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If you use WordPress to power your websites, there will be times you need to upgrade. Luckily WordPress lets you know this right in the back office of your website. You will get a notification that WordPRess is ready to be updated, and a handy link you can click on to do it. Should you click it as soon as you see it? I am not so sure about that, here are some things to think about:
1. Is the release brand new? If the latest WordPress release is brand new you might want to hold off for awhile. They do a great job of testing and re-testing their releases. Going live always brings up a hiccup or two, it is just the nature of the beast. If you hold off a week or two that will give the WordPress development team time to address any bugs. So for example, instead of upgrading to WordPress 3.0 maybe wait a couple days and see if WordPress 3.1 is going to come out.
2. Backup! Yeah i will admit I have upgraded WordPress before without backing up, and nothing happened. Why tempt fate though? Why take the chance. I know I never want to be the guy on WordPress support forums saying “I didn’t back up my site but…” Make sure you back up your site before an upgrade.
I usually use the cPanel of my host to create a database backup. You will have to figure out how your host handles back ups. I also back up my wp-content folder by downloading it via FTP. I zip it and create a copy to store a couple different places. Lastly, I do an export from the back office of WordPress. I navigate to Tools and then Export. This way I get a small XML file that will cover all of my pages, posts and comments.
3. Plugin Compatibility – One of the best reasons for waiting to see if a release is stable is that it gives plugin developers a chance to catch up. When you upgrade there is always the chance your plugins won’t make it. If you have a certain plugin that you find indispensable, you might want to monitor it to see if it gets updated to match the WordPress upgrade. Some plugins will work fine anyways, and if you keep an eye on the plugin homepage or forums you will find that out as well.
If you remember these three steps or rules, you will have no problem with your WordPress updates. The biggest key is to back up! Years of hard work can be flushed down the toilet if you don’t! Enjoy your WordPress site and may all your updates be smooth and trouble free!