Why You Should Always Use the Latest Version of WordPress
Even though WordPress is the most popular platform for website creation, there are still a lot of webmasters who are unsure about updating WordPress and even purposefully leave their WordPress website severely outdated. This means they are missing out on a lot of very practical benefits and leaving themselves open to problems. So, we put together this article explaining why everyone should use the latest version of WordPress on their website. Hopefully, by the end, you will be convinced of the importance of keeping your WordPress website properly updated. With that being said, let’s begin.
Benefits of using the latest version of WordPress
There are quite a few reasons why you should always update WordPress to its latest version. However, in this article, we will focus on the most important ones—improving security and website speed, solving bugs, remaining compatible with other aspects of your website such as plugins and themes, as well as adding new features that improve your website. So, without further ado, let’s take a closer look at each of them.
The massive popularity of WordPress as a content management system (CMS) has its downsides. WordPress websites suffer the majority of hacking attacks and are a frequent target for hackers in general. This is because WordPress is an open-source project, so anyone can see the code that powers it. While this means anyone can contribute to its improvement, it also means hackers are free to analyse the code to find any security vulnerabilities or backdoors.
However, not all hackers are malicious—some study WordPress’ code to find and report any security vulnerabilities. Then the WordPress team diligently reviews these reports and provides quick updates that address the issues that have been raised. All of this serves to limit the potential damage malicious hackers could cause.
For those fixes created by the WordPress team to work properly, you need to update WordPress on your website regularly. Websites with outdated WordPress versions are easy prey for hackers. They can figure out your current WordPress version and simply use a known vulnerability that was fixed in a later version of WordPress. Regularly updating WordPress reduces the success rate of those hacking attacks and improves your website security as a whole.
Solving major and minor bugs
Despite all the work invested into it, there isn’t a single piece of software without bugs and issues that might hinder its functionality. As such, it’s important to constantly improve and resolve any bugs that are found. Through meticulous testing, the WordPress team strives to fix any newly discovered bugs and share the patches via each subsequent version.
This doesn’t mean all WordPress updates run smoothly. However, the WordPress team is often quick to react to issues by releasing minor updates that address the minor bugs, such as issues with specific plugins or even the previous major update. By updating WordPress, you can improve your website’s working experience overall.
On the other hand, if you choose not to update WordPress, you will have to deal with the bugs on your own. At the same time, you would be risking potential hacking attacks that want to exploit the known bugs that you haven’t updated against.
Adding new features
As WordPress grew in popularity, its user base diversified and, as a result, its list of features increased to make website creation easier. Nowadays, each major WordPress version comes with its own set of new features and improvements. For example, WordPress 5.0 introduced Gutenberg as its new default editor, which has even been improved and made more user-friendly in later versions. WordPress 5.1 brought us the Site Health screen, while WordPress 5.2 included PHP error protection, both of which are used to combat configuration issues on the website.
Additionally, the latest versions of WordPress include features that make managing WordPress websites more beginner-friendly. Some of these features are default sitemaps in WordPress 5.5, automatic updates in WordPress 5.6, and easier switching from HTPP to HTTPS in the WordPress 5.7 update.
And there will be many more features to come, all of them designed to make your experience of using WordPress even more enjoyable. As such, you should update your WordPress installation regularly to take advantage of the constantly evolving software.
Improving website speed
Besides resolving security vulnerabilities, WordPress updates incorporate small improvements to website speed and performance. A faster website can reduce your bounce rate, let you rank better, and benefit your website’s SEO overall. As both speed and performance are immensely important for the success of any website, updating WordPress to its latest version can only work to your benefit.
Every major WordPress update tends to elicit an update to themes and plugins. This is done to take advantage of newly introduced features and to address any compatibility issues that have occurred. Alongside WordPress, you should regularly update your plugins and theme(s), if you want to maintain full compatibility across all aspects of your website.
However, before updating it, you should also back up your website. And it’s recommended practice to do so regularly. Major WordPress updates can cause issues with your plugins or theme, which makes having a backup of your website essential. It will ensure that your data is safe if anything goes wrong with or during the WordPress update.
If you avoid updating WordPress, you risk making your website less efficient at best and running into insurmountable compatibility issues with your plugins and themes at worst.
Keeping your WordPress updated properly
Having covered the major reasons why it’s important to regularly update WordPress, let’s touch on the update process itself. First, WordPress has a built-in system for update notifications. It’s located in the Dashboard > Updates section of your admin dashboard. The same section contains notifications on any pending plugin and theme updates.
This makes checking for available updates very easy. Simply log in to your dashboard regularly and check if you have any pending updates. When you find an available update, you will be able to install it using a suitable button within that section.
Speaking of updating WordPress core files, this is more than one way of doing so. You can run the update manually, by overriding the files via FTP, or by enabling automatic updates. Whatever method you choose, we urge you to make a backup beforehand. This will ensure that nothing happens to your website because of a faulty WordPress update, as you will be able to simply restore it using the backup.
Additionally, you should be aware that automatic updates come with both pros and cons. Therefore, if you opt to use them as a method of updating WordPress, you should get informed first. Then you can decide whether to enable them, enable them just for minor updates, or disable the automatic updates completely.
In this article, we outlined the most important reasons why it’s best to always use the latest version of WordPress. These include improving your website’s security, solving bugs, adding new features, improving website speed, and remaining fully compatible with all accompanying software. Other than looking at the benefits of making regular updates, we also touched on the different ways you can use to perform the updates properly. Avoid missing out on amazing benefits offered by the latest version of WordPress and start practicing regular updates and backups.