How to update your WordPress version

Maintaining your WordPress website in optimal condition is crucial for ensuring security, performance, and access to the latest features. This detailed guide will walk you through the process of updating your WordPress site to its latest version, addressing common troubleshooting issues, and answering frequently asked questions to make the process as smooth as possible.

Step 1: Secure a Website Backup

Before initiating any updates, creating a complete backup of your website is essential. This precautionary step ensures that you can restore your site to its previous state if any issues arise during the update. You can create a backup using a backup plugin or by utilizing your hosting provider’s backup feature.

How to Backup Your Website:

Using Backup Plugins:

  1. Install a Backup Plugin: Popular options include UpdraftPlus, BackupBuddy, and Duplicator.
  2. Configure and Run a Backup: Follow the plugin’s instructions to create a full backup of your site, including the database and files.
  3. Download Backup Files: Save the backup files to your local computer or a cloud storage service.

Using Hosting Provider’s Backup Feature:

  1. Log In to Your Hosting Account: Access the hosting dashboard provided by your web host.
  2. Find the Backup Section: Locate the backup tools or options.
  3. Create and Download a Backup: Follow the host’s instructions to generate and download a backup.

Step 2: Update Themes and Plugins

Updating your themes and plugins before updating the WordPress core is crucial to avoid compatibility issues. Outdated themes or plugins can cause conflicts with the new WordPress version.

How to Update Themes and Plugins:

  1. Access Your WordPress Dashboard:
    • Log In: Use your admin credentials to log into the WordPress dashboard.
  2. Navigate to Updates:
    • Go to Dashboard > Updates: This section will show available updates for themes, plugins, and WordPress itself.
  3. Update Themes and Plugins:
    • Select All Updates: Check the boxes for themes and plugins that need updating.
    • Click Update: Click the “Update Themes” and “Update Plugins” buttons to start the update process.

Step 3: Update the WordPress Core

Once your themes and plugins are updated, you can proceed with updating the WordPress core to the latest version.

How to Update WordPress:

  1. Log In to Your WordPress Dashboard:
    • Access Dashboard: Navigate to the admin area of your WordPress site.
  2. Check for Updates:
    • Go to Dashboard > Updates: This page will indicate if a new version of WordPress is available.
  3. Update WordPress:
    • Click “Update Now”: If an update is available, click the “Update Now” button. WordPress will automatically download and install the latest version.
    • Verify the Update: After the update is complete, ensure that the WordPress version displayed matches the latest release.

Step 4: Post-Update Checklist

After updating WordPress, perform the following checks to ensure everything is functioning correctly:

Post-Update Actions:

  1. Test Your Site:
    • Check Functionality: Browse through your site to ensure all pages, posts, and interactive elements are working as expected.
  2. Clear Browser Cache:
    • Clear Cache: Sometimes, your browser may cache the old version of your site. Clear your browser’s cache to view the updated site.


Issue: White Screen of Death

  • Problem: After updating, you encounter a blank white screen.
  • Solution:
    1. Deactivate Plugins: Access your site via FTP or your hosting file manager. Navigate to the wp-content/plugins directory and rename plugin folders to deactivate them. Reactivate plugins one by one to identify the problematic one.
    2. Rename Theme Folder: If the issue persists, rename your active theme’s folder in wp-content/themes to force WordPress to revert to a default theme.

Issue: 500 Internal Server Error

  • Problem: You see a 500 Internal Server Error after updating.
  • Solution:
    1. Rename .htaccess File: Connect via FTP and rename the .htaccess file to something like .htaccess_old. If the issue is resolved, regenerate a new .htaccess file by navigating to Settings > Permalinks and saving the settings again.

Issue: Compatibility Problems

  • Problem: Themes or plugins are not compatible with the new WordPress version.
  • Solution:
    1. Check for Updates: Visit the theme or plugin developer’s website for updates or compatibility information.
    2. Contact Support: Reach out to the theme or plugin developer for assistance if updates are unavailable.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Is it necessary to update WordPress regularly?

  • A1: Yes, regular updates are vital for maintaining security, performance, and access to the latest features and enhancements.

Q2: Will my website’s design be affected after the update?

  • A2: Most updates should not alter your website’s design or content. However, keeping your themes and plugins updated is essential to ensure compatibility.

Q3: What should I do if something goes wrong during the update?

  • A3: If issues arise, restore your website using the backup created before the update. If problems persist, seek professional assistance.

Q4: How often should I back up my website?

  • A4: Regular backups are crucial. The frequency of backups should depend on how often you update or change content. Weekly or monthly backups are generally recommended.

By meticulously following these steps and preparing for common issues, you can safely update your WordPress website to the latest version. Maintaining regular backups, staying informed about compatibility concerns, and performing routine maintenance will ensure your website remains secure and efficient.