Upgrading WordPress – now or later?

WordPress is a constantly evolving animal. Be sure to upgrade when a new version is available to stay secure (but with a caveat!)

I used to think, “If  WordPress tells me to upgrade then I should darn well upgrade!” Obviously these guys know what they’re about right? But here’s the thing – doing that might not always be in your best interest, at least initially.

Upgrade now!

The main reasons we get notified, via our WP Dashboard, that there is a new version of WordPress and we should ‘upgrade now‘  can be either because:

  • Those lovely guys and girls who constantly work (for free!) to improve WordPress for the likes of you and I by getting it to do amazing new cool stuff have created a fresh version. In which case the upgrade will be labeled 2.9 or 3.0 ( I wonder what good stuff that will bring us?).
  • Or in their rush to get their new baby online they’ve since discovered a few bugs/security issues that need addressing in which case the upgrade will be to 2.91 ( as of my writing this) or 3.01 ( in the future). More issues, tweaks and fixes? 2.92, 2.93 etc.

The fact is that the code used to build WordPress is ‘Open Source‘ meaning anyone can get hold of it. As a counterpoint to the lovely folk who continually try and make WordPress better and simpler with more ‘bells and whistles’  for the likes of you and I there are the…

deeply creepy crew of hackers who live for finding, and exploiting, weaknesses in the WordPress code so they can mess with our beautiful blogs!

Many do it simply for fun, or just to prove that they can, “Because it’s there“. Others to insert their links into your site for nefarious purposes. A hacked blog can simply die and a hijacked blog will divert stuff ( money/traffic/kudos) somewhere else. Plain nasty!

Yet another reason to religiously backup your blog and NOT just its database! so you can recover if you get hit.

Sooo, can you see why it might make sense to hold fire on upgrading to 2.9 ( when you’re on 2.88 say) until 2.91 comes out and they’ve found the first ‘security issues’ problems?

Anyway, that said, one of the greatest additions to new WordPress versions over the last year or so has been the automatic upgrade version via your dashboard. Just remember to back everything up first!!

Sidenote: Another reason I hold back on upgrading straight away is to check that my most important plugins are ‘cool’ with the new upgrade. If they work for you in 2.91 then chances are that they will in 2.92 etc. But 3.0 when it comes out? I like to be sure and run on a test blog first or visit my various plugin author’s pages.

N.B. – and this is important. DON’T let this post deter you from using WordPress! It remains, by far, the most secure blogging platform you can have – thanks to those previously mentioned ‘good guys’ who are constantly battling the ‘forces of nastiness’ out there.

Listen! Every web site in the world is subject to invasion by ne’er-do-wells’ but with a self-hosted WordPress blog you can at least do something about it! Hooray for us!

Relevant links for this tutorial:

P.S. My usual caveat applies here: This is what I do on my blogs and it’s entirely up to you what you do with your WordPress install. Any views on this, pro or con, will be gratefully received ( and responded to) in the Comments section below.

Blogging To The Bank 2010



Managing Director at Big Buzz Projects
Clive McGonigal is a full time Web Developer, Marketer, WordPress Evangelist and all round Decent Chap. He lives between London and France ( on a tiny rowing boat with an internet connection) and spends his offline time wining, dining and conversing with his dogs. He loves WordPress ( themes, plugins and tweaks) and blogs about them whenever he can.

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