The Pros and Cons of Automatic WordPress Updates
Automatic WordPress updates: As the owner of a WordPress blog, something that you will inevitably have to do if you haven’t already is run updates. And in particular, security updates.
One option to update your WordPress blog will be to have them made automatically updating in the background, something that WordPress has allowed since Version 3.7.
You may believe that automating these major updates for the sake of convenience and simplicity may seem like the proper path to take, but is it really?
In reality, this is not a decision that is so easy to make as it seems.
The security of your blog must be of utmost importance to you, and it’s also something that is a process and not a one time deal. You have to constantly monitor your website for security vulnerabilities and flaws, and then implement solutions before any hackers discover it.
In other words, keeping your WordPress blog safe from hackers will require non-stop attention. But despite what you may think, this is exactly the reason why running automatic WordPress updates may actually not be the best idea.
Let’s go over the pros and cons of running automatic plugin updates so you can decide what the best path for you is:
Automatic WordPress Updates: Cons
Here are the primary cons to automating your WordPress updates:
1. You Can Lose Traffic
One of the obvious effects of automating your updates to WordPress is that every update is done automatically. You as the website administrator can easily lose track of the changes and minor updates that are being made.
While this may not sound like a big deal to you, the truth is that not knowing which updates are being made to your site means that patches or plugins can be installed that is incompatible with the rest of the website. For instance, an update has a prerequisite of a service level that has not been met by the rest of the system.
This would almost certainly result in an ‘ERROR’ screen showing up on some of your site pages and this would cause you to lose a significant amount of your traffic.
But if that’s not bad enough…
2. Your Site Could Crash
Website crashing does not happen only due to bad WordPress hosting. Unlike popular belief dedicated server is not an only solution. Automatic upgrade can also lead to a crash. This largely depends on what type of changes and updates are made. There is a possibility with old add-ons and plugins not being compatible with new versions of WordPress Core changes.
This would result in your website crashing, and it’s why making automatic WordPress updates is hardly ever recommended by experts for WordPress sites.
To put this into perspective, it means that literally, a single updated plugin could result in your entire site crashing which you’ll have to spend time fixing.
3. You Could Lose Data
If your WordPress site ever crashes, you’ll be praying that you made a recent backup. WordPress crashes are not exactly quick to fix (as you’ll have to figure out what specifically cause the crash), and the only way you’ll be able to restore it is to a recent WordPress backup.
This means that you run a serious risk of losing a lot of data should your site crash, including important customer data if you don’t have a good backup. Plus, with your website crashed, all traffic will come to a screeching halt.
In summary, the biggest con to automatic WordPress updates are that you’ll have little knowledge on what’s actually being updated in contrast to if you were to manually update your blog, meaning that you run a serious risk of some of your pages going into error if not your entire website crashing and you losing data (and traffic).
That being said, there are also advantages to automating your updates as well, which is what we’ll talk about next.
Automatic WordPress Updates: Pros
Here are the biggest pros to automating your WordPress updates:
1. Reduces Workload
There’s no denying that automating your updates is convenient and thus limits your workload, but as we have seen, there’s simply a huge risk that offsets this.
A good compromise may be to automate some of your updates and manually update the others. For example, let WordPress automatically update while you are manually updating add-ons – theme or plugin. At the very least, this will help you to save time.
And of course, by saving time and reducing your overall workload, you’ll be able to spend more of your time and effort in growing your business.
2. Respond Faster to Updates
As we discussed previously in the introduction, the security of your blog must be of utmost importance to you and scan your website for vulnerabilities and flaws is an ongoing and never-ending process.
With that in mind, here’s why automating your WordPress blog could help make it more secure: automating the process means that whenever the developers release a vulnerability patch or new features, the WordPress plugins or themes update automatically.
This removes any chances of delaying updates. As delaying updates could lead to security issues, automated updates come as a saviour.
Developers will actually encourage WordPress users to auto update the features in order to run the most recent version that can detect and fix security holes and vulnerabilities before hackers exploit them. This will make your website not only more secure but more functional as well.
Now like we talked about previously, this can also be a severe disadvantage to automatic WordPress updates. Plugin update may not be compatible with the rest of your site, leading to major problems. So what’s the best solution here?
The golden rule to follow here is to pay attention to who the developer is. So long as the developer has built a big name for themselves and is concerned about their reputation, you should be safe to update the plugins automatically.
But if the developer is a smaller programmer, chances are good you’re not going to want them automatically running code to your website without review.
Also Read: WordPress Site Not Loading? Here what to do
Based on the above information, what firm conclusions can we draw about automatic WordPress updates?
The best conclusion that we can draw is that while automated updates are convenient, they are not always the safest or smartest option. Hence, using a WordPress automatic updater is not a good idea. Configuring automatic background updates is not an option.
It’s good to receive the benefit of new security patches to fix vulnerabilities, but updates break your site. You will want to make sure that those updates won’t compromise your plugin compatibility. Using a staging site to first see if the updates are compatible with your website can prevent your website from crashing.
Regularly updating WordPress site is the most basic security measure for any WordPress website. Ignoring updates can get your site compromised. And if you are worried about spending too much time updating your websites daily, using a single dashboard from where you can update all your sites could be a solution. Security services like MalCare offer features that enable you to update all your WordPress websites from the dashboard itself. This means you don’t have to log in to each one of your websites to monitor and update plugins, themes or WordPress core that are outdated. You can invest this saved time in growing your business while your site remains secure.
We hope you’ve found this post helpful and if you have any queries, please reach out to us. Thanks for reading.
Sufia is a WordPress enthusiast, and enjoys sharing their experience with fellow enthusiasts. On the MalCare blog, Sufia distils the wisdom gained from building plugins to solve security issues that admins face.