Safely Updating WordPress

We are often asked by clients if they can update WordPress core files, plugins and themes themselves. The answer is yes but, to be careful, it’s important to make sure you have made a backup of the WordPress database and filesystem incase something goes wrong and you need to restore your site.

To follow these instructions, we will assume you have the WordPress plugin Simple Backup installed as this is the plugin that our clients find easiest to use.

  1. Sign into the WordPress control panel with a user account that has administrator privileges (The control panel location is usually your website address with /wp-admin/ at the end)
  2. Once in the Dashboard, go to Tools – Backup Manager
  3. If they exist, delete the previous (old) backup files
  4. Click “Create WordPress Backup”
  5. Click “Refresh”
  6. Click “Close”
  7. If the two backup files with today’s date are not showing, wait a few minutes then go to Tools – Backup Manager and check again (and repeat if necessary)
    It is important that you do not continue until you can confirm that both the database and filesystem backups have completed!
  8. Use the links below the two backup files to download them to your computer for safe keeping
  9. Go to Dashboard – Updates
  10. If an updated version of WordPress is available, click “Update Now” You may need to sign back into WordPress when this has completed
  11. Go to Dashboard – Updates once more
  12. If there are plugins to update, click the box to the left of “Select All” then click “Update Plugins”
  13. When finished, click “Return to WordPress Updates”
  14. DO NOT UPDATE YOUR ACTIVE THEME IF YOU HAVE MODIFIED IT!
    If you are unsure about this, do not proceed as updating a modified theme will negate any modifications you have made. If you have not modified your active theme and it has an update OR if an un-modified, inactive theme has an available update, proceed to update the relevant themes.
  15. Visit your website and check that all pages and features are working as expected