Updates

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The Help site needs to be updated on a regular basis, which involves updating:

  • WordPress
  • Themes
  • Plugins
Updates overview

Updates overview

You can update WordPress, themes, and plugins on the Help site’s Updates screen.

There are times when you won’t be able to update items from the Update screen:

  • When an update fails from the Updates screen.
  • When you need to upload a zip file containing the updated version.
  • When you need to activate or deactivate an item before running the update.

Updates screen

The Updates screen will display WordPress, theme, and plugin updates. You can update all of them on the Updates screen.

Note: You can run multiple updates simultaneously but the updates have to be the same type, such as all plugin updates.

To run updates from the Updates screen:

  1. On the Dashboard, select Updates.
  2. On the Updates screen, navigate to and select the item you want to update, and then select Update.

On the Updates screen also allows you to:

  • See which version of WordPress you are running.
  • Re-install the current version of WordPress.

Important: Re-installing WordPress is something you would do only if everything else has failed. This is truly a last resort.

WordPress and theme updates

WordPress and WordPress theme updates aren’t nearly as frequent as plugin updates, but when WordPress and theme updates are released, it’s good practice to update them as soon as you can to avoid security, compatibility, and performance issues.

Plugin updates

The WP Engine Smart Plugin Manager automatically updates the Help site’s plugins. However, there are times when automatic updates fail, requiring you to perform a manual update.

When an automatic plugin update fails, you can manually update the plugin(s) a couple of different ways:

  • Manually update one or more plugins on the Plugins screen.
  • Manually update a plugin by downloading a zip file from the developer’s site and uploading it to the Help site.
Data retention

Data retention

When performing manual updates, there are times you will need to deactivate, delete, re-install, and activate plugins and themes before manually installing the updated version. If you have to delete an item, the important thing to note concerns data retention. Some themes and plugins will retain data when you delete them but others won’t.

Important: Always double-check if WordPress retains data for particular themes and plugins before deleting them. If you can’t find out if deleting an item will wipe out its data, contact the creator through their website before proceeding.

Pro plugins

Pro versions of plugins almost always require you to also have the free version installed. Most—but not all—of the time, deleting and uploading an updated version of the pro version won’t affect data as long as the free version remains installed and activated. This differs from plugin to plugin, though, so you should still always double-check before deleting the plugin.

Updates evaluation

Evaluate updates before updating

It’s important to keep everything on the Help site updated, but before running an update, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself:

  • How significant is this update?
  • Is this the proper time of the day to run an update?
  • Should I create a backup point before running the update?

How significant is this update?

This is an important consideration before running an update. In fact, answering this question might answer the other two questions, as well.

To determine how significant an update is, compare the version number of the item you currently have installed to the version number of the updated plugin.

Example versions:

  • 2
  • 2.3
  • 2.3.1

Judge an update by its number

Typically, themes and plugins that have been around for a bit have at least a three-digit version (2.3.1). The number that will change after the update is a good indicator of how significant the update is.

Let’s use version 2.3.1 as an example.

  • If the first number (2) will change after the update, it’s a significant update.
  • If the second number (3) will change after the update, it’s a less significant update but could still be fairly large.
  • If the third number (1) will change after the update, it’s not a significant update and most likely contains security patches and minor fixes.

Based on the significance of the update, you can answer the next two questions.

Is this the proper time of the day to run an update?

There are two times you can run updates:

  • During business hours.
  • After business hours.

You can run updates during business hours, but remember, during the update process, the Help site will be in Maintenance Mode, meaning no one can access it.

Note: When the site goes into Maintenance Mode during the update process, visitors will still be able to view their current screen but won’t be able to access other screens.

Wait until after business hours to run updates when there are:

  • Several updates.
  • Significant updates.

Should I create a backup point before running the update?

Yes! Without a doubt, yes. This is sort of a trick question because you should always create a backup checkpoint before updating plugins, themes, or WordPress itself.

Learn how to create a WP Engine backup checkpoint.

Plugin options

Update options

Tip: For additional information on adding new plugins and updating existing plugins, see WPBeginner’s How to Install a WordPress Plugin post.

You can update a plugin two ways:

  • Using the Plugins screen.
  • Uploading a zip file.

Important: While a plugin is updating, the site is automatically put into Maintenance mode, which means it will be temporarily unavailable (usually 5-10 seconds per plugin).

Plugins screen

Update plugins on the Plugins screen

On the Plugins screen, you can update plugins one at a time or several simultaneously.

Update a single plugin

To manually update a single plugin on the Plugins screen:

  1. On the Dashboard, select Plugins.
  2. On the Plugins screen, navigate to the plugin you want to update, and then, in the There is a new version of [plugin] available note, select update now.

Note: While a plugin is updating, the site is automatically put into Maintenance mode, which means it will be temporarily unavailable (usually 5-10 seconds per plugin).

Update multiple plugins

To manually update a single plugin on the Plugins screen:

  1. On the Dashboard, select Plugins.
  2. On the Plugins screen, complete the following steps:
    1. Select each plugin you want to update.
      Note: Each plugin with an available update will have an update note in its box.
    2. At the top of the screen, in the Bulk Actions dropdown list, select Update.
    3. To the right of the Bulk Actions dropdown list, select Apply.

Note: While the plugins are updating, the site is automatically put into Maintenance mode, which means it will be temporarily unavailable (usually 5-10 seconds per plugin).

Zip file update

Update a plugin from a zip file

Every once in a while, a plugin won’t update on the Plugins screen for whatever reason. When this happens, you will need to download a fresh install of the plugin as a zip file on the developer’s site and then upload it to the Help site.

To update a single plugin from a zip file:

  1. On the site of the company that developed the plugin, navigate to the plugin downloads (usually under Downloads or Plugins), and then download the zip file of the latest update (or the version you want to install).
  2. In WordPress, either follow the specific instructions on the plugin developer’s site or continue following the steps below.
  3. On the WordPress Dashboard, select Plugins, and then select Installed Plugins.
  4. On the Plugins screen, navigate to the plugin you want to update, and then select Deactivate.

Warning: Before you delete a plugin, double-check with the developer that the plugin’s data will remain in the WP database after you delete the plugin. Most plugins keep their data in the database after deletion, but you should always check before deleting a plugin.

  1. Once the plugin is deactivated, select Delete.
  2. At the top of the screen, select Add New.
  3. On the Add Plugins screen, select Upload Plugin.
  4. In the file box, select Choose File, navigate to and select the zip file you downloaded, and then select Open.
  5. In the file box, select Install Now.
  6. Select Plugins, and then select Installed Plugins.
  7. On the Plugins screen, navigate to the plugin you uploaded, and then select Activate if it isn’t already activated.
Ajax Search Pro

Update Ajax Search Pro

Note: The Ajax Search Pro plugin often fails to update on the Plugins screen.

If the Ajax Search Pro plugin fails to update:

  1. On the Plugins screen, select the other update option (see steps below).
  2. On Ajax’s documentation site, follow the update instructions.

To manually update the Ajax Search Pro plugin on the Plugins screen:

  1. On the Dashboard, select Plugins.
  2. On the Plugins screen, navigate to the plugin you want to update, and then, in the There is a new version of Ajax Search Pro available note, select Update Ajax Search Pro now.

Note: While a plugin is updating, the site is automatically put into Maintenance mode, which means it will be temporarily unavailable (usually 5-10 seconds per plugin).

If the above method fails, follow the instructions on Ajax’s documentation site:

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