Safely Update Plugins

Plugins can be huge time savers but they may also seem like a pain in the butt when you have to constantly update them.


The updates are usually warranted – there was a security vulnerability the authors are fixing or an upgrade of some kind that will make the plugin even better.

So it’s best to keep up with the updates as best you can.

When you see that circle next to the Plugins menu or in your Dashboard under Updates, it’s time to take a few minutes and safely update your plugins.

Here’s how I safely update plugins:

Step #1 Create a Backup of Your Website

→ Log in to your WordPress website as an Administrator.

→ Go to the All-in-One WP Migration plugin.

If you don’t have this installed yet, install it. This plugin has saved me countless times.

→ Click on Export, Export to and File (or one of the cloud storage options).

This will start the process of backing up your entire site.

The box content will change from Preparing to Export, Retrieving List of All WP Files and Archiving.

When it reaches the Archiving step, it will show a percentage.

Let it run. Be patient. Go check Facebook while you wait.

→ Click on Download in the green pulsing box.

This will open a Save window.

→ Save the .wpress file somewhere in the cloud (Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon Web Services).

I strongly recommend you do NOT save it to your hard drive since they can fail.

Wait for the download to complete. Otherwise, you run the risk of not having a complete file in case you need it.

Once that is done, you can rest easy, since you know you have a complete backup of your site in case anything goes awry in the next few steps.

Step #2 Update Your Plugins

→ Click on the Plugins menu, then Installed Plugins.

If there is more than one plugin that requires an update, start from the top.

→ Click on the Update Now link under the name of the plugin.

You’ll see a swirling symbol until the update is complete.

Some of them will take longer than others depending on how many changes there are but don’t freak out.

Be patient.

Do NOT move away from the page since doing so could cause trouble.

When the update is complete, a green check mark and the word “Updated” will appear

→ Click on the Home icon in the upper left corner of the screen and take a look at your site.

Does it look OK?

Are weird things happening that shouldn’t be?

99% of the time, it will be exactly as it was before, but it’s prudent to check after each update so you know what caused the issues and can remedy it, if necessary.

If an update does cause problems that cannot be fixed easily, you may need to import the backup you made through All-in-One WP Migration until you can find out from the plugin authors what may be causing the conflict.

→ Click on Plugins, Installed Plugins and continue to update each plugin this way until you are done.

→ Do a final comprehensive check of your site. Go to each page and make sure they look like you intended them to look.

You’re done! (for now) 😉

You may be tempted to skip checking the site each time after you update a plugin, but trust me. Taking a few seconds now will be a huge time saver if you run into any trouble.

Depending on the size of your site, the whole process will likely take about 15 minutes.

Knowing that your website is up-to-date, functioning well and sufficiently guarded against nefarious characters on the interwebs is a nice return on your time investment if you ask me.

Alisha McFarland Safely Update Plugins Infographic