How to update WordPress version without website downtime
Are you a WordPress website owner? You’d have come across this notification in your WordPress admin dashboard atleast once – ‘An updated version of WordPress is available.’
WordPress is the most popular CMS and they often releases updates to their software, with feature updates or security patches. You’d also find an ‘Update Now’ button in the dashboard to update WordPress version in a click.
What can go wrong when you update WordPress version?
The WordPress one-click update button is an easy way to update it, and it works fine in most cases. But at times, things can go wrong, and such one-click updates can end up breaking the website.
This is because the upgrade process will affect all files and folders included in the main WordPress installation, including the core files used to run WordPress.
As a result, any customizations that are done in these files, would be lost when you update WordPress version. It can also affect the proper functioning of the themes and plugins in your site.
Moreover, WordPress is a software driven by PHP and MySQL. Software compatibility errors can occur when you’re running older versions of PHP-MySQL, which may not be supported by the WordPress version.
The end result can be scary, such as a broken website, angry customers, business loss, and so on. That’s why we always try to stay safe than sorry.
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How we update WordPress version without a website downtime
Before going ahead with WordPress updates on live websites, we take some precautionary measures to avoid a downtime.
1. Website backups
First and foremost, we backup the website files and the related database. This is vital to restore the website back to its working mode, in case anything goes wrong when you update WordPress version.
2. Software compatibility checks
Before updating WordPress version, we audit the server software such as PHP and MySQL and validate their compatibility with the new WordPress versions.
In case of version mismatches, we first update the server software to match the requirements of the WordPress. This again, needs to be done with utmost caution, as server software changes can also affect other applications in the server.
3. Themes, plugins and customizations
It is hard to find a WordPress site without any customization or plugins or themes. There are a wide range of themes and plugins available for WordPress, and many website owners make use of them.
These themes and plugins serve various purposes, and they need to be preserved during a WordPress version update. There are also chances that some of them may stop working post an upgrade.
Many vendors often release updated versions for their themes and plugins, and it is important to keep them updated too. Not to mention the custom code added by some website owners to personalize their site.
Before going ahead with the WordPress update, we audit such settings, addons and customizations, identify the probable compatibility issues that can occur, and take actions to prevent those.
4. Testing in backup server
In cases where the websites are very critical, we maintain an identical website environment in another server. The server software and WordPress versions are exactly the same in both servers.
This enables us to perform a demo update in the backup server first and confirm that everything is working fine as expected, before going ahead with the update in the live server.
While testing, we update the DB and necessary config files with the relevant URLs and database information to ensure that the test is 100% valid for the live site we want to test.
Once the website and all functionalities are confirmed to be working fine in the backup, we go ahead and update WordPress version in the live server too, and verify that it works fine in the production.
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WordPress updates are crucial for security and features. But many owners shy away from the updates due to the fear of breaking their site, which in turn make these sites susceptible to hacks and exploits.
From incorrect ownership/permissions to PHP customization, anything can mess up with a WordPress update. At Bobcares, we leave no stone unturned to ensure that your WordPress site runs fine without any downtime or vulnerabilities.