How To Update WordPress: The Ultimate Guide
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How To Update WordPress: The Ultimate Guide

If you’re looking for tips on how to update WordPress websites, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll show you how to do just that. Whether you’re updating the WordPress core, themes, or plugins — everything will be explained.

Why Update WordPress?

If you still have doubts, keep in mind that updating your WordPress website comes with its advantages:

  • Better security — updates fix bugs and security vulnerabilities that the old versions might have.
  • Speed — you’ll experience improved website loading speed and performance with each new version of WordPress.
  • Compatibility — with new updates, your site ought to be more compatible with the latest themes, plugins, and web technologies.
  • Functionality — there’ll be more features and options that you can use to upgrade or scale up your website.

Before Updating

Before making any changes to your WordPress site, it’s essential to prepare for any possible cases. With that being said, here are the two steps that you should take in advance:

  • Create full WordPress backups  — errors happen at the unlikeliest of times. Backups prevent permanent file loss and act as fallback plans if things go haywire when you’re modifying or updating your website.
  • Deactivate all of your plugins  — there are times when new changes in WordPress are not compatible with certain plugins that you have. This can result in an inaccessible website. By deactivating them, you can forestall the issue from happening once you update WordPress.

How to Update the WordPress Core

Here are four methods to update the WordPress core:

Method 1: Updating WordPress via the Admin Dashboard

This is by far the easiest way to update WordPress as it’s only a click away. All you have to do is log in to your WordPress dashboard. Then, check if there is any core update notification at the top of the page.

Click Please update now to initiate the process. If it’s a minor update, you will be directed to a success message along with the plugin and theme update options. This image shows you the WordPress update notification on the dashboardOn the other hand, if it’s a major update, you will see the WordPress welcome screen with a detailed description of what has been upgraded in the new version.this image shows you what you'll see after you update your WordPress to the latest major update Now you can proceed to update all of your themes and plugins to make sure they are compatible with your enhanced WordPress site.

Method 2: Updating WordPress Manually via FTP

Manually updating WordPress comes in handy when you can’t do so via the admin dashboard for some reason.  For this, you can either use an FTP client or the File Manager tool on your hosting panel. All you need is access to your WordPress root directory.

You’ll have to overwrite the old WordPress core files with the new ones. Follow these steps to do it via FileZilla:

  1. Download the latest WordPress version and unzip the files on your computer using WinRar or WinZip.
  2. Access the WordPress extracted folder and delete the wp-config-sample.php file and wp-content folder to avoid losing any important data in the process.
  3. Connect your site to FileZilla. Check this tutorial to see how you can do it.
  4. Log in to the FTP client. Find the existing web host wp-admin and wp-includes directories on the right panel, then right-click to Delete them.
  5. On the left panel, select the new wp-includes and wp-admin folder, then choose Upload.This image shows you how to upload files from your computer to your web host directory via an FTP client
  6. Upload the rest of the WordPress unzipped files on your computer to the web host directory. Overwrite the old files by uploading new ones to the server.
  7. When a confirmation screen pops out, put a check on the Always use this action and Apply to current queue only columns. this image shows you how to overwrite files quickly via an FTP client

When the files are all uploaded, go to yoursite.com/wp-admin/upgrade.php/ to check if everything is updated!

Important: Don’t be in a rush to replace everything inside the WordPress root directory. You can easily break your site if you do this. Make sure to follow the tutorial carefully.

Method 3: Updating WordPress via WP-CLI

If you’re reading this, we assume you already have SSH access to your WordPress root directory in the public_html folder.

If you are not sure how to access your account via SSH, see this tutorial. Once everything is configured, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Use the cd command on PuTTy to switch to your WordPress root directory by adding this line:
    cd public_html
  2. Check if there’s a new version of WordPress using this command:
    wp core check-update
  3. If there’s a new update, here’s what it will look like.
    +---------+-------------+---------------------------------------------------------------+
    | version | update_type | package_url                                                 |
    +---------+-------------+---------------------------------------------------------------+
    | #.#.#   | minor       | https://downloads.wordpress.org/release/wordpress-#.#.#.zip |
    | #.#.#   | major       | https://downloads.wordpress.org/release/wordpress-#.#.#.zip |
    +---------+-------------+---------------------------------------------------------------+
    
  4. If there are no updates available, you will see “Success: WordPress is at the latest version” instead.
  5. Now, to start the update, run the following line:
    wp core update
  6. Wait for the program to complete, and your WordPress will be updated automatically.

Now that you know how to update the core files via WP-CLI let’s update your database, theme, and plugins! Here are the commands to run:

  • Database: wp core update-db
  • Themes: wp theme update --all
  • Plugins: wp plugin update --all

When the program is done processing, run the commands once again to check if everything is already updated! Here’s what it should look like: this image shows you what a success wordpress update looks like on PuTTy

Method 4: Updating WordPress Automatically

WordPress immediately updates its sites when there are minor releases. But, did you know you can also set major releases to be automatically updated as well?

It’s not a complicated process at all too! If you’re not a fan of coding, you can easily set up auto-updates using a plugin such as Easy Updates Manager. To learn how to install WordPress plugins, check out this tutorial.

You can also enable automatic WP core updates by adding a line of code to your wp-config.php file. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Login to hPanel and go to File Manager under the Files section.
  2. Once you’re in public_html folder, scroll down and select the wp-config.php.
  3. Press the Edit button on the top menu.
  4. Add define('WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE', true);, then click Save.

How to Update WordPress Themes and Plugins

You will do yourself a great disservice if you leave your themes and plugins unattended while updating your WordPress core files. Not only they might cause fatal WordPress errors, but they can also stop working properly and mess with your site’s functionality.

To update your plugins and themes from your WordPress admin dashboard, navigate to Updates by hovering the Dashboard menu.

Clicking this menu item leads you to the updates screen where you can update your themes and plugins with a simple click.this image shows you how to update plugins from Updates feature on WordPress dashboard

Note: Updating your WordPress theme will get rid of all the customizations you’ve made to the theme. Avoid losing them by using a child theme instead of editing the parent theme directly.

Conclusion

Before you sign off, here’s a quick recap of the methods:

  • Updating through Admin Dashboard  — clicking on an automatic update message and let WordPress runs the process for you.
  • Updating manually via an FTP client  — overwriting the old core files with new ones downloaded from the latest WordPress version.
  • Updating using SSH and WP-Cli — running commands on PuTTy to update WordPress core files, database, themes, and plugins.
  • Enabling WordPress automatic updates  — editing wp-config.php via File Manager on hPanel.

Pretty easy, right? Learning how to update WordPress without breaking your site is a must-have skill for every website owner. We hope this tutorial will help you learn how to do it flawlessly. Good luck!

The Author

Author

Domantas G. / @domantas

Domantas leads the content and SEO teams forward with fresh ideas and out of the box approaches. Armed with extensive SEO and marketing knowledge, he aims to spread the word of Hostinger to every corner of the world. During his free time, Domantas likes to hone his web development skills and travel to exotic places.

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