It is really important to keep your WordPress site upgraded – those dang hackers and all. The most recent upgrades are very important as WordPress is starting to pivot from being a blog platform to an application framework. In other words there’s some cool new functionality in there, especially for API type guys! Upgrading your site can be a bit nerve wracking. After 7 years of running my blog ( with nearly 10 million unique IPs checking it out) I think I’ve got the upgrade down to a science. Here’s my tips and process for surviving the upgrade process.
How to Upgrade
- Document any customizations you have made to your site or theme.
- Read the changelog. Know what is changing and where.
- Setup a test server so that you can actually test the upgrade.
- Ensure you can access the file system on your host provider before you get started.
- Install a backup plugin and capture at least 3 good backups. I’ve use Backup to Dropbox and UpDraftPlus. Recommend the latter. Really check it out and make sure it is working. Look at the database backup and search for words and phases from posts. Check the image uploads folders to makes sure they are complete.
- Restore the backup on your local test server and test the upgrade here first.
- On your main site consider removing all the plugins you are not actually using – delete them I mean.
- Using a tool that can connect to your DB, take a manual backup of it.
- Open another web browser and login to the admin panel and go to the plugins screen. I’ve noticed sometimes that a plugin conflict can cause the whole WP install to not work. Sitting on the plugins screen in the alternate browser allows you to kill plugins until things work again.
- Go back to your primary browser and apply the update.
- Check to make sure the site is up and visible.
- Clear any performance caches that you have.
- Re-apply any customizations that you have to your site or theme.
- If you have Yoast or another SEO tool installed you might want to check those as well. Clear, re-build, etc.
With all that in hand I seem to be having pretty good luck with updates lately on WordPress. Seems like a lot, but its worth it instead of scrambling around when something goes wrong. All that being said things can still go wrong. Best advice is to remain calm and use the community if things don’t go right.