How to Update WordPress, Plugins, and Themes

One of the easiest ways to improve the security of your WordPress site is to always keep your WordPress “core”, and the plugins and themes you use up-to-date. Doing this means that when problems (or “vulnerabilities”) in these softwares are found, you’ll be protected. Updating WordPress is mercifully pretty easy and intuitive, but it’s not without some things to keep in mind, this video covers all of those.

The biggest thing to keep in mind is that there is (a very small, but non-zero) chance that updating your plugins, themes, or WordPress core will make something “break”. To protect yourself in the (rare) case that that happen, having good backups of your WordPress site is a good idea.

After you’ve got backups, you just need to go to updates screen, and install the updates. As I did in this video:

Quickly Update WordPress Plugins and Themes

  1. If you have updates that need running, you’ll see a circular-two-arrows icon in the WordPress admin bar. If you see that, clicking it will always take you to the updates page.
  2. If you don’t have the two-circular-arrows icon with a number next to it in the admin bar when you’re logged into your WordPress site you (probably) don’t have updates to install. But you can always find the updates page in WordPress by finding “Dashboard > Updates” on the left side of your screen.
  3. On the updates page, you can run all the updates that WordPress can for you, fairly easily.
  4. To update WordPress core, you’ll click the blue “Update Now” button under the “An updates version of WordPress is available” heading. (If you don’t see that heading, WordPress is up-to-date.
  5. To update plugins, select all plugins by clicking the top-most checkbox on the “Plugins” table view. With those selected, click the “Update Plugins” button.
  6. To update themes, select all themes by clicking the top-most checkbox on the “Themes” table view. With those selected, click the “Update Themes” button.

3 Responses


  • Deborah says:

    David, thanks for the helpful steps on updating core, plugins, and themes. I’m going to point our Metro Detroit WordPress members to this post, we get asked this question every month!

    David, do you have any opinion on the order to update? Do you recommend core first? When we spoke about this recently at a meetup, I was surprised to hear so many different opinions and reasons.

    • That’s great Deborah! Thanks for sharing.

      I don’t think there’s a big difference in the update order. I generally do plugins, themes, then core. The heart of my logic is that *maybe* core (esp big releases like 4.8.0, 4.9.0, etc) may break a plugin or theme, so I should update those first. But I’d say that 90+% of the times you run updates, it doesn’t matter.

  • Paul Batey says:

    Is there any issue with simply replacing the plugin folders? I have a local ‘master’ dev site that has every plugin I’ve ever used that’s proved very useful. I use this site as the template for new sites and, as I know it always the most up-to-date plugins, I sometimes simply copy the plugins folder over to an existing site.
    I does sound like it could be fragile but i’ve never had any problems.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *