When the developers release security updates or enhance functionality, the WordPress platform and plugins will need to be updated. Outdated and vulnerable software is a security risk and one of the top reasons for WordPress sites getting hacked. It is super important to keep WordPress and all themes and plugins updated to the latest versions.
WordPress provides automatic background updates for security releases. You will still need to update major releases manually. Only core WordPress files will be included in automatic updates, not themes or plugins. You will get an email notification when your site has undergone an automatic update, equally you will receive an email notification if an automatic update fails.
When updating here are the stages you should follow:
1: Back Up Your Website
There are plenty of plugins you can use. If I built your site you should have BackupBuddy installed already. On rare occasions things can go wrong when updating and so it is really important to make sure you have a backup.
2: Turn Caching Off
Deactivate your caching plugin if you have one. In most cases this will be W3 Total Cache, Super Cache, or Quick Cache.
3: Carry Out Your Updates
To update your WordPress version manually or to update your themes and plugins, click the Updates link underneath the Dashboard menu on the left hand side.
The Updates page is divided into three sections. If WordPress itself requires updating, this will be displayed at the top of the page. Next you will see any available plugin updates followed by available theme updates.
To update your WordPress installation simply click the Update Now button. WordPress will download and validate the necessary files and update your website.
To update plugins, tick the boxes and click the Update Plugins button. The new files will be downloaded, validated and installed.
To update themes, tick the boxes and click the Update Themes button. The new files will be downloaded, validated and installed.
5: Reactivate Your Caching Plugin
Reactivate your caching plugin and clear out/purge the cache.
6: Check Your Site
Take a minute to look over your site and visit a few pages and posts. If something isn’t working properly, it is best to catch it now instead of later.