WordPress is ever-evolving and we at WP Engine strive to provide a platform that’s secure. We want the experience of updating WordPress, which is a necessity for a successful WordPress site, to be as easy and trouble free as possible. Because of this, we’ve outlined how we’re able to serve you in order to minimize any potential downtime for your site when updating WordPress.
In this article:
- We will describe the two different types of updates that WordPress releases
- How our Automatic Update Protection works
- Updating WordPress before our automatic updates
WordPress releases two different types of updates; Functional Updates and Security Updates.
This type of update adds features and options to the WordPress core. These are the major core updates (“Parker”, “Smith”, “Benny”). They are first offered as a beta and then the release version is made available. When the new release is announced, we publish the announcement on our blog, outlining the new features and provide an estimation on when we will begin contacting administrators with their update date.
We don’t update during the beta or immediately when the update is released. Instead, our engineering team tests the new release and its features against our system to see how they act and react to our platform. We will also take note of any known issues you can expect after an update and have actionable solutions, should you be affected.
Once we have analyzed the update and made the needed adjustments to our platform, we will announce the date that the first wave of updates will begin. If you would like to have the install updated immediately, please submit a ticket through your User Portal with your request and we will perform the update early. Otherwise, site administrators will be emailed 7 days and then once more, the day the update occurs.
Garage Tip: If for any reason you need to defer your install from being updated automatically, please view our article on WordPress Update Deferral. Additionally, the deferral will not be provided for updates containing security patches.
This type of update contains security or minor fixes that are pushed out to repair a vulnerability or bug in the WordPress core. We immediately investigate that the change doesn’t adversely affect our platform then push it out to our customer’s installs. We have found that the vast majority of installs that are adversely affected by security updates are ones that are using the vulnerability that is being closed. Because of this, we cannot defer security updates as this would keep your site and our platform vulnerable.
WP Engine Automatic Update Protection
In October 2013, we introduced Automatic Update Protection, providing an additional layer of management that allows us to streamline the updating, testing and validation of your install.
First the automation loads the site and tests to make sure that the site is working correctly before the update. If it is, then we create a backup point then perform the update. Once it’s complete, the automation reloads the site and tests are performed to ensure that everything in WordPress core is working normally.
If we find that the install is not working correctly after the update, we immediately revert your site to the previous WordPress version and make sure that it’s in working order, the way it was before the update. Then the automation sends an email to you detailing some next steps you can take to troubleshoot the issue.
Garage Tip: While the WordPress update may work with our platform as designed, there may be feature changes that are no longer compatible with your site’s plugins, themes, or custom code. If that is the case, we will revert your site and recommend that you consult with your developer(s) to resolve the issue.
Update Before Scheduled WordPress Update
There are some administrators that would like to update as soon as they are available from the WP Foundation. If you’re wanting to perform the update before our scheduled updates than please follow the below steps or here’s a great talk given at WordCamp from our Director of Customer Experience Operations on how to ensure you’re ready for a WordPress upgrade: WordPress Upgrades: Ready, Set, Go!
1. Determine Theme/Plugin Phase: When an update is released the theme/plugin(s) you have installed are in one of following phases based solely on work from its developer:
- Fully compatible: They have made any needed changes and their product works well with the update.
- Not compatible, but there is a workaround: Their product is not fully compatible yet, but they have a solution that will work until they do.
- Not compatible, working on update: Their product is not fully compatible but they’re working on an update that will.
- Will not be compatible: Their product is being discontinued or support has ended for that particular product.
Garage Tip: You may need to contact the developer of your theme/plugin(s) to determine which phase they are in - as WP Engine is not able to make conclusions based on third party plugins.
2. Test In Staging: Once you know the phase they are in and are ready to move forward, the next step is to test the new update in our staging environment (instructions on creating a staging site can be found here). You may have to consult with the developer again if you have custom code or special allowances that was available through legacy versions, but not with the new update.
3. Contact WP Engine to Update: Once you have finished the testing and are ready to move forward, submit a ticket to us and we will update your production site for you. Updating through our system means that our Update Protection mentioned above is still available to you even if it’s before the scheduled date, providing an extra layer of safety.