People often ask me my opinion about whether/how often to upgrade WordPress. Mainly they want to know whether they need to upgrade with every single release. And if not, then what is the criteria for deciding yes or no?
My basic policiy for myself is also what I recommend for my clients or anyone seeking this advice. My policy is to upgrade WordPress with every security-related recommended upgrade. If the upgrade is related to security, there is not even a question in my opinion. Do the upgrade or risk the security of your WordPress installtion.
As far as non-security, non-recommended upgrades, it depends. If it is simply fixing a few bugs or adding new, minor fuctionality, I usually do not upgrade. Whether you do or not is up to you. Look at the new features/bug fixes. Do they apply to features you are using or any bug you have experienced? If so, weigh the benefits of the upgrade against the financial cost (if you hire someone to do WordPress upgrades for you) or your time investment (if you do this yourself). It should be pretty easy to decide from there.
However, if it is a major upgrade, there are greater things to consider. Here are the issues I sometimes see with a major WordPress upgrade, some more often than others:
• At least a minor change to the layout or look of the dashboard/admin panel, sometimes major
• Potential issues with plug-ins you are using, depending on what you are using on your blog/site
• Potential database or log-in issues, usually more to do with your web host than WordPress – this can require some major troubleshooting
• Conflicts with your theme, especially if using an older theme with potentially deprecated or outdated code
I tend not to be an “early adopter” anyway, generally speaking, and WordPress is no exception with me. My process is usually to watch the help forums and see what the issues are and how to fix them, and watch for a new release (bug fix or security patch). So basically I let all the problems get ironed out before I will upgrade my sites to the new version of WordPress, which is a time period of about 5-6 weeks, usually.
Once a new version (major upgrade) of WordPress has been out about 6 weeks, I usually have learned of any problems or issues, learned about how to solve them, and WordPress itself will have fixed some of them with bug fixes and security updates if necessary. WordPress 2.7 will be coming out relatively soon, but I won’t be installing it on any of my sites until about 6 weeks after that, and the likely version I will be installing will be WordPress version 2.7.1 – or something like that!
Additionally, I don’t recommend waiting TOO long after a major upgrade of WordPress to upgrade your installation. The reason for that is that any new security patches will apply only to the new version and not the older versions. i.e. if you are running version 2.3.3 right now, you have missed all security patches that have come out since the upgrades to 2.5 and 2.6 – and you DO need to upgrade or risk security issues and problems!
Hopefully that answers most questions about when and why to upgrade WordPress. Feel free to ask questions or make comments in the comments area below or Contact Me about hiring Blog Solace to do your upgrade for you.