For this post I recruited the expertise of our head WordPress designer and developer, Jefferson Powers.
WordPress is one of the most versatile and easy to use website platforms available today, a notion made all the more impressive by the fact that it is entirely free, open-source software. There are thousands of design themes available, and the core WordPress is relatively easy to customize. One of the things that makes it so versatile is the vast array of third-party plug-ins available, allowing WordPress users to add just about any feature imaginable to their website. Plug-ins can provide anything from a slideshow to a survey form to increased protection from hackers.
The WordPress programmers are constantly improving the software. Small maintenance updates that fix bugs and improve security are common, and two or three times per year there is a major update that will add new features, repair security vulnerabilities, and change the way the software does things, usually for the better. They do their best to test major software updates, but due to the aforementioned vast array of third party themes and plug-ins available, they can’t possibly test for every plug-in and theme. Occasionally software conflicts will occur, and sometimes websites will break.
Usually the first week of a new WordPress version release is the most critical. It is during this time that thousands of WordPress users will update their software, and identify conflicts with plug-ins and themes, and plain old software bugs, that the software developers missed. As these problems are reported, their solutions are incorporated into the next maintenance update, and the one after that, and so on.
It is vitally important for WordPress users to make sure they have the latest version of the software installed, for reasons of security if nothing else. However, when a major update comes along, it is usually best to wait a week or so before updating, just to give them time to identify and correct any major issues that may come up.
And, when updating, don’t forget to make a backup copy of your WordPress files and database!
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Written by Jefferson Powers