How to update your WordPress website in 2022

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Kelly Sparkes Opal and Onyx Founder

Hi, I’m Kelly and I help female entrepreneurs¬†translate their brand and message into a beautiful, responsive website, optimised to draw in and convert their ideal customer.

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If you don’t keep your WordPress website up to date then you’re at risk of being hacked, or your site slowing down, or even breaking all together.

Hey, everyone, I’m Kelly Sparkes, and today, I’m going to teach you how to update your WordPress website to keep it protected and running smoothly.

I think you know that I’m a massive WordPress fan, especially if you’ve watched any of my other videos; I think it’s fantastic! It’s flexible, it gives you complete control over your website, and it allows your website to grow with your business. However, having that control also brings with it the responsibility of keeping it up to date.

Outdated code or files pose a security risk, and they open the doors for hackers, but you don’t need to worry; keeping your website updated is easy if you do it regularly. I update my client’s websites at least once a week. And it’s great if you can do that too, but if not, try to do it at least monthly.

Updates in WordPress

Let’s have a look at WordPress. Okay, so if we come over to my YouTube demo website, you can see down here on the left-hand side, it says ‘update 5, and it also says ‘5’ up here next to these little updating arrows. If you click on either of those, you’ll be able to see everything that needs updating in the website.

I frequently do power hours with clients who are looking to update their own websites, but they just want that bit of security of having me there, and the most frequent question I get asked is ‘which one should I update first, I don’t know where to start?’ There is no official rules for this, but I find what works for me is to update the plugins first because then they’re updated to the level of WordPress that you’re on, then I update WordPress to the latest version, then I update the themes, and finally, any translations that come up. You may find, after you’ve updated WordPress, that your plugins are available to update again. If that happens, I just do another round of plugin updates, if necessary.

You can see here that my WordPress version is up to date, but I’ve got five plugins that need updating. If I scroll down here, I can see all of the plugins that need updating.¬†

Backing up with UpdraftPlus

Now, before I do any updates whatsoever on my website, I always run a backup first. Even if you’re backing up every night or your host is backing up for you, it is worth running your own backup so that you know that it is done literally just before you do your updates and also so you can easily restore it.

I use something called UpdraftPlus for this and I’ve got a whole video about how to set that up, so go and have a look at that, but come over here into ‘Settings’ and then ‘UpdraftPlus Backups’ (if you’ve got it installed, if you haven’t, go off and install it, look at my other video). Then you can come in here and you can say ‘back up now’. I just click that, back up everything, and here I’m sending this to remote storage, which is much better than backing up to your web server. I click ‘Backup Now’, and then we’re going to wait until that’s finished so the backup’s fully completed before starting any updates at all.

The backup is finished so we can close that, and now I can go back and start my updates. If I click on… actually we click on ‘updates’ rather than that, because if you click on ‘Plugins’, it just shows you the plugins that you need to update.

Updating WordPress

The first section here is about WordPress updates. Now you can see here that this site is actually up to date, so I can’t show you how to update WordPress but basically, if it wasn’t, it would look like this and you would be able to click on the button to update it to the latest version. I did try and roll back WordPress for you so I could show you how to do this, but unfortunately or fortunately, the hosting that I use is so secure and protects my websites from having the wrong version of WordPress, I couldn’t do it.

Updating Plugins

First thing to do is the plugins and what I would do, is do them one at a time, and you literally click on the plugin that you want to update. I clicked ‘Elementor’ there and then click on ‘Update Plugins’. It’s very tempting to select them all and click ‘Update’, especially if you’ve got a lot and you haven’t updated for a while; you might have 20 updates. I’ve seen websites like that before when I’ve got it from a new client. In that case, it’s very tempting to just say, ah, “tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, update”, and WordPress does allow you to do that. However, you then don’t know which plugin caused a problem, if there was a problem. What I like to do is do it one at a time, and then what I do is I just go to my website and check it still works. Obviously, this is just a demo website, so it doesn’t have much in it, but if it was your website, I’d go through and check everything works. If it was something like, you’ve updated a form plugin, I would test your form to make sure that that works. You see, this is a very basic website, but it’s still working, it’s not broken, and now if I come back here, you can see I’ve now got four plugin updates to do, and here they are. I do the next one and then just go through them all.

Updating Themes & Translations

Now, if I had any themes to update, then the themes would be shown here, but I don’t have any that are out of date, then underneath that would be translation, so they all work exactly the same way: you just click on it and click ‘update’, but again, just do them one at a time.

And that’s it! So easy to make sure that your website is kept updated, and like I said before, if you do it, or at least try and do it, once a week, then you’ll come in here and there’ll only be a couple of updates, and it’ll be easy. If you can’t do it once a week, then maybe once a month, and if it extends out longer than that, then just try to do it as regularly as you can, because the longer you leave it, the more likely your website is to be exposed to hackers, and also your website could break when you do update it.

Thank you so much for watching. I hope you feel empowered to go off and update your own website. However, if you’re feeling a little bit worried about this or any aspect of maintaining your website, then come over to my website and sign up for the wait list for my workshop, “Spring clean your WordPress website with me”, where I’ll be on hand if you need some guidance or help while you do it.

Before you go, please don’t forget to like and subscribe, and then you’ll be notified when my next video comes out and I’ll see you again soon.

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