Or

“I know I should but I don’t want to. After all bad things only happen to other people. Not to me.”

If it ain’t broken don’t try to fix it.

Right? (And remember kids, “ain’t” ain’t a word.)

I agree with the “not broken so don’t fix it” view to a point. The problem with applying this to your WordPress website is that while it may not be broken today if you wait long enough it will be broken.

I’ve heard this before. “My site works fine. Why should I update it?”

I’ve also heard this one. “I know I should update my site but I’m afraid it will break if I do.”

Your website may work now. Your website might break when you update it. Both are true.

Also true:

If you don’t update your site eventually it will break.

Likely the first thing to happen is one or more of your plugins will stop working.

If you don’t update your site it may be hacked or infected. Old versions of WordPress, plugins and themes have security vulnerabilities in them which hackers are looking to exploit. Older WordPress installations are ripe targets for those with malicious intention.

Why do plugins stop working?

Plugins are written to work with a specific version of PHP. Usually the version of PHP which is current when the author is writing the plugin. The version of PHP your website has available is controlled by the hosting company. PHP is like any software. New revisions are released to add functions, fix bugs and patch vulnerabilities.

If you have an old plugin, or a very old version of WordPress, at some point your hosting company is going to upgrade PHP to a version that will no longer run the plugin you have installed. Then your website will not work correctly. Or at all.

WordPress may change the way things work as well. It’s becoming more common for hosting companies to force upgrades of WordPress (yes, they can update WordPress without asking you) to protect their servers from being hacked. Far as I know they are not forcing upgrades of plugins and themes. That means they could update your website to the latest version of WordPress and one or more of your plugins may not work with that version.

If you ever see things that look like this . . .

Notice: has_cap was called with an argument that is deprecated since
 version 2.0! Usage of user levels by plugins and themes is deprecated.
 Use roles and capabilities instead. in
 /hermes/bosnaweb13a/t7309/ipg.home/yourwebsite.com/wp-includes/functions.php
 on line 3495 Notice: has_cap was called with an argument that is
 deprecated since version 2.0! Usage of user levels by plugins and themes
 is deprecated. Use roles and capabilities instead. in
 /hermes/bosnaweb13a/t7309/ipg.home/yourwebsite .com/wp-includes/functions.php
 on line 3495 Notice: has_cap was called with an argument that is
 deprecated since version 2.0! Usage of user levels by plugins and themes
 is deprecated. Use roles and capabilities instead. in
 /hermes/bosnaweb13a/t7309/ipg.home/yourwebsite .com/wp-includes/functions.php
 on line 3495 Notice: has_cap was called with an argument that is
 deprecated since version 2.0! Usage of user levels by plugins and themes
 is deprecated. Use roles and capabilities instead. in
 /hermes/bosnaweb13a/t7309/ipg.home/yourwebsite .com/wp-includes/functions.php
 on line 3495 Notice: has_cap was called with an argument that is
 deprecated since version 2.0! Usage of user levels by plugins and themes
 is deprecated. Use roles and capabilities instead. in
 /hermes/bosnaweb13a/t7309/ipg.home/yourwebsite .com/wp-includes/functions.php
 on line 3495 Notice: has_cap was called with an argument that is
 deprecated since version 2.0! Usage of user levels by plugins and themes
 is deprecated. Use roles and capabilities instead. in
 /hermes/bosnaweb13a/t7309/ipg.home/yourwebsite .com/wp-includes/functions.php
 on line 3495 Notice: Undefined index: name in
 /hermes/bosnaweb13a/t7309/ipg.home/yourwebsite .com/wp-content/plugins/mojo-marketplace-wp-plugin/inc/tests.php
 on line 109

That means your site is broken and you need to be updating.

called with an argument that is deprecated

Means you are using outdated software.

What to do about it?

Once your website is broken the only thing to do is update and hope it starts working again. You should know however that “hope” is not a process. No amount of hope will fix things if they’ve gone wrong beyond repair.

The smarter thing to do, an actual process in fact, is to periodically update your software. And to backup your existing software and database in case something does go wrong during the updating process. Because it can. It hasn’t happened to me personally in years, still things can crash and burn when updating WordPress, a plugin or your theme.

What do you need to know to safely update your WordPress website?

1. How to update plugins, themes and the WordPress core.

Not difficult at all. Click on the update tab in WordPress, check the boxes, hit the update button.

2. How to backup your current software before you update.

Why are you updating?  Because sometimes the update will break something.  Sometimes the update is broken.  Programmers are not perfect.  Sometimes new versions of software introduce new problems.  The updates may not be compatible with other software you have on your site.

There are assorted plugins that will do this for you. You can also manually download your files via FTP.

3. How to backup your database before you update.

Again there are plugins that will do this for you. You can also backup your database via cPanel.

4. How to download the the backups of software and database to your local computer.

Plugins typically automate this to various degrees. Make sure you test the backups to make sure they are valid. At one time I was using a particular plugin to generate backups – until I discovered the archive files it was creating were corrupt.

5. How to restore the software or database if things go wrong.

Restoring is a bit more complex. Yet again there are plugins that will do this for you. You can restore your database via cPanel. You can restore your files via FTP.

6. If things go really really wrong (I’ve had this happen) how to reinstall WordPress without losing all your content and customization.

You can completely replace a broken version of WordPress. It’s simply a matter of knowing which files to not replace.

7. How to fix it if your site become stuck in maintenance mode.

It’s not complicated but you’ll need FTP access to do it. Else you website is stuck in maintenance mode for ever and ever.

Here’s the truth. You can do all this yourself. You can teach yourself all of this.

Or I can teach you. When I build a website for someone I make tutorial videos for them. I always include a video about backing up and updating.

Interested in having me teach you about WordPress? Click here for more information.

Or I can do it for you. Purchase a WordPress Maintenance Plan and twice a month I’ll backup and update your WordPress core, plugins and themes. Any problems that arise as a result of the updates I will fix.

Interested in a maintenance plan? Click here for more information.

Or maybe you are right. Maybe it will never happen to you.