How to update plugins and themes

WordPress plugins and theme developers work hard day in and day out in making sure that their software is working as expected. Each update usually includes bug fixes, improvements, and added features that make the customer’s lives easier. Ensuring that these updates are applied to your site is one of your responsibilities as a website owner. This begs the question, what is the proper way to update my WordPress plugins and themes?

Where can I find the available plugin and theme updates?

You can check your WordPress dashboard > Plugins for plugins, and an update notice would appear for each plugin with an available update.

For themes, you can check your WordPress dashboard > Appearance > Themes.

To see all the available updates on one page, navigate your WordPress dashboard > Dashboard > updates.

Method A: Updating from your live website directly (not recommended)

You can choose to update the plugins and themes on your live site, but you’ll have to make sure to follow the steps below:

Step #1 Backup your website

Backing up your website is always a must before you update anything. This serves as a preventive measure in case something went wrong with the update. It might be that the update broke something on the site or, in the worst-case scenario, leave your site inaccessible for hours. With a backup, you could always bring your website back to its former working state with a few clicks of a button.

You can use a third-party plugin to backup.

Updraft is one of the most popular backup plugins that you could try out. It has a free and a pro version with added features. If you like to take it for a spin, here’s their plugin page, and here is their FAQ in case you need to know how to use it.

You can ask your hosting provider to back up.

Hosting providers do have the feature to back up a site as regularly as possible. Drop them an email, and they’ll be more than happy to do it for you.

Step #2 Update the plugins

Once the backup has been made, feel free to navigate your plugins dashboard and update your plugins.

Step #3 Test your plugin’s functionality

After a successful update, it is advisable to make a few rounds to see if your site is working as expected. With our plugins, you can identify if it works or not by placing a test order and see if the payment is successful, then you are good to go!

The above is a method that some users would do. However,  we do not really recommend this as there is a much safer way to update your plugins, and it involves making updates on your staging website first.

Method B: Updating from your staging site first (recommended)

A staging site is separate from your live site. This means that if something went wrong with the update on the staging site, it wouldn’t affect users visiting your live site.

Step #1 Set up your staging site

You can ask your hosting provider to create a staging environment for you. Kindly make sure that it follows our available development domains so that the license won’t be needed for your staging site.

Step #2 Backup and update your site

Similar to the steps mentioned in method A above, you can use a third-party plugin or contact your hosting provider to back up the site for you, and then after making a backup, feel free to update your plugins.

Step #3 Test! Test! Test!

You can now make tests on your staging site without it being seen by your live website visitors, and if anything goes wrong, no one would be affected except the administrator.

Step #4 Push the changes from your staging to live 

Hosting providers give you the option to push the changes you made on your staging site to your live site, making it as seamless as possible. Again, it is best to make sure that you have backups for both the live and the staging site for safety measures.

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