The next step toward helping keep your site secure after backing everything up is to update WordPress and plugins to the latest versions.
Another reason to have a good backup plan in place is sometimes when updating the WordPress core and plugins it’s possible there will be conflicts that can completely break a site.
Having a recent backup, especially one taken right before updating everything can save you a lot of valuable time and hassle as you will be able to just restore your site to the latest backup.
Once you have backups in place and you have made your first full backup of your files and database you can go ahead and update WordPress and plugins. If you don’t have regular backups scheduled, check out this post for guidance.
- Go to the Dashboard > Updates and check for updates
- Update WordPress to the latest version and wait for it to do its thing
- You will be redirected to a page if successful outlining the new version you just updated to
Now you can update the plugins
- Plugins > Update Available tab and tick all the boxes.
- The latest version of WordPress will do the updates right there on the page.
Once everything is updated and you are able to navigate around the admin area as normal open up the front page of your website and navigate around to test if things are working ok.
Most of the time things will go smoothly and everything will be up to date and working just fine. In the rare instances where something has broken or you just see a blank white screen there are a few quick things you can do to get back up and running.
What if my site is broken after updating everything?
The quickest way to get back online is to try and restore to the most recent backup but there are some things you can try first.
Go to the file manager in your hosting control panel and navigate to /public_html/wp-content/plugins/ and rename the plugins folder to something like pluginsx (just something different to plugins). This can help to narrow the issue down to be plugin related.
Refresh your browser and check the site. If it works but is missing some things then you may have an issue with a plugin.
The next step is to rename plugins folder back to plugins then go into the folder and rename each plugin folder to something different e.g. plugin-name-x
Now name each folder back to the original name and refresh the website after each time you rename a plugin folder.
Most of the time you will notice one plugin which, when enabled, causes the site to break. You can leave the problematic plugin folder renamed while you dig a little deeper to find what the issue is.
At least for now your site is working just without the functionality of the problematic plugin.
Hopefully the entire site doesn’t hinge off this plugin but usually if an issue is caused by a plugin it will be well known in the WordPress community and it will be fixed with an update soon.
Backup your site and update WordPress and all plugins to the latest versions.
If everything went well, as it usually does, congratulations! You have just backed up and updated your WordPress site. Nice going!