In general it is a good practice to keep your theme and plugins up to date because of improved security , compatibility, and performance. How long is a “long time”? Definitely backup your site and know how to restore it before doing a update in case something breaks. You won’t loose your plug-ins and your widgets won’t be lost, but they may not appear where you want if the theme has changed the location of the sidebars, but that is unlikely.
For peace of mind you could create what’s called a staging or test server. You can do this on your local computer. You can use the free Duplicator plugin to create a copy of your site and install it within MAMP (for Macs), WAMP or XAMPP (for Windows). For something that is little more user friendly, use DektopServer by ServerPress.com. The $50 premium version is necessary to import the Duplicator backup, but it would be $50 well spent because it could spare you a headache and lost time.
Could you be more specific about what trouble you are having with links to the site?
Long time means several months since I posed and I’m sure more than year since I upgraded or really paid attention to the back end. I have several other sites and I’ve been more enthusiastic with them.
While a lover of websites, and a bit of a closet graphic artist, I’m a disaster at back-end stuff. I really don’t know how to create a backup file (my host is godaddy).
Usually I go for the upgrade and don’t bother with backing up (it also usually includes closing my eyes, crossing my fingers and hoping for the best). But this time I decided to be wise, not foolish, ergo here I am.
Your further assistance would be SO very much appreciated.
As for the upgrade, it does not look like the Magazine Basic theme as changed that much and from the outside it does not appear that you have that many plugins installed, so chance are that nothing negative will happen when you update and you should update for he reasons I noted previously.
It is a popular plugin, well documented and supported. There are also instructions for restoring your site. You do need a Dropbox account, but you can get a free one and it should be sufficient for your site.