4 Easy Ways to Check Your WordPress Version

Why updating WordPress matters and how to check if your version is out of date

When your phone is due for an update, you get a notification that lets you know. But what about your WordPress site? Have you ever wondered if your site is running an up-to-date version of WordPress?

Ensuring you’re on the latest WordPress version will help you keep your site as safe as possible. In fact, according to a study by web security firm Sucuri, 39% of WordPress sites that were hacked in 2020 were using a previous version. Keeping your site updated is the best defense against hackers who use vulnerabilities in outdated software to gain access to your site.

Still, more than 40% of WordPress sites aren’t running on the most recent versions after its release date (5.8 or above).

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In addition to security considerations, upgrading your WordPress version will also ensure your plugins and themes operate correctly. As new versions of WordPress are released, plugin and theme developers make adjustments to their projects to align with these updates. 

This also applies to fundamental elements of WordPress, such as the Gutenberg (block) Editor, which replaced the default Classic Editor when WordPress 5.0 was launched in 2018. As another example, WordPress 5.3 came with added UI improvements, and WordPress 5.8 saw the introduction of Full Site Editing

Keeping WordPress up-to-date also has implications for the overall speed and performance of your website. In addition to the above considerations around plugins, themes, and security updates,  using an up-to-date version of WordPress will help keep all of the moving parts running smoothly. 

Luckily for WP Engine users, none of this is an issue. If you’re a current WP Engine customer and you’re unsure which version of WordPress you’re running, simply log into your User Portal and go to the site you want to review. Scroll down under “Environment stats,” and you’ll see a box on the right-hand side displaying your current WordPress version. 

But, you don’t even really need to do this because 100% of WP Engine customers run on an up-to-date version of WordPress. Further, before we roll out a new version of WordPress, we undertake rigorous testing to make sure it won’t have any unintended impacts on your sites.

If you’re not using WP Engine yet, you can check which version of WordPress your site is on with one of the following methods:

  1. Using the Admin Area
  2. Using Your Site’s Front End
  3. Using the version.php File
  4. Using WP-CLI

Using the Admin Area

This is the method you’ll most likely use to check the current version of your WordPress site. It’s easy to access, you don’t need any special developer training, and if you have Admin access, you’ve already got all the permissions you need to find the information quickly.

Log into your WordPress dashboard and click on Updates in the left-hand column. There, you’ll see the version number prominently displayed, as well as a clear message telling you whether or not it’s the latest version.

If this area says your site has the latest version of WordPress, you’re all set! If not, make sure to create a backup before you install the new version.

WP Engine makes backups a cinch with automatic daily backups of your site (stored for up to 40 days), and the ability to create a fresh backup at any time with just a few clicks. After you’ve created a backup, simply return to the Updates page and click the link to update with the new version.

You can also check the At A Glance widget or scroll to the bottom right corner of any page in your Admin dashboard to see which version of WordPress you’re operating on.


Using Your Site’s Front End

A quick way to view your site’s current version (and most sites, for that matter) without needing to access the back-end is by checking your source code. To do so, head to your homepage and right-click anywhere. In the window that opens, choose View Page Source which will open a new tab.

View page source

In the new tab, use CTRL or COMMAND+F to open the search feature and type “generator” in the search box provided. As long as the generator tag is enabled (which is should be by default), you’ll see a line that looks similar to this:

<meta name="generator" content="WordPress 5.8.3" />

In this example, the site in question is operating on WordPress version 5.8.3. Then, you can simply look up what the latest version of WordPress is and make sure the two match.

 However, many developers will hide this line from their source code. It’s an easy way for bad actors to see if you’re running an older version of WordPress, and therefore choose you as a potential target. You can hide this information by making changes to your site’s current theme.


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Using the version.php File

Another way to check which version of WordPress your site is using is through the version.php file. To do so, you’ll first want to download an FTP client to organize all your site’s files. FileZilla, WP File Manager, Cyberduck, and CuteFTP are some of the most popular options for WordPress users.

Once the FTP of your choice is installed, open the File Manager and look in the sidebar for your site’s folder. Expand the folder to find a file named wp-includes. Click it and scroll down the list of files it contains until you find version.php.

WP File Manager

Highlight the version.php file and either download and open it or click Edit in the top toolbar to view the contents of the file. The version of WordPress your site is using will be visible within the file. In the example above, you can see in the highlighted portion of the file that the site is currently operating on WordPress version 5.9.


Using WP-CLI

As a WordPress user or developer, your preferred way of checking your site’s WordPress version is likely through the WordPress command line interface (WP-CLI). WP-CLI is an efficient way to execute commands on your site, even without access to a browser.

To check your WordPress version using WP-CLI, connect to your host through SSH (Secure Shell) protocol and type cd html to navigate to the correct directory. Then, use the command wp core version to ask the command line to generate and display your WordPress version information. That’s it! 

While it seems simple, please note that newer users who are less familiar with WordPress should not use this option. Because the command line allows you to make widespread changes to your site, an inexperienced user has greater potential to disrupt or damage a site. This method should only be used by experienced WordPress users who are familiar with WP-CLI.


Stay Up To Date With WP Engine

With WP Engine, customers are always up-to-date and ready to benefit from WordPress’ latest incredible features. Our WordPress update program intelligently tests your site before and after performing updates to ensure everything works seamlessly. Our team of WordPress support experts keeps tabs on the latest updates—so you don’t have to!

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