Updating WordPress is really important in maintaining and securing your website, but upgrading can hinder customization and can even break your site. In this post, we will cover considerations you should use when upgrading your WordPress powered website/s.
Always make sure you have backups for your website. A MUST, even if it is not WordPress.
Most hosting companies charge extra for backup and backup restore services but there are some web hosting provider nowadays that offers it for free. I know my hosts do and so does FastComet. They give you full, unrestricted access to your daily and weekly backups via their web-based 1-click Restore Manager (Jet Backups).
But if your web hosting provider doesn’t or you feel the need to have another backup, for extra safety, then I’d recommend these plugins:
UpdraftPlus – this one I personally use. It is a backup and restore plugin. It has a free version which on it’s own is superb, and some added features for a few bucks. Backups of files and database can have separate schedules. The paid version also backs up to Microsoft OneDrive, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Storage, SFTP, SCP, and WebDAV.
BackWPup is available as a free plugin from the WordPress repository. The plugin schedule complete automatic backups of your WordPress installation.
There are lots of other solutions – both no-cost and advanced – and I’ll be showcasing those on a separate post.
2. Use a Child Theme
A child theme is a theme that inherits the functionality and styling of another theme, called the parent theme. Child themes are the recommended way of modifying an existing theme.
Theme Name: My New Child Theme
Description: A child theme
Template: Parent (this will be the folder name)
/* =Theme customization starts here
If you prefer to use a plugin for css modifications, Simple Custom CSS plugin might do.
3. Review Theme, Plugin, and Core Improve Changelogs for Conflicts
Before you install any revision, we advise you read its changelog for possible conflicts.
You may want to wait on major upgrades to plugins and read the changelog on WordPress.org or the plugin’s website to be sure that the upgrade won’t break something on your site.
Including, if you’re using custom CSS to modify the appearance of a plugin-generated contact page, factors to consider the revision doesn’t modification some of the CSS IDs or courses that the custom code makes use of.
For changes to WordPress core, a complete changelog of every version currently comes in the Codex.
Reviewing the changelog for possible conflicts is key to making sure that any WordPress changes get efficiently.
4. Creating a WordPress Staging Site
You can use WP Staging to create a clone of your site in a subdirectory of your current hosting account – no need for any additional charges. This plugin won’t be needed if your current web host has built in staging – for example, WP Engine, Flywheel, Pantheon, and etc.
- Install the plugin, select which items to clone.
- The cloned site will be installed in a subfolder of your existing wordpress installation with a complete copy of your database.
- Login to the cloned site.
- Customize theme, update plugins, etc.
- Do some tests and if it is working, you are safe to migrate all modifications/updates to your production/live site.
Stick to the simple rules below to ensure WordPress changes are safe:
- Backup your site on a regular basis
- Make all theme customization with a child theme – or Simple Custom CSS plugin.
- Check the changelogs if the recent versions/upgrades are compatible.
- Never ever test changes on a production/live website.