I am considering using wordpress to build small to medium websites for some of my clients. I have almost settled on word press after much research but there is one area that does concern me… the time involved with ongoing site maintenance with regard to upgrading to new versions of word press and plugins. If it were just one or two websites then it wouldn’t be an issue but if I ended up with 10…20 + then the time to update several times a year just wouldn’t be worth me using this cms.
Any advice or comments on this would be gratefully received. I reeeallly want to use wordpress so I am hoping the response I get is that if the website I have built is working well and has all the required features then you don’t have to upgrade….
Well you do not really ever have to upgrade to a newer version unless there is a good reason like security, but if everything has to be up to date all the time it could be a real pain.
Any software you use is going to need constant maintenance and support, ongoing, from the moment it’s installed to the end of life.
I’m an advocate of waiting a day or two and then upgrading, if I’m reasonably sure an upgrade won’t break things or if I know they’re needed ASAFP to stop morons from mucking with my stuff. I support 5 wordpress installs right now, and I basically know I’m going to need to spend at least a day a week making sure the plugins and themes and everything else is up to speed on them all.
This is why support staff have jobs 🙂 It’s not just break/fix, it’s also monitor/note 😉
if the website I have built is working well and has all the required features then you don’t have to upgrade….
I’d love to say ‘yes’ but history has taught me the answer to this is no. You can’t just ignore upgrades forever.
…then the time to update several times a year just wouldn’t be worth me using this cms.
Do you believe the case would be different with any other CMS? Any software is going to need updating eventually and web-software is particularly vulnerable. You might get away with using a ten year old version of MS-Office at home for typing letters that never need to do much besides get to your printer but try that with web software and you may as well be publishing usernames and passwords on the front page in neon red flashing letters– with dancing hamsters thrown in to attract attention. In fact, a year out of date can be pretty dangerous. I’d say that the only ‘safe’ site that doesn’t have to be updates is straight static html– no database, no scripting, no SSI, nothing interesting.
Well you do not really ever have to upgrade to a newer version unless there is a good reason like security…
Thanks for your help everyone. I was told the support on the WP forum was amazing and now I know it for myself.
This was just an initial enquiry to find out if WP is right for my need. I am looking for a way to build small basic websites at a low cost for a few of my clients who just can’t afford to use a web developer so end up going without or getting their mate down the road who has no idea about SEO or designing a website to ‘throw something together’.
My initial research into WP made me think I could use a WP theme, adjust the design to fit with the clients brand (yep, know that is not totally straight forward) and give them an inexpensive small website. Upon further research I started reading about the ongoing requirement of upgrading the WP software and plugins – that is why I asked the question here… to double check what I was reading in my research was correct. It makes total sense now that I understand software better – Drupal is similar but I was still hoping it might be ok for smaller, more basic themes/sties in WP.
The ongoing monthly maintenance fees I would have to charge my clients to cover my time to check, monitor and upgrade, especially if I had to spend approx 1 to 1.5 hours a week, or even a MONTH on a single sites, makes this not a very viable option.
I say yes. If it wasn’t important to update then there wouldn’t be updates in the first place 🙂
Even if you don’t think about getting hacked, consider that going from a 2.1.2 version site to 2.8x is a chore — the longer you go between updates, the more chance for problems.
I use WordPress in 95% of the sites I build… and I state clearly that updating them at least once if not twice a year is mandatory. It takes 15 minutes max to do this… unless you ARE going from 2.1x to 2.6x and greater, in which case, it’s probably an hour or more, with testing for weird character entity issues, database updates, plugin problems.
Learn to do the updates — with the newest versions, you get great new functionality and features TOO.
Wow – so you only spend 15 mins max a couple of times a year updating a site? If that is the case then it would work for me. I was aware that it was better to upgrade regularly as the upgrades occur than leave it for ages but still thought it took quite a bit of time. Would you mind answering the questions below?
– Do you have many problems with plug-ins when you do the upgrades on a regular basis? I have heard this can make the process take longer.
– If I used an existing theme and made quite a few adjustments to it or created my own theme/s will this affect the time it takes to do the upgrades… ie. are the themes affected by the upgrades or are they separate?
