Did you notice a message at the top of your WordPress dashboard this week, telling you that WordPress 5.0 is available?
Complete with a command to “Please update now.”? The “please” softens it a bit, but it’s still a command.
This is WordPress’s way of helpfully notifying you that a new version is available. In this post, I’ll illustrate how easy it is to update WordPress, right from your dashboard.
You can also download my free 10-step WordPress Update Checklist for tips on pre- and post-update maintenance tasks that will keep your site in tip-top condition, or join my Peace of Mind Program to have me take care of all your WordPress updates for you.
Step 1: Back up your stuff.
Before you go clicking on the update link, it’s a really good idea to have a backup. Fortunately, plugins like BackupBuddy (paid, and that’s an affiliate link because I use BackupBuddy on every single site I manage and recommend it highly) or UpdraftPlus (free) make creating a backup straightforward and easy. Go back up your entire site before you read further. I’ll wait.
Ready to proceed? Got your backup stashed on your local computer (not the server)? Good. Now you can click that handy link.
Step 2. Click “Please update now.” at the top of your screen
You’ll be taken to a screen labeled “WordPress Updates”. There’s a note here about how it’s important to back up your database and files. Don’t you feel smart for already having that part taken care of?
Step 3. Click the button labeled “Update Now”.
I won’t bore you too much with old-fogy tales of how, back in the pre-WordPress 2.7 days, we file-wranglers had to download the new version files manually, unzip them, and use FTP to install them (you young whippersnappers don’t appreciate the troubles we faced in those days… we walked five miles to school in the snow! Uphill! Both ways!).
Let’s just say a big group Thank You to WordPress for giving us the magic “Update Now” button. Yes, it’s truly automatic. One click does it all.
Step 4: Wait until you see “WordPress upgraded successfully” and are redirected to the credits page.
This may take a moment or two. Don’t click on anything until you see “Welcome to WordPress” message at the top of your screen. That’s it! You’re now free to move about your dashboard (Ding! In just a few moments our flight attendants will be coming through the cabin with a complimentary beverage service.).
Just because an update becomes available, should I install it?
In general, yes. WordPress publishes updates for a reason, usually improved features, improved security, or both. And you probably want these things.
However, if you are using a lot of plugins, you may want to wait a few days to give the plugin developers time to test their plugins with the new WordPress release, and if needed, release plugin updates. Then, after you update WordPress, you’ll want to update any plugins that have new versions available.
Another reason to update (fairly) promptly is that you want to install each update as it’s available, instead of waiting through several versions and installing them all at once. If you do installations one step at a time, there are fewer chances for things to go wrong. Yes, you can wait and batch-upgrade, and I’ve seen it work just fine in the vast majority of cases. But why tempt fate?
Download my free 10-step WordPress Update Checklist for tips on pre- and post-update maintenance tasks that will keep your site in tip-top condition, or join my Peace of Mind Program to have me take care of all your WordPress updates for you.