Running regular updates is one of the best things you can do for your WordPress website: they help improve security and speed, fix bugs, and add new features. Not to mention automated website backups, which keep your site safe. But for many website owners, updates are something that often gets pushed onto the backburner.
The easy fix, it would seem, would be to automate: but an automatic website updates are not always the best bet. In this article, we’re going to discuss what automation is and go over the pros and cons.
What is Update Automation?
For years now, WordPress has allowed users to automate security and translation updates. In a nutshell, that means that whenever something new comes out, your software is automatically updated without any effort on your part. Because these small little updates happen so often, automating can be a huge timesaver. No notifications, no need to click the “update” button – it’s just done for you.
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
Pros of WordPress Update Automation
- Reduced workload. Both WordPress Core and add-ons (like plugins and themes) can be set up for automatic updates. Even if you choose to automate just the Core updates, that’s still a ton of work off your plate.
- It improves your site. What’s better than your site getting an upgrade with zero work on your part? We can’t think of anything! WordPress updates typically include features that improve functionality and security on your site, automatically improving the user experience.
- Backups are taken care of. If you don’t have to worry about regularly backing up your website, you can count on fewer mistakes in the process. Automated website backups are a great solution to ensure that your site is always prepared.
Cons of WordPress Update Automation
Surprisingly, there are a number of cons when it comes to using an automatic website backup to update your site. It can be hard to create a blanket list, though, because it really depends on what you choose to automate and how you choose to do it.
The main problem is that your website could crash. Depending on the size of the updates and what they affect (whether WordPress Core or plugins), your website could crash. The issue is that as you automate WordPress Core updates, older plugins and themes may no longer be compatible with the changes, causing the site to crash – and vice versa. If you automate add-on updates, and those updates are no longer compatible with WordPress Core, it can also cause your site to crash.
It should go without saying that fixing a crash can be a time-consuming and frustrating process. Typically, no matter what caused the crash, you’ll have to restore to a recent backup (and then go through the process of figuring out which update caused the crash in the first place).
Using a Managed WordPress Service
Updating through a managed WordPress service may seem like a happy middle ground, but that can have consequences as well (mainly a lot of back and forth).
When you use a managed WordPress service, like a hosting company, they’ll usually email you an update schedule. Some companies will check the elements for compatibility, but some will not. If that duty is your responsibility, then you have to vet and approve any updates before they occur.
In addition, if an element scheduled for an update, like a theme or plugin, isn’t compatible with your WordPress website, you’ll have to ask your website manager to hold off on the update until you can fix the problem.
The key is to find out in advance what your service will take care of and what will fall on you. In the end, if it’s up to you to approve updates and fix any potential issues, it might be more work than it’s worth.
Automated Website Backups
An automatic website update process can be a time-saver, but there are other issues to consider before making the leap. Take the time to sit down, consider your situation, and weigh the pros and cons. If you feel that updates are just too much for you to handle on your own, automation might be worth it. Keep in mind that automation isn’t limited to just updates, but can also help you stay on top of keeping your site backed up.