I can’t stress enough the importance of keeping your plugins updated. Not only is it a security issue, but it also makes sure your site continues to work correctly. I can’t tell you how many times a customer has contacted me because their site was not working correctly and it turned out to just be a plugin or theme that was not updated. And the good news is, updating plugins is easy to do! (most of the time!)
Here’s how to update your plugins:
1) First, make sure your site is working correctly.
If there’s already a problem, we want to make sure updating the plugins fixes it. If not, we want to know where we were before and what things we tried to fix it.
2) Make sure there is a recent backup (done since any changes were made)
For my customers, I use BackupBuddy, but Updraft is another great choice, and it’s free. You’ll want to make sure it’s a “complete” backup (as opposed to just the files or database) in case anything goes wrong. Most of the time nothing goes wrong, but you should always be prepared, just in case it does.
If using BackupBuddy, just go to BackupBuddy on the left hand menu.
If using Updraft, go to Settings > UpdraftPlus Backups, and then go to the Existing Backups tab
3) Go to Plugins in the left hand menu and find the plugins that need updating and click “update now”
4) Finally, check your site again to make sure everything is working correctly.
If you want to be extra cautious, check the site each time you update each plugin rather than waiting until you’ve updated them all. Pay attention to which plugin you are updating so you’ll know what to check to make sure it’s still working. Be sure to refresh your browser each time you check.
If you want to be super extra cautious, then I would take a screenshot of the plugins page before you do updates so you’ll know which version each plugin was at before it got updated. These are the types of precautions I take on sites that tend to be more troublesome, have especially old or customized code, or are on a poor hosting platform. Most sites rarely have problems.
If you do have problems.
If you do have problems, there are lots of courses of actions.
1) Check the plugin site to see if other people have had the same problem and if there is a fix. If not, post your problem there. I’ve worked with a lot of great plugin authors (yes even free plugins), that have gotten back to me quickly. If it’s a paid plugin, then they should definitely get back to you, or you should change plugins.
2) Google your problem to see if someone has posted an answer in another forum.
3) Contact a professional (like me) to help you.
4) Use your backup to roll your site back to the old version, or contact your hosting company to roll your site back to the old version. Note: It’s of utmost importance that you figure out the problem and don’t leave your site with old code. This leaves it open to security risks.
Good luck with maintaining your site and, as always, I look forward to hearing from you!