Upgrading WordPress is fairly simple, but there can be a few issues, hassles and annoyances if you don’t do it right and if you have more than one WordPress installation, it can become a hassle to keep everything up to date, but there are methods to upgrading WordPress fast.
Before upgrading using any method, a smart blog owner will back up both the files and databases relating to the blog so that if an issue arises, a rollback isn’t too difficult to perform.
One of the easiest ways to upgrade WordPress is through the use of FTP. This is one of the simplest ways as well, but if you run more than one blog, the upgrade process can start to wear you down as you do the same few steps over and over.
This is much more apparent when WordPress adds new versions often, and you find yourself transferring files on your favourite FTP program more than writing posts on your blog.
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when upgrading WordPress with this method is to not delete the wp-includes and wp-admin folders as files in these folders change from time to time, so overwriting files isn’t good enough as old files will still remain.
More information on upgrading WordPress through FTP
Instant Upgrade Plugins for WordPress
There are a few plugins for WordPress that once uploaded, activated and configured correctly, can allow you to easily upgrade WordPress though the WordPress administration panel. Some people recommend these plugins, others warn caution. I haven’t much experience with them because I am very anti-plugin. I would rather use other methods outside of overburdening the plugin architecture in WordPress.
There are two main contenders that I have seen progress in the upgrading of WordPress through a plugin. The first is InstantUpgrade plugin, which allows you to upgrade to either the latest version of WordPress or a version of your own choosing. The second plugin is WordPress Automatic upgrade, which has similar features and function.
I wouldn’t trust either of these plugins with upgrading my blogs because they have had many issues and require file permissions to be really insecure. For me, these plugins are also slower than many other methods as you have to log into each blog to upgrade it, where other options can save you a huge amount of time if you have more than one blog to upgrade each time Automattic releases a new version of WordPress.
Tools like Fantastico De Luxe have made upgrading WordPress a near, one-click upgrade process, but it isn’t without its downsides. The Fantastico package doesn’t immediately get the newest versions of WordPress, and so you might be stuck on an insecure version of WordPress for upwards of a month before the new version shows up in this tool.
The great thing is that Fantastico will take care of making a backup of your current installation, and then install the latest version of WordPress that it has available. I have heard of people having issues with Fantastico, so it is always prudent to back up your blog outside of this tool before running it.
This is one of the fastest ways to upgrade your WordPress blog, and is a great way to manage, and upgrade multiple installs of WordPress quickly and cleanly. Other than the wait time for Fantastico to have the latest versions of WordPress available for upgrading, there aren’t any major downsides that I’ve ever seen.
More Information on Upgrading WordPress through Fantastico
One of my favourite ways to upgrade WordPress blogs is through Subversion, also known as SVN, but this method requires a fair bit of technical skill. Especially, if you want to make a Bash script to upgrade all of your blogs from the command line using one command.
Using Subversion, I was able to upgrade over fifty WordPress powered blogs in just a few minutes.
Automattic runs a Subversion server and so if you have Shell access to your web hosting, and they have Subversion installed on it, you can basically drag the latest versions of WordPress down right from Automattic in a very efficient way.
There are many great blog posts on setting your WordPress blog up with Subversion, but one small note from me would be to not install the Trunk version of WordPress as most tutorials would have you do, but instead, pick the most recent stable version and then switch versions as new ones come out.
Trunk is the development code, and can sometimes have errors, or issues, especially since it changes daily.
More information on upgrading WordPress through Subversion
- WordPress Codex Instructions on Installing WordPress using SVN
- A Quick Tutorial on Installing/Upgrading using Subversion
WordPress 2.7 is due out in a few months (most likely October), and will make many of these options nearly obsolete, as it will include the ability to upgrade WordPress from inside the WordPress administration panel, just like the WordPress plugins, except that it will be supported by the people developing WordPress.
Having the upgrade tool built-in means that we will hopefully get an error free way to upgrade WordPress as the developers have access to change the core code to accommodate the upgrade tool they build. I am looking forward to seeing the final result.
If you are sick and tired of upgrading your WordPress blog, or you are just starting out with WordPress and don’t want to mess with upgrading, then you can always create an account at WordPress.com. This is a hosted blogging site, run by the people that release WordPress. You won’t have to worry about upgrading, as it all happens behind the scenes, allowing you to focus on your blogging.
No matter which way you want to run and upgrade your blog, it is always important to make backups of your work, as well as keep up to date on the software developments, as the worst thing that can happen is a loss of creative work. I have lost far too many articles and don’t wish that on anyone, as they can never be recreated exactly the same as they were.
Enjoy WordPress, and keep it up to date!