Managing Updates

In this session, we are going to learn how to identify when updates are available for a WordPress site and how to run those updates.

Learning outcomes

  1. Explain the three components of WordPress that may require updates.
  2. Identify when updates are available and where to go to make those updates.
  3. Recognize the need to make a backup of your site before updating it.
  4. Updating WordPress Core, plugins and themes.

Comprehension questions

  1. What can happen if you do not update your site?
  2. Do you know how to backup your website?


Welcome to Learn WordPress. The question we are asking today, is what are updates and why do we need them? Updates to any software are released for three reasons. Number one, to fix security vulnerabilities. Two, to fix bugs that have been discovered in the code. And lastly, to add new features. We need to consistently install the updates that are available for our sites because all sites need security patches so that they are not vulnerable to known hacks. Additionally, all sites benefit from bug fixes because then they are running off a more stable codebase.

There are three components of your WordPress site that may require updates: WordPress Core, themes and plugins. You will be able to tell that there are updates available for your site in a few key places. Firstly, there will be a banner at the top of your administration page to alert you of any updates. Secondly, if you click on Updates within the WordPress admin, you will be able to view all your updates in one place. Plugins can also be administered from the plugins screen, you can go there by clicking on the Plugins button in the left side navigation. Once on this page, you will see a list of all the plugins that are installed and ready to be updated on your website, whether they are activated or not. When a new version of WordPress is available, there will also be a notification at the top left of your Dashboard, as well as the top banner and next to updates.

If we make our way to updates, we will see a very important message; “Before updating, please backup your database and files.” Backup simply means saving a copy of your site on a particular date and keeping it safe. If you have a backup, you can restore your website to its previous state if there are any issues when upgrading. You can learn more about making backups below resources. Two simple options, for example, are installing a backup plugin or logging into your hosting dashboard and following the quick steps to back it up there. It is therefore advised to backup your site before running any updates.

Now that I have backed up my site, I can go ahead and install the new version of WordPress. I will make my way to the updates page and click on Update to the new version, and now I know my website is safe and up to date. And lastly, we will update our themes and plugins. Once again, I will make my way to the updates page. I will scroll down to plugins, tick the Select All box and click on Update plugins. Once all my plugins are updated, I will return to the updates page. Scroll down to themes, tick the Select All box and click on Update themes. Once my themes are updated I can go back to the updates page and we will see that WordPress Core, plugins and themes are all up to date.

One last thing we want to talk about is enabling auto-updates. If you would like to enable auto-updates for WordPress Core, make your way to updates and click on Enable automatic updates for all new versions of WordPress. If you would like a theme to be auto-updated, make your way to Appearance, click on Themes, select the theme and click on Enable auto-updates. And finally, to auto-update plugins, make your way to plugins, and on the right-hand side, select Enable auto-updates.

That wraps it up for WordPress updates. Visit Learn WordPress for more workshops and training material.

Workshop Details


Wes Theron

I am an Instructional Designer for the WordPress open-source project sponsored by Automattic. I am a strong supporter of the open-source movement. I have a background in education and content development. I am a husband, father, dreamer and lifelong learner.