More plugins, more problems? Not really, however having more plugins does necessitate more updates, and staying on top of those updates can be vital to the performance and security of your website.
Depending on your availability of time resources and your level of experience, there are several ways to ensure you keep up with the latest WordPress plugin updates; to help you out, we will now cover each of them.
Why We Need to Update
Before we dive into the how, let’s consider the why. If your website plugins are working fine, why do we to continuously update them? Not all updates are meant to solely repair a problem or address an underlying performance issue, although fixing bugs is unfortunately a frequent driver. However, updates also frequently introduce new features, improve functionality, and increase security. All said and done, updates provide:
• Added new features
• Security enhancements
• Repairs for bugs or software glitches
• Speed and performance improvements
How to Update WordPress Plugins
Now that we have covered the why, let’s go over the how. In general, there are two ways you can go about keeping your plugins up to date, either have them update automatically or complete the process manually. Let’s explore the steps in further detail.
1. Automatic WordPress Updates
If you are the type of individual who neither has the time nor the expertise to manage manual updates, you don’t need to worry; it can all be taken care of for you with a few simple clicks.
Within WordPress, you can simply enable automatic updates from the settings page: Settings » Automatic Plugin Updates. From here, you can select the specific plugins you wish to have automatically updated, as well as turn on email notifications to keep you posted on updates that are occurring.
There are also other options. Using a site management tool – yes, there is a plugin for managing your plugins – you can have all your plugins update automatically. JetPack and Easy Updates Manager are two good examples that allow you to customize you updates and even select the types of updates you wish to automate and those you do not. For example, you may want to install major release updates only and leave minor ones on hold.
1.2 Automatic Updates with Code Snippet
You can also manage automatic updates by adding a simple line of code to your theme’s functions.php file:
add_filter( ‘auto_update_plugin’, ‘__return_true’ );
This may be a solution if you have many plugins and want to have them all updated automatically, without selecting each one individually.
2. Manual WordPress Plugin Updates
If you prefer to review an update before it is installed, you may want to manually install your updates. There are several steps in this process:
• Visit the WordPress plugin page or third party source and download the plugin .zip file.
• Extract the .zip file and put it somewhere easily accessible, like on your desktop
• Connect to your site’s server using a File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
• Navigate to the wp-content/plugins folder and either delete or rename the folder of the plugin you’re updating (you can return and delete it later if you prefer)
• Find the extracted plugin folder you just downloaded and right click and select upload
• Login to your WordPress dashboard to ensure the plugin is active and functioning correctly
This process may appear more laborious than it actually is. Once you have downloaded the required plugin update and extracted the zip file, you need to connect to your website using an FTP client. An FTP is required to upload files to WordPress and there are several good options available, including WinSCP, Cyberduck, and Transmit (Mac only).
After that, the process is relatively straightforward. Locate your wp-content/plugins folder and complete the steps outlined above.
Knowledge of how to perform a manual update is not only good for those who like to be more hands on with their plugins, but also for managing the occasional errors that occur during automatic updates.