Home Forums WordPress, blogging, SEO Should I enable plugin autoupdates?

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  • #6232 Reply

    While looking at the plugins installed in WordPress, I see that there is an auto-update option and plugins can be set to automatically update. Is this a good idea? Should I enable this feature? I just wonder if it is recommended. What do other people do?

    #6249 Reply
    Roland Waddilove

    Updates to plugins have several benefits.

    • Add new features. This is nice and new features can be useful to you, but they are not critical and you don’t need to immediately update a plugin.
    • Bug fixes. If you are affected by a bug in a plugin, then it is important to install an update that fixes it. It is best to update sooner rather than later.
    • Security fixes. It is common for plugins to have security problems and they can allow hackers to take over your website or install malware. Don’t delay, plugins should immediately be updated to secure your website. Security fixes are often kept secret to protect users that have not yet updated, so you won’t know if an update is a security fix or not.

    As you can see, there are many benefits to updating plugins and with security fixes it is critical to update as soon as possible. Looking at the benefits, enabling automatic updates for plugins would appear to be a no-brainer.

    However, there is a downside to updating plugins.

    • Features can be taken out. You may rely on a feature that is removed in a newer version of the plugin.
    • Bugs can be introduced. A plugin that worked fine may have bugs after an update. Usually they come with a major release rather than a minor one, but with auto-updates, all updates get installed.
    • You are not around. An updated plugin may have compatibility problems with other plugins or themes you use. An automatic update may occur at night or away on a trip or holiday.

    That last one is the main issue I have with automatic updates. If you manually update a plugin on your website, you can immediately check your site is OK and fix any problems that occur.

    Imagine an auto-update taking place just after you have gone to bed at night. Your site could have problems and you will not notice until the next day when you check it. It could be 12 hours or more before you notice a problem and get around to fixing it.

    Should automatic plugin updates be enabled or disabled? It is personal choice. Weigh up the pros and cons and see which you prefer. I lean towards automatic updates, mainly to ensure security fixes are applied, but you do need to check your site often, just in case an update causes a problem.


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