WordPress: Should You Turn Off Automatic Updates?

"The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency...

...the second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency"

Bill Gates

Isn't it Simply Fabulous!! WordPress Will Now Update Your Software Automatically - YAY!

It sounds ideal.  No more remembering to update WordPress software because you can just let WordPress do it all for you.

Updating the WordPress software, (WordPress itself, the plugins and the theme) is a bit like servicing a car.  If you don't do it, then it may be ok, but it's the Schrodinger's Cat approach to website care - it may be alright, it may not be, but we won't really know until something happens.

What we do know is that security, speed and all the bits working depend on up to date software.

Plus, developers release improvements and seal up security vulnerabilities in these new releases.

Which rather begs the question as to why we would want to turn off the automatic updates.   It should make our job caring for your website easier - so let's turn on that switch! Wordfence does a good job of explaining the technical details behind automatic updates so here's a link to their WordPress Updates article,  but we like to keep it a bit simpler here.

So, What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

The main problem is how the software that makes your website work and looking good, the plugins and the theme, don't always work well together. Conflicts happen.  Sometimes they seem to happen spontaneously, but most often it's when we press the updates button that it goes wrong.  It's not uncommon to update a plugin only to find the whole site has stopped working.

Unless you put all of your eggs in one basket and work with one developer who creates a bespoke theme and plugins for you, all coded so they sync perfectly with one another (for which you will probably need a truckload of cash) there is always a risk the code in one bit of software will conflict with that of another.. And it could come from a plugin or theme you’ve had for years. Just one imbalance between two elements could take down your site.

Are you wondering why, if it can all go so horribly wrong, that WordPress decided that automation was the best way to go?

Initially, it was only with minor updates to the core software and gradually the more complex elements were added in.  There is no doubt that up to date software is the best way to fortify your website, however, with automatic updates, anything could be happening at any time and before you know it, your updates have run away with you and you're faced with the white screen of death.

When the updates are done systematically, after a clone has been take and one plugin at a time, the site can be tested after each separate update before moving onto the next one. Calm and controlled.

How To Turn Off Automatic Updates

You can do this manually by configuring the wp-config.php file (YUK).  We 're not going to show you how to do this here because if you know what we're talking about then you can work out how to do it yourself.  If you have no idea what it means, then by the time you've followed the process, you will have lost the will to live.

A simpler option to catch all possible updates is to install the plugin Easy Updates Manager

Easy Updates Manager Plugin to turn off WordPress Automatic Updates

Of course, there is configuring to do, and the plugin has great support to help you if you want to DIY.

And Finally...

Let's just say that you don't really fancy doing any of this yourself, you could always have a look at our WordPress Care Plans.  We made them as enticing as possible.