This post is part of my WordPress Essentials Toolkit — a collection of the most important basic steps to maintaining a WordPress site. Get a free copy of this helpful 28-page PDF by subscribing to my Weekly Web Tips!
I’ve already described how to install a WordPress plugin from within WordPress.
Now that you have your plugins installed and happily plugging along, it won’t be long before a little red circle with a white number in it appears next to the word “Plugins” in your WordPress navigation (as shown in Figure 1). Perhaps it’s already appeared for you.
Don’t be alarmed. This is just WordPress helpfully notifying you that one of your installed plugins has a new version available, and that you can update if you wish.
You don’t have to rush to install upgdates the instant you’re notified, but since new updates contain new features and sometimes even security fixes, I generally advise updating before too long. Sometimes I wait a few days and batch-update (yes, I have a lot of plugins).
It’s even easier than installing the plugin in the first place. Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Go to your Manage Plugin screen to see which plugins are available for update
Plugins with new versions available will be highlighted with a pinkish color. There will also be two useful links: “View version Details” (which triggers a pop-up window with information about the updated version) and “Update now” (which is what you want to click when you’re ready to begin the update).
Step 2. Click “Update Now”
This immediately begins the update process. You’ll see the Update Plugin page shown in Figure 3. The status messages will appear one by one (usually in a matter of seconds). When you see “Plugin reactivated successfully,” that’s it, you’re done.
But what if it doesn’t work?
In rare cases, reinstallation or reactivation will fail. Instead of the success message, you get red letters telling you that plugin reactivation failed (and sometimes an incomprehensible reason or error code).
Again, don’t panic. The simplest thing to try is to wait five minutes and try again.
If that doesn’t work, try going to your Manage Plugins screen and uninstalling the plugin (click the small blue “delete” link underneath the plugin’s name. If you don’t see “delete”, you’ll need to deactivate the plugin first).
Then start from scratch and install the plugin as if you’d never seen it before. This will install the latest version, as if you’d completed a successful update.
This method has always worked for me (the few times I’ve had an upgrade fail). I hope it always works for you. But if you have questions, feel free to contact me.