Important Steps Before Updating the Core WordPress Version

Posted By: Ellyse Dwyer
Date Posted: 12/09/2022

Updating your website to the most recent versions of the WordPress core, plugins, and theme is very simple with WordPress. Just a few button clicks, right?

Anyone who has used WordPress for some time is aware that pressing “update” without doing any serious planning can be a recipe for disaster.

You should complete the following tasks PRIOR to updating your WordPress website.

Make a Backup

If you only do one thing from this list, please make a backup of your website. I like to do this with the Duplicator plugin. Alternatively, a One-click backup is available via your cPanel that will back up your entire cPanel and Database or you can zip up public_html in the file manager.

Follow our step-by-step guide for creating a full cPanel backup HERE

Update PHP Version

Now that you have backup your files you can do the next steps with peace of made you have it to fall back on.

PHP is the scripting language that powers WordPress as well as all of its themes and plugins. Using an outdated version may result in conflicts and a buggy experience.

Because they are backward compatible, most plugins, themes, and WordPress itself will run with a minimum of PHP 5.6. However, you cannot rely on software to be backward compatible.

The best approach is to use the PHP version that the software is designed to work with. You can then rule out a random bug caused by using an old version of PHP.

Upgrading to the most recent PHP version will speed up your site.

Keep a Change Log

Its important to keep a log of every change you make when you update a website. Its best to keep track of the old and new versions of everything you upgrade. To make things easier, you should copy and paste the plugins section of the WordPress Updates page into Evernote. This provides me with both the old and new versions of each plugin that needs to be updated.

If something goes wrong, I have a list of plugins that could be the source of the issue!

Disable Caching

Disable or deactivate your website’s caching mechanism (if enabled). This prevents caching from interfering with the update process. Remember to enable caching after you’ve finished updating.

Check Theme/Plugins

Plugin/theme updates are frequently released in tandem with major WordPress releases. Check that the latest versions of each of your installed plugins/themes are compatible with the WordPress version you intend to upgrade to. Remove (or replace) any plugins/themes that do not have compatible upgraded versions with the main WordPress version.

WordPress Update Errors Troubleshooting

You may encounter a few update errors during the WordPress update process. Here are five common mistakes and how to fix them:

Internal Server Error

Look for a corrupted .htaccess file that could be causing this problem. You can create a new, bug-free .htaccess file by navigating to Settings > Permalinks in your admin dashboard. To create a new .htaccess file, click Save Changes. You can also try increasing the PHP memory limit or deactivating your plugins.

Syntax Error

When your code has incorrect syntax, this error occurs (indicated by the line number). You must fix the syntax code to solve this issue.

Error Establishing a Database Connection

This error could occur if your default database credentials have been modified and your site’s wp-config.php file is unable to access the database. You must enter the correct credentials to resolve this. To do so, log in to your phpMyAdmin account and look up the hostname, username, password, and/or database name.

White Screen of Death

Check to see if the same issue has occurred on any other websites. If not, an updated plugin may be to blame for the error. Try deactivating all plugins or increasing your memory limit. By editing the php.ini file, you can increase your limit.


Before we go, here’s a quick rundown of why WordPress updates are so critical.

  • New features that can improve your website’s functionality
  • Improved website security against online threats and bad actors
  • Improved website performance as WordPress developers work to make faster WordPress versions

WordPress bug fixes are available in both major and minor versions.

One of the risks or drawbacks of WordPress updates is that they can break a website or cause incompatibility problems. The best way to avoid this is to always make a backup before performing an update. Even better, always test your site first on a staging site.

If you run into issues and would like more assistance our support team is ready to help!

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