the most recent version.
  • If you have a caching plugin, ensure any caching is cleared to force all pages to be re-generated.
  • Clear your browser cache and cookies. Click here for more information.
  • If you are using a CDN, such as SiteLock, flush your CDN cache.
  • Log back into your WordPress dashboard.

These simple steps will resolve the vast majority of issues, as they will be likely caused by caching issues between the site before and after being updated. If this does not work, or if you are unable to perform these steps, continue to the more drastic options below:

Note: If you do not already have a backup of your site from before the upgrade, please create one before these troubleshooting steps.
  • Disable ALL of your plugins: Any one of your plugins could cause your issue. You will need to disable all of them. If the issue is resolved, re-activate them one at a time until you identify the specific plugin that is not functional.
  • Switch to the default WordPress theme: The following article will walk you through changing your WordPress theme to the most recent default:
  • If you cannot switch themes: Use FTP to remove all theme folders except for the default theme you need to switch to, forcing it to load.
  • Update WordPress Manually: If all else fails, please attempt to manually update WordPress.

    NOTE: Do not delete the wp-content directory or your wp-config.php file when following these directions.
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