How to Update Plugins in WordPress
If you use WordPress as your website platform, chances are you have installed some of the many available and useful WordPress plugins as well. In order to keep your website up and running with minimal issues and to make the most use out of your plugins, you must make sure that your plugins are always up to date. This time around, we will talk about why updating your plugins is so important, and teach you how to update plugins in WordPress using a few different methods.
Why you Should Update Your WordPress Plugins
One of the reasons why WordPress is such a widely used CMS platform is because of the many available third-party plugins that can bring new features to your website and greatly expand its functionality. A plethora of plugins can be found for free in the WordPress.org repository, and many can be upgraded to the premium version as well.
That being said, the WordPress core itself is also constantly changing. With each new WordPress update, the platform becomes more functional, more practical, and more secure than the previous one. Part of the reason why so many plugins get new updates is so they can maintain their compatibility with the newest WordPress version. So, if you make sure to always update your plugins to the latest version, you will avoid running into any compatibility issues when it comes to the latest version of WordPress.
Aside from the WordPress core itself, another major reason why you should keep your plugins up to date is because plugin updates usually bring new features and also serve to fix any present bugs. Even if you currently don’t need any new features, bug fixes that come with many plugin updates are a solid motive to update your plugins. Plugin errors and bugs can cause many issues, from difficulties in using some (if not all) of their features to creating breaches in your website’s security.
So, to sum up – not only do plugin updates help you fix any existing issues and allow you to enjoy fresh functionalities, but they can contribute to your website’s security as a whole.
Now that we’ve looked into some of the benefits of updating your WordPress plugins, let’s see how you can update them in the first place. We will cover the following:
WordPress comes with many built-in admin management systems that make it quite functional and easy to use, no matter your skill and knowledge. One such system is the update system that automatically checks for any available updates and displays notifications when new updates are available. This includes updates for your WordPress core, themes, and plugins.
You can check out these notifications by going to Dashboard >> Updates section in your WordPress Admin area.
Here, among the available WordPress core and theme updates, you will also see a list of plugins that can be updated. You can select one, multiple, or all plugins from this list and then hit the Update Plugins button to update the plugins in question.
Another way to update your plugins is to head directly to the Plugins >> Installed Plugins tab.
If there are any new updates available, a notification with a number of available updates will appear right next to the Plugins menu tab in the Admin bar.
Every plugin with an update will have a notification under it.
Before you proceed with updating any of your plugins, you can view the details of each new version so that you know exactly what changes you can expect.
When you are ready to update your plugin, simply click the update now button and you’re all set.
You can also update multiple plugins at once in case there is more than one plugin update available. There’s a box next to every plugin you can use to select more than one plugin and use bulk options. Once you select all plugins you wish to update, use the Bulk Actions dropdown and select the Update option. Then, click the Apply button.
Finally, we should note that the best practice is to wait a few days before you proceed with updating your plugins since, during this period, the plugin authors usually fix any reported bugs or errors. However, one exception is the security update – we recommend installing this type of update right away.
This is a lightweight but powerful plugin that allows you to manage and automate various types of updates, including your WordPress core, plugins, and themes that come from the WordPress.org repository. And while we do plan to take a look at some of the plugin’s useful options, this time around, we’re mostly going to focus on how you can set automatic updates for your plugins.
Once you install and activate the Easy Updates Manager plugin, the first thing you should do is to go to Dashboard >> Updates Options to access and configure the plugin’s settings. Here, you will be able to configure some specific options regarding your WordPress core, themes, plugins, logs, and more.
In the General tab, you can use a so-called master switch that allows you to enable or disable all updates for your WordPress installation.
You will also get access to some Quick configuration actions that let you quickly change some of the available settings below all at once.
If you want, the General screen also allows you to configure the way you want your WordPress core, themes and plugins to be updated, or you can disable automatic updates altogether.
For example, the Plugin updates section includes the option that lets you update your plugins manually, disable plugin updates (the option that turns off all plugin updates and prevents update notices from being shown), enable auto-updates, or choose per plugin.
If you pick the last option, you will be able to select the plugins which you want to update automatically by going to the Plugins tab.
Once there, you will see a list of all available plugins similar to how they’re listed in your dashboard’s Plugins screen.
Under each plugin, you will notice two options: the first option that lets you Allow or Block plugin updates, and the second one that allows you to enable or disable automatic updates for that specific plugin.
You can set options for each plugin individually, or you can select multiple plugins at once and apply the desired option from the Bulk Actions dropdown.
If you prefer not to use a plugin for this task, another way to enable the automatic update of your plugins is to add a filter into your theme’s functions.php file. Since this is a more advanced and somewhat risky method (considering you’re making direct edits in the theme file), we advise you to use this method only if you’re at least a bit familiar with coding.
Go to Appearance >> Theme Editor and find a file named functions.php.
Once there, insert the following:
After you’re done, hit the Update File button and that’s it – this will trigger the automatic update of all your plugins.
Just keep in mind that you will need to add this snippet again if you end up changing the theme, since it works only for the one you’re currently using.
Sometimes, despite taking extra measures, some plugin updates can still cause unexpected errors and result in some of the plugin features not working correctly. Luckily, if this happens, you have the option to undo your WordPress plugin updates.
First, select the plugin that is causing trouble and choose the Deactivate option.
Then, install and activate the plugin called WP Rollback.
Afterward, you will notice a new option in your Plugins screen called Rollback that will allow you to rollback your plugin to the previous version. You should click on this option.
A new page will open, showing you the version you’ve installed, and all the previous versions.
You can click on the previous version and hit the Rollback button.
This will trigger a notification that lets you know you should do a backup of your WordPress website before moving forward with the rollback.
Once you’ve made sure you can safely proceed with undoing your update, select the Rollback button once again, and that’s it. The latest version of your plugin will be replaced with the previous one.
To say that plugin updates can bring various benefits to your WordPress website would be an understatement. These updates usually contain bug and/or security fixes, and some even come packed with neat new features. If you ask us, these are more than enough reasons to update your WordPress plugins on a regular basis. Now, whether you want to update them manually, opt for the automatic update of only a select few plugins, or simply choose to update them all at once, it’s entirely up to you. In any case, if you end up using one of the methods we mentioned in this guide, updating your plugins will be a no-brainer.
And just one final note before we go – if you have a plugin that comes bundled with one of your WordPress themes, then check if you need to update your WordPress theme first to ensure that the plugin will work correctly.