Keeping your WordPress plugins up to date is an essential part of running a WordPress based website. It is one of the most important responsibilities you have when making sure your website runs smoothly, works great, and is hack-free. Here are our top 5 reasons that WordPress updates matter.
1.) Helps ensure compatibility with new WordPress versions.
WordPress is the most popular content management system for websites on the planet — it’s not even close. As of Sept. 13th, 2020, WordPress has a 38.4% market share for websites built with a CMS and the next closest competition is Shopify with a 2.8% market share.
Why are we mentioning market share? When you are the big dog, you are a big target for hackers. Because of this, WordPress is constantly updating their platform to be more secure. If you are with a great host, they will automatically update your WordPress version when a new version comes out — in order to patch known vulnerabilities. WordPress is always growing as well and they are adding new functionality and features.
With the constant updating by WordPress, comes content updating by plugin developers. When WordPress changes their code, quite often, plugins need to have their code changes as well to make sure that it continues to run well with the new version of WordPress.
2.) Ensures compatibility with WordPress themes.
As mentioned in the previous point, WordPress core is constantly changing and being updated. Good theme developers are constantly updating their themes to keep up with the changes that WordPress is making to make sure their themes keep working as they should. When WordPress gets updated, and your theme gets updated, you need to make sure your plugins are up to date as well to ensure that you don’t have anything break and lose functionality.
You need to make sure all three — WordPress, theme, and plugins — are all up to date. One failure out of the three can cause big problems. And, if you use your website to make money, that could cost you money.
3.) Helps prevent spam, malware, and hacks.
Since WordPress is the big dog on the block and the biggest target for hackers and spammers… what do you think it’s plugins look like to hackers? They look like targets! The minute they find a vulnerability, they will exploit it. Luckily, most good plugin developers stay on top of known exploits, fix them, and release new versions. To help prevent against being hacked, make sure your plugins are up to date.
4.) Increased functionality.
If you are using quality plugins, the developer is constantly adding functionality to them. Don’t miss out on updates if you want to be able to take full advantage of what your plugin is capable of — especially if it is a premium plugin that you are paying money for. For instance, Gravity Forms, a premium form plugin, recently offered the ability to have much more control over the layout of the fields in your forms. If you don’t update Gravity Forms, you will miss out on that functionality.
5.) Plugin compatibility.
If you have ever had to troubleshoot an issue with your WordPress site, it’s quite possible you had tech support with your host ask you to disable all your plugins and then reactivate them one at a time. What they are trying to figure out is if you have a “plugin compatibility issue”. That means that your plugin version doesn’t play well with either your theme version, your WordPress version, or another plugin that you are using.
Theme developers are constantly trying to keep up with incompatibility issues — especially when it comes to other popular plugins and/or themes. So, to makes sure you reduce the possibility of having plugin compatibility issues. Make sure you keep your plugins up to date.
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Keeping your plugins up to date yourself is simple. Log in to your WordPress site and look at the top bar in your dashboard. When a plugin needs to be updated, you’ll see a circle with 2 arrows that has a number next to it. The number next to that icon tells you how many plugins have updates available. Just click that icon and you will be taken to a page to see whiuch plugins have updates available and then all you have to di it click “update” on each one.
Be sure to check your website each time you make an update to a plugin. Updates can cause problems as well. Sometimes they cause issues with plugins and themes that have not been updated by their respective developers. We recommend creating a backup of your website before updating plugins in case you do run into plugin compatibility issues.
If all of this sounds like it’s too much to handle, too much to remember, or more than you want to take care of, we do offer fully managed hosting and management plans and we can take care of all of this for you. Check out what we can do for you here. http://steamworks.io/hassle-free-wordpress-hosting-management/