It seems like WordPress releases a lot of updates and they do! They releases major updates about three times a year. There are many minor updates released between those major versions, and that is just with the WordPress core. If you add up the core updates along with theme and plugin updates, well they can start to be time consuming. Regardless, you should always stay on top of these updates for the following reasons:
WordPress powers 29% of all websites on the internet. That makes it a big target. More than 1 in 4 websites are running on WordPress. That is HUGE. And hackers are constantly working to find vulnerabilities at the server and website level. Those vulnerabilities will allow them to exploit your site. Now the good part is that not all hackers are bad. There are many more good hackers than bad ones, which means that security experts around the world can study the code and properly report security bugs / fixes. Every time a security vulnerability is reported, the core WordPress team works diligently to release an update that fixes the issue.
This means that if you are not using the latest version of WordPress, then you are using software with known security vulnerabilities. Hackers can search for websites running the older version, and you may become a victim of a sophisticated attack. Not only can WordPress itself be exploited, plugins can also be exploited by hackers. You need to make sure that all your WordPress plugins, themes, and the core itself is always up to date.
Speed and Performance Upgrades
Optimizations in site speed, resource use and improvements to overall performance are constantly being added as well. WordPress developers are always trying to make things faster. Each new release comes with several performance improvements that makes WordPress run faster and more efficient. For example, WordPress 4.2 improved JS performance for navigation menus, and WordPress 4.1 improved complex queries which helped with performance of sites using those queries. Since speed is a huge factor in SEO, you should definitely keep your WordPress updated to ensure maximum performance benefits.
Updates are not just for doing damage control: WordPress is constantly working to build out new features that its users will find useful. Every year, there is a new default theme that ships with WordPress. For example, WordPress version 4.7 shipped with the theme “Twenty Seventeen”, which has a focus on business sites and features multiple sections on the homepage, immersive video and featured image headers. But feature updates aren’t just fun new bells and whistles – they can be language support, new accessibility solutions, greater user experience, or support for new software versions.
New versions of WordPress are not *just* about keeping bad guys out. They are also about making it easier and more enjoyable for you to use, and about giving your audience a better experience. If you stay on an old version of WordPress, you miss out on these new features. There are often small glitches that are discovered after a major update. A lot of these are not known until people start using the new version in their own unique way, and these bugs are addressed as they are discovered in the form of small maintenance updates.
Backup, Backup, BACKUP
Often plugin and theme developers coordinate their updates with major WordPress releases to ensure they are taking advantage of newly available features and enhancements. However in some cases, an update can break your existing WordPress plugins if they were not following the best practices and coding standards. This is why it is crucial that you keep regular WordPress backups. Plus regular backups will insure that if anything goes wrong, you can get back up and running in the least amount of time possible.
Don’t feel like you have enough time to stay on top of this monotonous part of your website? Let me do it for you!