Updates to your WordPress plugins are essential and necessary to keep your WordPress site level and secure. Many WordPress hacks come from outdated plugins or themes. Updating your plugins is therefore essential!

Not updating your plugins is a mistake and for several reasons:

  • The plugin may contain a security vulnerability
  • The plugin may no longer be compatible with other plugins or your theme
  • The plugin may no longer be compatible with the latest version of WordPress
  • You will not benefit from the latest features of the plugin

Whether your plugin is free or premium, you absolutely must update it! If you already know how to install a plugin correctly , let’s see how to update it…

IN SUMMARY

  • When to update a WordPress plugin?
  • How to update a WordPress plugin?
    • What to do before updating a plugin /!\
    • Update a WordPress plugin via the administration
    • Update a WordPress plugin by FTP
    • Update your WordPress plugins automatically
  • Go back to a previous version (before update) of the plugin
  • Conclusion: Update but…

When to update a WordPress plugin?

To know when to update a WordPress plugin, the principle of version numbers will already enlighten you. Let’s take the example of the Site Kit by Google plugin , at the time of writing this article it is in version 1.18.0.  What do these numbers mean?

  • 1 : Major version of the plugin
  • 18 : Intermediate modifications (addition of functionalities)
  •  : Minor fix and/or security patch
Update Google Site Kit Plugin

By clicking on Show details , you can see precisely the list of changes made according to the version. Here we see that the intermediate version 1. 18 .0 brought new features (Added) and improvements (Enhanced).

WordPress Plugin Version Number

We generally update our WordPress plugins to benefit from bug fixes, to improve compatibility or to take advantage of new features.

How to update a WordPress plugin?

We will see in detail that there are 3 main methods for updating a plugin in WordPress . We can :

  1. Update from WordPress admin (recommended)
  2. Update a plugin via FTP (the fastest for mass updates)
  3. Update plugins automatically (use with caution)
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We’ll also show you how to roll back if something goes wrong ^^

What to do before updating a plugin /!\

Before proceeding , and as with any major modification, don’t forget to save your WordPress , you can never be careful enough.

On this subject, the Updraft+ backup plugin offers an interesting feature before any update, the plugin offers you an automatic incremental backup before updating the plugin, theme and even WordPress.

Updraft Before Update

To save time, you certainly want to update all the plugins at once, why not after all since WordPress allows you to do so! This is an error , I recommend that you perform updates manually and individually for each plugin.

Not only will this prevent your WordPress from getting stuck in “.maintenance” mode, but also to know which plugin specifically crashed your WordPress ^^

Maintenance Wp Org

I also recommend that you check the compatibility of the plugin with your version of WordPress. That being said, we can now start updating our plugins 😉

Update a WordPress plugin via the administration

If you installed a free or freemium plugin from WordPress.org or from your WordPress dashboard, it’s very simple! Go to your WordPress Admin, then to Dashboard >>Updates and you will see the plugin(s) to update.

Update WordPress Admin Plugin

Click on “update now” and WordPress will take care of downloading the latest version of the plugin, uploading it to your server, removing the old version and installing and activating the new version. If everything went well then you should see this:

Update Admin Plugin Ok

We can also go to Dashboard >> Updates (/wp-admin/update-core.php) where all the updates of our WordPress to be made are located. All you have to do is select/check the plugins to update and then click on the “Update extensions” button . It’s faster but again, it’s to be avoided as much as possible for the reasons mentioned above .

Update Multiple WordPress Plugins

Updating plugins via the plugins page is clearly the easiest method and the one I recommend, as long as you take the precaution of updating one plugin at a time for the reasons given in what it takes do before updating .

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Update a WordPress plugin by FTP

If you want to go even faster or if your WordPress plugin does not have a direct update option via the WordPress administration, you will have to resort to the manual method. Don’t worry, it’s barely longer than the method described above.

To update via FTP, you will therefore need your FTP access (contact your host if you do not have them/more). You must also download the latest version of the plugin directly from the platform where you purchased it. Once downloaded, unzip it on your computer.

For those who are not familiar with the Filezilla FTP software, here is a little reminder:

install wordpress ftp theme

Connect to your FTP and simply drag the plugin folder from your PC (on the left in the image) to the /wp-content/plugins/ directory which will overwrite all previous content in the folder of the plugin concerned.

Installer Plugin WordPress

Once the file has finished downloading, your plugin should be updated to its latest version. You can check this by going to the Plugins tab in your WordPress dashboard. Check that the plugin is still activated and that it does not cause a bug.

Update your WordPress plugins automatically

A feature has been added to WordPress version 5.5 . The popular CMS has gained the ability to enable automatic updates for plugins and themes . However, this controversial new feature comes with some risks. It is clear that the time saving of this feature is more than obvious. What’s more, the newest among us will be reassured that they no longer have to worry about the updates to be made. However, this will not prevent conflicts between versions of your extensions and/or themes.

To activate this feature, nothing could be simpler, go to the Extensions >> Installed Extensions page and activate the automatic updates of your choice by clicking on “ Enable automatic updates ”:

Automatic Updates WordPress Plugins

My advice here, make sure you have daily backup copies (in case of a nightly update that goes wrong, it will be easy to restore the next morning), only activate this feature on plugins of relative importance, avoid to activate it for example for a major plugin such as WooCommerce which is sometimes subject to some incompatibility and which often requires an update of the database.

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Go back to a previous version (before update) of the plugin

If the update goes wrong or if the new version of the plugin poses a problem, you still have the solution of downgrading or returning to the previous version. There are 3 methods available to you for this:

  1. Restore the pre-update backup. It’s long and it takes a hammer to crush a fly!
  2. Go to WordPress.org, find the plugin and its previous versions, then overwrite via FTP. It’s just as long and even more tedious!
  3. Use a plugin that will do it for you 🙂 It’s simple, fast and secure with WP Roll Back

WP Roll back allows quick and easy restoration of themes or plugins from the WordPress.org directory to any previous (or newer) version. No need to download manually or go through FTP to go back.

Wp Roll Back

Once the plugin is installed, you will see that each extension has added a new menu item, Backspace :

Back WordPress

One click and you can choose which version to restore:

Back Version Wp Roll Back

Conclusion: Update but…

My conclusion can be summed up in one sentence “Stay up to date but with caution!” .

It is important to update your WordPress plugins (just like the themes and the core), whether from the point of view of security or functionality, but never without a real backup and without checking afterwards that everything works. as originally planned.

On the same subject, I warmly recommend reading the following articles and wish you good updates 😉

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