– Do you upgrade EVERY time there is a new upgrade ie. 2.1, 2.2, 2.3 etc or would you do 2.1 then maybe 2.3?
15 minutes comes after several years of doing upgrades for 100+ sites…. practice makes perfect, they say… though honestly, sometimes it *can* go horribly wrong! Like I said, the longer you wait between, the more chance there is for a problem.
1) sometimes, especially if waiting many versions between upgrades. With the great new features of auto-updating, this has become easier and easier. Key to no problems with plugins is to use plugins by respected and supportive plugin developers. If they have a forum and the questions there are generally old and unanswered, DON’T USE THE PLUGIN…. same goes for the general information on the plugin with respect to the highest version supported… if it isn’t up-to-date, don’t use it.
I typically disable all plugins before upgrading… and frankly, I don’t use that many, just key ones like get_custom, revision control, dagon’s forms, SEO/XML and the occasional lightshow or slideshow, as needed.
2) Not really… because you are backing up your theme folder and its files… so after the upgrade, you simply restore, if needed. With 2.8x, I’ve used the auto-update and not had to restore those files at all.
But, if you customize core files or other includes or admin stuff, you might… for example, I DO a custom quicktags.js file for all sites as I prefer to avoid the wysiwyg formatting tools, building custom formatting tools for clients that are specific to their site. So, yes, I have to back up this file and restore it if the includes folder is modified by the version update. Same goes for any custom branding of the backend admin — which is typically (for me) just mods of the images and such used in logins and at the top of the admin, etc.
So, yes — if you count the time it takes to save and restore these files, it does add time, but I keep a text file of all custom files for each site, making it fairly easy to know what to backup and restore.
I have run into issues with old databases, though… when the mySQL db gets large, you can have issues with export/import of the tables, though mostly this has been a problem associated with FAlbum, imo.
3) NO, I don’t upgrade EVERY time. I evaluate the reasons for the updates. If it is a security issue, you may only need to overwrite a single file… or more, but security issues are a KEY reason to do the upgrade. I don’t always do the incremental minor upgrade (2.8.2->2.8.3, for example, but I would do a 2.8.2->2.8.4 because of security… or a 2.7.2->2.8.1 because of new features)
Security reasons motivate me; next are new and key features. And, of course, when WordPress radically changes how it handles categories or adds tags, etc… that simply makes sense to get on top of the changes asap.
HTH and remember, this is just MY reasoning… there may be valid reasons I don’t know about or choose to ignore 😉
Thank you so much for taking the time to provide such an in-depth and amazingly helpful reply to my questions. I appreciate you doing this very much. It has helped me to make some big decisions that have been bugging me for months.
I see that you are very organised, keeping txt files of custom files. I guess keeping some sort of log book for each website with brief notes of work done, when, how long and any problems/issues to be aware of for next time would help save time in the long run also. Ha ha – this is on my list to do for my client with regard to their marketing material, things like noting that when I print x file with x printer for x client I need to remind the printer to print the job 10% lighter – still have not set up a system. Next week!
I have one more question (well several relating to one topic) if you can find the time to answer it/them…
Do you use word press for e-commerce sites and if so, which shopping cart do you use and how do you find it? If not, why do you not use it and what do you use?
If you are asking me, no, I haven’t done e-commerce with it, but I know there are a few commercial e-commerce plugins available for WordPress. One fairly high-rated e-commerce WP plugin is done by a company in New Zealand… can’t remember the name, but I am sure you could put in e-commerce in the search field in the Extend/Plugins sections and find it. (or Google WordPress_e-commerce+plugin)
I don’t do a lot of e-commerce. My sites are typically small to medium personal, business or entity type sites for lawyers, restaurants, etc where they have a bricks & mortar presence. And, most of the sites I *have* worked on with that are done in .NET… or .jsp (Verizon Wireless, where I was lead design, for example)
I’ve done a couple WordPress sites with PayPal, but that’s not true e-commerce, and was small-scale.
Sorry I couldn’t be more help. Best of luck to you!
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