At their core, WordPress plugins are PHP scripts that add functionality to a website. They can either enhance existing functionality or add entirely new features to a website. You’ll find that most of these plugins are free and developed by volunteers.
You can find them in the WordPress Plugin Directory. The WordPress organization tests these plugins and vets them as safe to use. Still, quality can vary among them.
But how do they relate to WordPress core? The WordPress CMS has the main function of publishing content and managing users. Each plugin you install simply adds to that core function.
With these plugins, you can have the functionality you want. That’s why WordPress allows customization because different people want different functionality for their website. One-size-fits-all doesn’t work here.
Here are some categories of popular WordPress plugins:
- Spam control
- Data import and export
Now, don’t be tricked. There are thousands of plugins available, which means you can find what works for you.
Why Update WordPress Plugins?
Once you install the desired plugins to your WordPress site, you’ll know that they require updates from time to time.
So we’ll talk about how to update WordPress plugins the right way. But first, let’s discuss why update WordPress plugins?
One big reason is that developers often bring features to their plugins. This can be related to bringing new cloud storage. Or they might have made the UI and workflow more intuitive. Or they have made it easier to use.
To bring in the required changes, they need to update the plugin.
But keep in mind that developers also update WordPress plugins for security reasons. Old versions can have openings that can be compromised. That’s why developers work tirelessly to update the software. So it’s better to update your installed version in order to make sure that your site is safe.
What To Do Before Updating Your WordPress Plugins?
Before making an update, make a full site backup. Again, you have a plugin called UpdrafPlus for that. It’s a seamless process.
After making the backup and ensuring that it’s in a secure location, turn to the plugins which need to be updated. On your Plugins page, you can see links showing which plugins need an update.
Make sure to open that link and read those details. You will find the changelog and other important information here. If you don’t see anything that pertains to your site functioning as it should, you can move to update the plugin.
How To Choose Between Automatic And Manual Updates
The idea of automatically updating the plugin seems good, right? Or should you go through every changelog and which updates get installed?
There answer is blurry. Some plugins offer auto-updates that are okay. They don’t have risks associated with them.
Other plugins are too risky for automatic updates. This is related to their importance regarding your site’s performance.
Types Of Plugins To Automatically Update
You’ll find different types of plugins on each site. Some offer core functionality. While others offer quality-of-life services for users and staff. Generally, you can update these quality-of-life plugins automatically because they won’t risk your website’s core performance.
For example, Yoast SEO is very famous in SEO plugins. You’ll find it on almost all WordPress sites. But its functionality isn’t integral to the site itself staying online.
The main criteria for plugins that can be auto-updated: Will the site not work or breaks down if the plugin doesn’t work properly?
If not, then you can set it auto.
But don’t rely on it solely. Consider the purpose of your site, as well.
How To Update WordPress Plugins Automatically
First, make sure that your WordPress version is up to date. Then, you’ll see the option of enabling auto-updates from the dashboard. Head to Plugins – Installed Plugins.
There, you’ll see the option of Enable Auto-Updates. Now, if you think that WordPress can handle this plugin itself, click that button.
It will change to Disable Auto-Updates which you change anytime.
You can also automatically update using WordPress management services like ManageWP. The advantage is that you can integrate different sites into one dashboard.
How To Update Plugins Manually
Most people update their plugins manually. It might sound difficult to do it that way, but it’s not. Just go to Plugin – Installed Plugins and find which plugins need to be updated.
Click the Update Now link at any plugin you want to update. It will update in a few seconds.
How To Manually Update Plugins Via FTP
Sometimes, when you can’t get into your dashboard. What would you do if you need to update a plugin then?
You just need to access your site via FTP. You can get your credentials from within your hosting dashboard, or by asking your site administrator for access.
Enter the credentials and connect, and then navigate to the /public_html/wp-content/ directory and find the plugins folder. Inside, locate the plugin you want to update, right-click to download a backup just in case, and then right-click to delete the old version.
At this point, you will need the newest version of the plugin on your computer, which you can get from its WordPress.org plugin page or from the developer’s site where you purchased it.
Then you will need to extract the .zip file you download without renaming the folder. Then, simply upload that folder by dragging it to the /wp-content/plugins directory (or right-clicking and selecting Upload).
And the plugin is updated!
Do you have another method to update a WordPress plugin? Do let me know in the comments below.