The core WordPress software and any additional plugins and themes that your site may include continually get updated. These updates add new features, increase computability and patch security issues or vulnerabilities. One such vulnerability was discovered this week (click here for details), so now is a good time to make sure all your software is up to date.
Most updates can be accomplished with the click of a button, but it is a very good idea to back up your site first. Once in a while an update can cause a plugin to work differently or to interfere with another plugin. If this happens you can restore your backup; the site will continue to work until you have time to solve whatever problem the update caused. It is important to go back and solve the issue soon, so that your site will be secure and up to date.
I use the free plugin, UpdraftPlus for backups. Sometimes I make two backups just to be sure. The database is the most important part of the backup. You can download the backups to your computer for extra safe keeping. Under “Settings” go the “UpdraftPlus Backups” click “Restore” then click each of the elements that you want to download (database, plugins, themes, etc.). When each element loads, click “Download to your computer” for each.
Even if you are not updating software it is a good idea to backup your site whenever you add a lot of new content. It’s rare, but sites do get hacked; if this happens to you, you will have to restore a backup from before the hack occurred. If you added a lot of new material since that backup was made, you will need to add it again after the old backup is restored. In other words, you will lose all the work you did on your site since the last backup.
Theme updates are most likely to cause changes to the look of your website and should be handled with extra care. I use premium themes for most of my sites, and these need to be manually updated. This is more complicated and I usually take care of it for my clients. I recommend that the theme be updated twice a year. I can do a complete backup and completely update your site in 1.5 hours.