A question we get frequently from clients (and prospective clients) is “Do I need to install updates for WordPress, plugins, and my theme?” The answer is an unwavering “Yes!“, and it’s because updates do the following:
- Increase the security of your website
- Fix bugs that could cause unintended behaviour of your website
- Add features and functionality to your site
Web applications such as WordPress are software, just like your operating system (Windows or Mac OS) or smartphone apps, and and in the same way you need to upgrade those periodically WordPress also needs some attention to keep it up to date and running at it's best. Let’s take a quick look at why keeping your WordPress website up to date is important.
Increase the security of your website
Updates to WordPress core, plugins, and themes often increase security by patching vulnerabilities that have been uncovered and strengthening your site against attacks. To reduce the risk of your site being hacked or compromised in some other way you need to update!
When any WordPress expert talks about security, one of the first things they mention is the need to install updates. Hackers and other malicious parties watch the release notes (the information that's provided when a new version of software such as WordPress is released). As soon as they learn of a vulnerability, they start exploiting it. So you need to update as soon as possible to reduce the time that your site is vulnerable and open to attack.
WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg puts it best when he implores users to update WordPress in How to Keep WordPress Secure.
For a recent example, see the release notes for the WordPress 4.5.3 Maintenance and Security Release, which state:
"WordPress 4.5.3 is now available. This is a security release for all previous versions and we strongly encourage you to update your sites immediately."
Fix bugs that could cause unintended behaviour of your website
Updates to WordPress core, plugins, and themes often fix bugs that were found in previous versions of the software after it was released. To get the fixed version, you need to update!
Add features and functionality to your site
Updates to WordPress core, plugins, and themes also frequently add new features and functionality. To take advantage of them, you need to (you guessed it) update!