How to Update Plugins

WordPress plugins are essential software components that add specific functionalities and features to your WordPress website. They enhance and extend the capabilities of your website, allowing you to customize it according to your needs without having to write custom code from scratch. Plugins can cover a wide range of functionalities, including SEO optimization, contact forms, e-commerce, security, social media integration, and much more. Some you need to pay for and some are free. These pieces of code need to be updated regularly to keep your website running smoothly.

Here’s an explanation of what WordPress plugins are and how to safely update them on your website:

What Are WordPress Plugins?

WordPress plugins are pieces of code that can be easily added to your WordPress website to add or enhance specific features and functionalities. They are like apps for your website, extending its capabilities without altering the core WordPress software. Here are some key points about plugins:

  1. Customization: Plugins allow you to tailor your website to your specific needs. Instead of writing complex code, you can simply install a plugin that already provides the desired functionality.

  2. Diverse Functionality: The WordPress plugin repository contains thousands of free and premium plugins, covering a wide array of functionalities, from SEO optimization and security to e-commerce and content management.

  3. Easy Installation: Installing a plugin is typically straightforward. You can search for and install plugins directly from your WordPress admin dashboard.

  4. Regular Updates: To keep your website secure and functioning optimally, it’s important to keep your plugins up to date. Developers often release updates to address security issues, improve performance, and add new features.

Safely Updating WordPress Plugins

Updating your WordPress plugins is essential for maintaining the security and performance of your website. Here are steps to safely update your plugins:

  1. Backup Your Website: Before making any updates, it’s crucial to create a backup of your website. This is your safety net in case something goes wrong during the update process. You can use backup plugins or your hosting provider’s backup tools to perform this task.

  2. Check for Updates: In your WordPress dashboard, go to the “Plugins” section. Here, you will see a list of all the plugins installed on your website. If there are updates available for any plugins, you’ll see a notification with the number of updates.

  3. Review Plugin Compatibility: Before updating, check if the new plugin versions are compatible with your current WordPress version. Incompatibilities can sometimes cause issues on your site.

  4. Update One at a Time: It’s generally a good practice to update plugins one at a time, rather than updating all of them simultaneously. This way, if there are any issues, you can pinpoint the problematic plugin more easily.

  5. Test After Each Update: After updating a plugin, test your website to ensure that it’s functioning as expected. Pay close attention to any areas of your site that are affected by the updated plugin’s functionality.

  6. Update Regularly: Keep an eye on plugin updates and try to update them regularly. Outdated plugins can pose a security risk, so it’s important not to neglect this task.

  7. Delete Unused Plugins: If you have plugins that are no longer in use, it’s a good idea to delete them. Unused plugins can still pose a security risk, even if they’re deactivated.

  8. Use Reliable Sources: Only download and update plugins from reputable sources, such as the official WordPress plugin repository or well-known third-party developers. Avoid downloading plugins from suspicious websites.

  9. Keep WordPress Core Updated: In addition to updating plugins, it’s crucial to keep your WordPress core software up to date. Regular WordPress updates often include security patches.

  10. Security and Monitoring: Consider using security plugins or services to regularly scan your website for vulnerabilities and suspicious activities. These can help you identify and address security issues promptly.

By following these steps, you can safely update your WordPress plugins, ensuring that your website remains secure, functional, and up-to-date with the latest features and improvements. While updates are crucial, they should be approached with caution to avoid potential issues or conflicts with your website’s existing components. It’s also okay to wait a week or so once you see a plugin that needs an update, because this allows the developers to work out any issues in the code after a new update is released.

Feeling overwhelmed by plugin updates? Wheel Horse Digital can help! Our WordPress website hosting and maintenance plans take care of this for you, leaving you more time to focus on your business! 

I’ve been riding my whole life, and like to take my horse Lilly out on trail rides behind our house – along with our two goats!

-Emily King, owner