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How Often Should I Update My WordPress Core and Plugins?

A neglected WordPress site is bad news, especially if it’s an important part of your business. Keeping your website healthy and firing on all cylinders means less trouble for your team and your visitors. Website maintenance is more than just checking broken links and site analytics. Two of the most important things you can do for your website’s health are WordPress core updates and plugin updates. These updates are often overlooked or even ignored, which can lead to anything from a slower admin interface to an infected site that’s riddled with viruses and malware.

So, how often should you update your WordPress core and plugins? As often as possible! Let’s look at some of the benefits of a well-kept and properly updated site, and see why focusing on these updates will keep your site healthy in the long run (at least until the next update).

Five Benefits of an Updated Website

1. Tighter Security

39.5% of all websites are WordPress, according to the SearchEngine Journal.

With WordPress commanding such a large market share, there will always be threats from hackers and spammers. Hackers can steal information, display inappropriate content against your will, or take down the site completely. Just like your website, hackers and malware are constantly evolving. To fight back, WordPress releases periodic core updates that will ensure your site’s defenses are up-to-date with no exploitable vulnerabilities. The more updates there are, the safer your site becomes. So, just as we wouldn’t miss a day brushing our teeth in fear of cavities, you can’t skip a core update without risking your site’s health.

Similar to how core updates protect the heart of your website, plugin and theme updates protect the integrations and advanced functionalities of it. According to WPScan, 52% of WordPress vulnerabilities were related to outdated WordPress plugins, while outdated WordPress themes caused 11% of the vulnerabilities. It’s not surprising, then, that according to WPBeginner, 86% of hacked WordPress websites contained outdated versions of WordPress plugins and themes.

2. Bug Fixes

Sometimes, you may see things like a broken link, missing images, a slideshow no longer displaying, or a section of content that isn’t fitting on the page. Many times, issues like these on your website have a simple solution: Update! Plugins, themes, and WordPress need to work together to keep your website running smoothly, and leaving one behind can cause all of them to act up. Sometimes the problems on your website are caused by something bigger, but oftentimes, a simple update will do the trick.

3. Compatibility

Your website won’t work as intended until your plugins, themes, and WordPress core play nice with one another. Plugin and theme developers often coordinate their updates around WordPress core updates to ensure they take advantage of any new features, and to make it as easy as possible for you to get everything up to date and working again. Browser updates and other server-related features may also cause problems if the site is not updated to properly communicate with those changes. Staying up to date will result in all website elements working together cohesively.

4. New Features

Plugin and core updates often come with new features and improved performance. The core development team is constantly adding things that make WordPress easier to use and faster to modify. Likewise, plugin developers will add new features that provide additional functionality or an improved interface. Updating your website, plugins, and themes will not only keep them safe and responsive, but can make them easier to use and better!

5. Speed and Performance

Everybody wants a faster website. Speed is not only a large factor in SEO, but it’s also important for retaining site visitors. Every new WordPress core release comes with performance enhancements that improve the load times of pages and make the site more efficient overall. Updating your plugins in-tandem will guarantee that every aspect of your site receives these performance improvements, while also maintaining the functionality that you intended. Ultimately, updates just make your website faster. This is crucial because your visitors will often only give you eight seconds of their time, so make it count.

Remove the Guesswork with a Website Maintenance Plan

We understand that it’s one thing to know you should do something, and another to have the time or capacity to do so. Thankfully, we’re here to help. Our Website Maintenance Plan (WMP) includes plugin, theme, and core updates, site back-ups, and more, so you can spend less time worrying about your website and more time making it better for your visitors.

Our Web Maintenance Plan takes the weight of website maintenance off of your shoulders while still giving you the knowledge and insights gained from maintaining it. We visually review each page of your site after every update to make sure nothing has broken or changed unintentionally. Any changes we make, we do overnight, so your visitors won’t notice a thing.

Keeping your website updated and backed-up will guarantee that it’s healthy and ready for your visitors. Contact us today to learn more about our Website Maintenance Plan and ensure your site remains updated and ready for your visitors.