The Importance Of Updating WordPress
Millions of people all over the world utilise the WordPress content management system (often referred to as CMS) to easily update and manage their websites. making it one of the most popular and widely used platforms in existence.
If you’re a WordPress user, you’ve probably seen a message at the top of your administration dashboard, reading something like ‘WordPress 3.3.1 is available! Please notify the site administrator’. This notification lets you know that there’s a new version of WordPress available and should prompt an immediate upgrade. However, not everyone pays attention to these messages, often choosing to stick with an older version of the CMS. There are lots of reasons why people don’t update their WordPress version (fear of losing data or functionality, familiarity with an older version, etc), meaning tens of thousands of sites and blogs all over the world end up running an out-of-date CMS. So why should you update your version of WordPress?
Without a doubt the primary consideration when updating your CMS is security. The ever-growing popularity of WordPress makes it a prime target for hackers looking to exploit weaknesses in the platform in order to gain access to your website – a particularly pertinent concern if you run a high-profile website or an e-commerce platform. Security is often the driving force behind WordPress updates, as the newer versions will generally be far more secure than previous versions (as the developers fix weaknesses in the platform). By not updating, you’re leaving yourself and your website open to hackers – particularly given the fact that WordPress will announce what has been fixed in recent updates, giving hackers an idea of weaknesses in previous versions.
It’s worth noting that the same can be said for plugins – an out-of-date plugin can be exploited by hackers to gain entry (or add malicious code) to your website, even if you’ve got the most recent version of WordPress. As a result, you should ensure you update all installed plugins (where applicable) at the same time as updating your version of WordPress.
Whilst security is without question the main reason to update your CMS, it’s not the only consideration. Never versions of WordPress will contain bug fixes, improved functionality and new features, as well as ongoing support from the developers. If you’re running an old version of WordPress (or a specific plugin) and you’re experiencing bugs or issues you can’t solve, many developers won’t help you until you update to the newest version (which, ironically will often solve the problem anyway).
So make sure you regularly update your CMS and all installed plugins, keeping you and your visitors safe from hackers, bugs and malicious coding. It’s worth noting that you should also take regular backups of your website (particularly before updating), allowing you to revert back should you encounter a problem with upgrading.