Lately, we've come across a ton of outdated and insecure WordPress websites. Most of these websites have been behind on their security updates for at least the last two years!
What does this mean? Well, these websites aren't protected from the viruses, malware, and ransomware that have been created in the last two years, which has been quite a lot. They also don't function as well as they could or should. These websites are in dire need of updates. If updates haven't been applied for a while, we suspect that either the developer doesn't actually maintain the website or the website was created and then left on its own.
So, if your website hasn't been updated in a while, how can you bring it back up to par? Believe it or not, there is a correct process to follow when installing updates for your WordPress website.
Use a Test Website
In order to ensure that you apply your updates in the correct way, it's recommended that you make a test website. A test website is a copy of your current live website, but it isn't available for the public to see. A test website is the perfect place to apply all your Wordpress updates, plugins, and themes first, so you can make sure everything runs smoothly afterword, and the website doesn't break. The last thing you want is to break your live production website!
If you apply a bunch of updates at once and then see your website either break unexpectedly as a result or be replaced by a plain white screen, feel free to contact us. We'll help get your website back to normal again.
Check Your Licenses
Another important thing to do BEFORE applying updates to your website is to review the licenses that are associated with your current theme and plugins. Conduct an inventory and see what's valid and what's expired. If you apply an updated version of WordPress to your website, and it isn't compatible with your current theme and plugins, then your updates could be limited or even blocked.
Run Plenty of Tests
We recommend applying your website's updates in the following order, first to your test website:
Once these updates are applied to your test website, it's time for run a few tests to ensure everything is working correctly. Try answering the following questions:
- Can you log out and back in without any issues?
- Browsing through your website, does anything seem out of place, is missing, or looks funny?
- Test the website's web forms. Do the notifications get sent out as their supposed to?
- Test normal day-to-day functionality as well as custom. Does everything still work?
Once your website's functionality has been tested, we recommend reviewing its theme. Does everything look like it's still in the right place? Has anything changed or now looks broken? Be sure to run your tests a desktop computer first, and then try testing using a mobile device as well.
Create a Backup
Once your updates have been applied to your test website and thoroughly tested for flaws, it's time to carry out the same process with your live production website. But, before doing anything else, you MUST first make a backup of the database and code on your production website. It's never worth it to risk losing the time, effort, and money it's taken to make your website; always remember to back up your data!
Once your backup is finished, it's finally time to update and test your new updates on your current live website. And, voila! Your WordPress website is now up to date and much safer than it was before.
If you have any questions, or you'd like help setting up your own test website, please don't hesitate to contact us!