Should you update your WordPress version with every new release?
We recently received an email from a client, asking us if she should get her website updated since her Wordpress website was "operating on an outdated version." Below is some clarity about versions of Wordpress.
I informed the client that the site is updated to the latest update of their WP version. Just like all software, updates are provided for security reasons.
I gently explained to our client to check out the WP latest release page
Her version is WP 5.3.3 -- which was released in April 29, 2020
The newer WP version is 5.4.1 -- which was also released in April 29, 2020
Both versions have were updated on the same date.
This was the best analogy I could provide: Imagine buying an iPhone X, and then after a year the iPhone 11 comes out. So iPhone 11 is the newest release but then they also provide a software update for the iPhone X -- ensuring that it's secure. Does that mean your iPhone X is an older version, sure -- but it doesn't make it less secure. You can definitely update to the iPhone 11 but its cost-prohibitive.
Updating to the latest release is for security purposes and yes you always want your website to be secure.
We always build websites using the latest release. Does that mean you update every time a new version comes out -- yes it's possible but expensive. Wordpress updates every month. Sometimes multiple times per month. It would be expensive to update the version every single time. So instead, we ensure that all the websites we manage are secure -- whenever someone mentions that you have to update your WP version frequently -- they probably don't understand that version updates provide the same level of security. When Wordpress stops supporting the version is when you definitely need to update the version on your website. We require our clients to update versions yearly. When signing up for our managed hosting package, the Website's WP version is updated to the latest version update.
Aside from the WP version, there are also multiple plugins that need updating. For the purpose of this article, below is a table that includes all the plugins we used in one of our client's websites. To understand this table, this blog was written on June 10, 2020
|Name||Current Version||Version Available||Release Date|
|Wordpress||5.3.3||5.4.1||April 29, 2020|
|Akismet Anti-Spam||4.1.3||4.1.6||5 days ago|
|All 404 Redirect to Homepage||1.8||1.19||2 months ago|
|Contact Form 7||5.1.6||5.1.9||3 weeks ago|
|Cookie Notice||1.2.51||1.3.2||3 weeks ago|
|Duplicator||1.3.24||1.3.34||3 weeks ago|
|Easy WP SMTP||18.104.22.168||22.214.171.124||2 months ago|
|Elementor||2.7.5||2.9.11||1 week ago|
|Font Awesome||4.0.0-rc13||4.0.0-rc20||2 months ago|
|JCH Optimize Pro||2.5.2||2.6.2||1 month ago|
|JetElements For Elementor||2.1.5||2.2.16||June 9, 2020|
|Max Mega Menu||2.7.3||2.8||1 week ago|
|Ninja Forms||3.4.23||126.96.36.199||3 weeks ago|
|Post SMTP||2.0.11||2.0.12||3 weeks ago|
|Protect WP-Admin||3.0.3||3.2||2 weeks ago|
|Read More||2.4.2||2.5.1||2 weeks ago|
|Really Simple SSL||3.2.9||3.3.3||1 day ago|
|ReCaptcha v2 for Contact Form 7||1.2.4||1.2.6||2 months ago|
|Simple Author Box||2.3.16||2.3.18||2 months ago|
|Under Construction||3.65||3.75||1 week ago|
|Widget Shortcode||0.3.4||0.3.5||1 month ago|
|Wordfence Security||7.4.2||7.4.7||2 months ago|
|WP Fastest Cache||0.9.0.1||0.9.0.7||1 day ago|
|WP Fastest Cache Premium||1.5.5||1.5.8||2 months ago|
|WP Mail SMTP||1.8.1||2.1.1||1 day ago|
|WP Website Antivirus Protection (by SiteGuarding.com)||2.1||2.2||1 week ago|
|Yoast SEO||14.2||14.3||11 hours ago|
Plugins need to be updated yearly. They all have their individual updates and release dates. We customize some of these plugins when working on websites since everyone has individual requirements that are unique to their business. When we update the website yearly, we also update all the plugins and make sure they work with the newest version. We also ensure all plugins are compatible with the latest WP release.
We strongly recommend updating WP versions yearly at a minimum -- more if there is a security patch or malware alert. If WP is still providing releases for your version, which means it's safe and secure to use, then you don't need to update to the latest version. This will save costs on updating the customized modules, plugins, and components.
We update all our Client's websites once per year with the latest stable release -- this is part of our managed hosting services. This happens during this month June -- August. We bill per hour on updates and the cost depends on how many customized plugins your website has. Normally it takes 3 to 5 hours with QA and browser compatibility. This ensures your website is secure for another year.