When WordPress 5.5 came out back in October 2020, it came with the ability to set up most of your plugins to automatically update. This is a feature that can be turned on or off. There is some WP management software out there like ManageWp that already have that ability. However, if you are a small business owner with no one managing your website, should you use WordPress automatic update feature?
The short answer to that would be no, but it also depends on how many plugins and what plugins you have. If you have a WordPress site that runs on 20 plugins, and 15 of those plugins have had automatic updates and you are not monitoring your site, this can take your site down. Worse, you would not know which plugin did it. If this has happened to do, here is the simplest solution.
If your Website Host Provider Provides Backups (which most do nowadays), restore the backup of the date you last knew your site was operational.
This will reset the plugins that need to be updated.
Update Each Plugin individually, testing the site after each update. NOTE: Now, if you are a small business or solopreneur that does not have someone watching your site, more than likely you do not have a staging area where you can test each plugin update, so you will have to do this on the live site.
When you find the plugin that breaks the site, go into file manager to find the plugin files, or find the plugin file via FTP. It will be under WPCONTENT>WPPLUGINS. Add the name “old” to the end of the plugin folder name. This should restore the site. Note: You will not have that plugin’s function.
If you have found the plugin that causes problems with your site, but you can still get to the admin, you can alternatively install a rollback plugin and roll back the plugin in question to a previous version.
With all that being said, remember earlier I said it depends on how many plugins, etc. If you are running a fairly simple site with just a few plugins, though I don’t recommend it, you SHOULD be ok if you do. But if you do you still run the risks stated above.
What Are the Solutions?
If you have the time and the resources, the best option is to have an exact copy of your website on a development server. Update the plugins one at a time on the development server to make sure your site stays ok with each update. Once you have run through your update and checked everything out on the development server, then you can quickly run through your updates on your live site with relative confidence that it should be good to go.
If you don’t have a development server version, I recommend using a management software like ManageWp AND have a second backup option like UpdraftPlus, just in case. The procedure would be the same as described above, it just doesn’t have the safety net of testing the plugins on a different version of your website first.
Our recommended solution, however, is to get a WordPress (WP) Care plan. With a WP Care Plan, you will not have to work about babysitting when you need to update WP core, plugins, or themes. When you get a WP Care Plan such as ours at Hughbanks Design, updates and troubleshooting is done for you, so you can focus on running your business and less on what happens if a plugin breaks the site or you lose a function. If you’re a business that has a website as a major part of marketing or sales, your bottom line will thank you for not having disruption.