After you start your blog and install plugins, its extremely important for security reasons that you keep the plugins updated. In this step by step guide, we will show you how to properly update WordPress plugins, and how to manage plugin updates more efficiently.
Why Update WordPress Plugins?
WordPress plugins are like apps for your WordPress site. You can install them to add new features and functionality to your website like adding contact forms, photo galleries, sliders, etc.
You can learn more about WordPress plugins in our guide what are WordPress plugins? How do they work?.
Plugins are created by third-party developers. Most of them keep improving their plugins by adding new features, improving code quality, and keeping them secure. These changes are then released as updates.
You should always keep your WordPress plugins up to date to ensure that those changes are applied on your site immediately. This improves WordPress security and performance of your website.
Having said that, let’s see how to update WordPress plugins.
How to Properly Update WordPress Plugins
WordPress comes with a built-in update system. It automatically checks for updates and shows you notifications when there are updates available for your WordPress plugins, themes, and WordPress core software.
You can also manually check for updates by visiting Dashboard » Updates page.
When there is a new update available for plugins, you will see the notification on the plugins menu in the WordPress admin bar.
You can install these updates by visiting the Plugins page. You will see a notification below each plugin that has updates available for you to install.
You can just click on the ‘Update Now’ link to install each update.
Bulk Update WordPress Plugins
If there are updates for several plugins on your website, then you may want to quickly review and bulk update those plugins.
To do that, you need to visit the Plugins page and click on the ‘Update Available’ link.
This will show you the list of all plugins that have updates available. You can select all of them and then select ‘Update’ from the ‘Bulk Actions’ drop down menu.
Before You Update, Read this!
Before you update the plugin, it’s important that you click on the View version details link to see what changes the plugin author has made.
This will keep you informed as to what changes were made should anything not work properly.
Unless the version details specifically say security update, we usually wait one full week before updating the plugin. In this time, all errors usually get caught, reported, and fixed.
If you have a heavy traffic site that is generating a lot of leads, then we recommend you to do the same.
How to Undo the WordPress Plugin Update
Sometimes a plugin update can produce unexpected results like some plugin features may not work properly.
In that case, first you will need to deactivate that plugin.
If you can access the Plugins page in WordPress admin area, then simply click on the ‘Deactivate’ link below the misbehaving plugin.
After that you can install the WP-Rollback plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.
Upon activation, go back to the Plugins page, and you will be able to see a rollback option below each plugin. Clicking on it will allow you to rollback the plugin to any previous version.
For detailed instructions, check out our guide on how to how to rollback WordPress plugins.
If you are unable to access the WordPress admin area, then follow the steps in our guide on how to deactivate all plugins when not able to access WordPress admin area.
Tips to Manage WordPress Plugins More Efficiently
If you manage multiple WordPress sites, then you will soon realize that you have to update plugins quite often. Here are some tips to help you manage them more effeciently.
If you are confident about the plugins that you are using, then you can enable automatic updates for all your WordPress plugins.
However, a better approach will be to setup automatic updates only for select few plugins that you trust. Follow the instructions in our guide on how to better manage WordPress updates.
If you don’t manage multiple WordPress sites, then you can setup email notifications for plugin updates. This will allow you to be alerted when there is an update available without logging into your WordPress site.
Always make sure that you have setup an automatic backup plugin on your WordPress site. This will allow you to restore your WordPress site in case something goes wrong.
Last but not least, if you can afford managed WordPress hosting, then the staging website feature is definitely worth the investment. It allows you to test the new plugin updates on a staging environment before going live. We recommend using either WPEngine or SiteGround’s GoGeek plan.