How to Keep Your WordPress Plugins Updated

One of the best parts of WordPress is its massive ecosystem of plugins. In fact, as of right now, there are more than 50,000 free add-ons available on the WordPress.org plugin repository.

Given how user-friendly plugins are, it’s not uncommon to end up with dozens of them. Each one might be specifically chosen and configured for your needs.But with all the positive aspects of using plugins, there can be some pain points as well. The biggest pain point is probably keeping up with all the updates that become available.

This might lead you to ask questions like: “do I need to run plugin updates?” “How often should my plugins be updated?” Or: “are there any tools that help make plugin updates easier or more efficient?” In short, the answers are: yes, it depends, and you bet!

Read on to learn about the importance of plugin updates, how to update your plugins, and when (and how) to use automatic updates to help manage your site.

Why plugin updates matter

If you’re wondering whether plugin updates are worth the effort, the short answer is yes.

Let’s go a little more in-depth by talking about the three most common reasons why plugin updates become available. They are:

  1. Performance improvements are made by the developer(s) — ex. increased speed.
  2. There are new features added to the plugin — ex. a new menu or export functionality.
  3. A security vulnerability or exploit was discovered and fixed.

You might have read this list and thought to yourself, “I don’t mind if I miss out on some new features or a performance improvement.” This is an argument that you might make if you have a lot of plugins installed, and running site updates takes a long time. Or you might be happy with the way a particular plugin is working for you already, and just don’t need new features.

That being said, when it comes to site security, you really can’t afford to waiver. The problem doesn’t lie with the number of plugins installed — it’s letting them become outdated, giving potential attackers opportunities to exploit security weaknesses.

The easier way to update your plugins: automatically

Updates should be made as often as they become available. If you manually run plugin updates, make it a daily habit to check your plugins for available updates to ensure that you’re running the latest and greatest versions of each plugin on your site.

If this sounds like a hassle, you might wonder whether there’s a way to automate this process. There has to be an easier way, right?

You’re in luck — there is.

If you’re using Jetpack, you can activate Automatic Plugin Updates. Instead of manually checking for updates and spending the time to run them on your site(s), you can select individual plugins to update automatically. This becomes especially useful if you maintain multiple sites or run a single site with a large number of plugins.

My Plugins

Jetpack’s Automatic Plugin Updates feature will save you time while keeping your site secure.

When to use (or to avoid) automatic updates

Now that you know about automatic updates, it might be tempting to enable them for every plugin across each of your sites. After all, it creates less work for you — what could be better than that?

Most of the time, enabling automatic updates is the right choice, but there are some exceptions. Depending on your individual site’s configuration and the plugin in question, you may want to run some updates manually.

Imaging that you’re running a WooCommerce store and you worked with a developer to incorporate custom functionality for when a new order is placed. In this scenario, you’re running custom code that may conflict with changes to WooCommerce core. For this reason, it might make sense to manually update the  WooCommerce plugin so you can verify that nothing breaks your custom code.

Another scenario is if you have a plugin (or group of plugins) that enhance another plugin. For example, you may have a basic form plugin with an add-on that syncs your form submissions with an email application like MailChimp. If an update is released that modifies how your form plugin functions, an automatic update could temporarily break the MailChimp add-on.

In cases like these, you may want to disable automatic plugin updates, which you can do by toggling off Autoupdates below the plugin in question in your Installed Plugins list via the WordPress.com editor.

Disable automatic updates for individual plugins to handle them manually.

Stay updated and keep your site secure

Is your site running any outdated add-ons? This might be the perfect time to set up Jetpack’s Automatic Updates and get your plugins in working order!

Share your experiences using Jetpack’s automatic plugin update feature, or any other tips and tricks for updating your WordPress plugins, in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you!

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Comments

  1. There have been a number of reports in the past few months of new owners of plugins introducing malicious code. WP does its best to get these out of the WP repository, but maybe there is a case for site owners to check their plugins haven’t changed hands, and to do that before they update rather than updating automatically. What do you think of that take on things?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeremy says:

      That’s indeed an option, but not all site owners can remember the original owners of each one of the plugins they’ve installed on their site.

      A possible alternative could be to use a security scanning solution that would keep an eye on all your plugins and contact you whenever something malicious came up within a recently updated plugin. That is what Jetpack’s Security scanning tools do, but there are also other solutions out there! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Stephen Pett says:

    Some plugin authors have learned to trick Jetpack into highlighting that an update is needed when all they are trying to do is get you to look at an advert, and you have to login to the sites individually. GRRRR

    Liked by 1 person

  3. But you have to be careful. I just updated my plugins and my site crashed. Seem one of the plugins was not tested with latest version of WordPress. Make sure you can identify which plugin failed and have a way to restore that single plugin. I use BackupBuddy.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Examzip says:

    My Site’s Plugin always automatically updated, but sometimes there is a bug in any one plugin left behind and then i have to update that plugin again.. for example Yoast released a update and but when they found a bug in new update they again released a new update. So i don’t want to automatically updates on my wordpress site.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. There is I am getting troubles with some plug-ins when I update it. Losing some data or if you forget to update it will effect to the settings.

    Like

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