How to update WordPress and WordPress plugins

 

What is the difference between WordPress and a WordPress Plugin

To keep your website running safely and smoothly, it is crucial that you update your version of WordPress and your WordPress plugins on a regular basis.  Even updating once a month can make a world of difference.  To help you get started, let me explain the difference between WordPress and WordPress Plugins.  Think of WordPress as a plain baked potato.  It is the bare, basic software that runs your website without any frills.  WordPress plugins are the ingredients you add to customize your website to your taste.

Why do I need to update WordPress?

WordPress is an open-source software, which means there are hundreds of people working on it from all over the world and anyone can use it for free.  WordPress releases updates on a fairly regular basis to (1) improve the software, (2) fix software bugs,  (3) add new features, and (4) to increase security.  In similar fashion to your virus scan software that has to update its database daily to keep up with new viruses, WordPress has to issue security releases to keep up with new virus and hacking threats.  How do you know when your WordPress software needs to be updated?  You will see it a notice on your website dashboard.

Why do I need to update my WordPress Plugins?

You need to update your plugins for the same reasons you update your WordPress software, i.e., security, bug fixes, and improvements, but also for another important reason.  As WordPress updates are applied plugin authors also release updates so their plugins will continue to work with the current WordPress version.  If you do not update your plugins after updating your WordPress software the plugin can become buggy or stop functioning altogether.  You will see a notice on your dashboard when plugin updates are available.

IMPORTANT!!! Before you update your WordPress software ALWAYS backup your website content

Just in case there are any issues while upgrading your software, you will want to make a backup copy of your website content.  The backup is stored on your computer and you can import it back into your website should you lose anything.  To run a backup :

 

  1.  From the menu on the left, hover your mouse over “tools”
  2.  From the flyout menu choose “export”
  3.  Make sure “All Content” is selected on the export page
  4.  Click “Export” and save the .xml file to your computer.

How to import a backup file into your website

  1.  From the menu on the left, hover your mouse over “tools”
  2.  From the flyout menu choose “import”
  3.  Browse to the file on your computer’s hard drive
  4.  Click “upload file and import”.

How to upgrade WordPress

Upgrading your WordPress version can be done automatically with the click of a button.  Your website will briefly go into “maintenance mode” while the upgrade is being applied.  You will see a notice when the upgrade is finished.  To start the upgrade click the “Please update now” link in the notice on your dashboard.  You will be taken to an upgrade screen where you will click the “update now” button.

Providing FTP  Information

Depending on the webhost you use, you may be prompted to enter your FTP information before you will be allowed to upgrade your WordPress software or WordPress Plugins.  This is a security measure.  If the screen appears, fill in your website address (if not already pre-filled), type in the FTP username and password provided to you in the login information you were sent, and click “proceed”.

How to upgrade WordPress Plugins

To upgrade your plugins hover your mouse over the “plugins” link and choose “all plugins”.  You will be taken to a page with a listing of all plugins that are installed on your website.  Plugins that have updates available are clearly marked.  Just choose the “update now” link and the updates will be applied automatically.  You may are may not be confronted with the FTP sign in screen shown above depending on your webhost.  If so, fill in the appropriate information and click “proceed”.

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