A WordPress site is software, and just like the software for your phone, computer, etc. it has to be updated, usually for security reasons and less often for new features or bug fixes. And just like your car needs regular maintenance to run right, so does your website.
WordPress and its plugins and themes do get updated a lot – that’s for sure. Especially if your site is large or complex, there’s a lot to keep up with when it comes to updates.
What can happen if I don’t update my site?
The longer you go between updates, the more risk you’re taking. Here are some of the things that might happen if you don’t update regularly.
- The risk of acquiring malware/being hacked increases. Did you know that when WordPress, plugin and theme developers release new versions, they generally publish a changelog which is basically a roadmap of the vulnerabilities they fixed with the new release? Hackers use these to target sites still using the old versions to exploit those vulnerabilities. The more old plugins/themes you have, or the longer you wait to update WordPress core software, the more vulnerable your site gets.
- The risk of something breaking increases. I’ve had clients come to me with dozens (sometimes as many as 50) outdated plugins and themes. When you wait that long, something is bound to break when you finally do get around to updating. Unless you do it carefully and methodically (and on a safe copy of your site), you may not be able to figure out which update caused the breakage. This can lead to a rabbit hole of attempts to fix the problem and become quite time-consuming.
- Missing out on new features. New features often accompany security improvements especially in major WordPress core software updates.
- Functionality can begin to fail. If you update sporadically and have a mix of old and new versions of WordPress core software, plugins and themes, you may find that functionality on your site is not working the way it should due to conflicts between those various elements.
Software vulnerabilities in plugins, themes, and WordPress core are one of the top causes of site hacks1. Attacks are done through automated scripts that search for known vulnerabilities all over the web. It’s not personal, but if your site is chronically out of date it is an attractive target for these kinds of hackers.
Why don’t site owners update their WordPress sites?
I’ve heard a few reasons for this, the most common ones being:
- They just don’t think about it, or forget to do it. This is mostly from brochure-style site owners who don’t update a lot and rarely login to their sites.
- They didn’t know they needed to do it. This is usually from first-time WordPress site owners.
- And the #1 reason: they’re afraid they’ll break something. The larger a site becomes and the more plugins in play, the likelihood of breaking something with an update increases. This is especially true of WooCommerce sites.
Those are the reasons we started WP Minder back in 2014 – so our clients don’t have to think about everyday, required site maintenance and are never at risk for breaking something just by trying to take care of their site. We do the care and if something does break, we fix it. It’s that simple.
If you’re a WordPress site owner ready to leave the maintenance behind so you can spend more time on your business, give us a try. Contact us for more information or take our quick survey to see which Care Plan is right for your site.