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How to Properly Update WordPress Plugins (Step by Step)

After you start your blog and install plugins, its extremely important for security reasons that you keep the plugins updated. In this step by step guide, we will show you how to properly update WordPress plugins, and how to manage plugin updates more efficiently.

How to update WordPress plugins

Why Update WordPress Plugins?

WordPress plugins are like apps for your WordPress site. You can install them to add new features and functionality to your website like adding contact forms, photo galleries, sliders, etc.

You can learn more about WordPress plugins in our guide what are WordPress plugins? How do they work?.

Plugins are created by third-party developers. Most of them keep improving their plugins by adding new features, improving code quality, and keeping them secure. These changes are then released as updates.

You should always keep your WordPress plugins up to date to ensure that those changes are applied on your site immediately. This improves WordPress security and performance of your website.

Having said that, let’s see how to update WordPress plugins.

How to Properly Update WordPress Plugins

WordPress comes with a built-in update system. It automatically checks for updates and shows you notifications when there are updates available for your WordPress plugins, themes, and WordPress core software.

WordPress update notifications inside admin area

You can also manually check for updates by visiting Dashboard » Updates page.

Updates page

When there is a new update available for plugins, you will see the notification on the plugins menu in the WordPress admin bar.

You can install these updates by visiting the Plugins page. You will see a notification below each plugin that has updates available for you to install.

Updates highlighted on the plugins page

You can just click on the ‘Update Now’ link to install each update.

Bulk Update WordPress Plugins

If there are updates for several plugins on your website, then you may want to quickly review and bulk update those plugins.

To do that, you need to visit the Plugins page and click on the ‘Update Available’ link.

This will show you the list of all plugins that have updates available. You can select all of them and then select ‘Update’ from the ‘Bulk Actions’ drop down menu.

Bulk update plugins

Before You Update, Read this!

Before you update the plugin, it’s important that you click on the View version details link to see what changes the plugin author has made.

This will keep you informed as to what changes were made should anything not work properly.

Unless the version details specifically say security update, we usually wait one full week before updating the plugin. In this time, all errors usually get caught, reported, and fixed.

If you have a heavy traffic site that is generating a lot of leads, then we recommend you to do the same.

How to Undo the WordPress Plugin Update

Sometimes a plugin update can produce unexpected results like some plugin features may not work properly.

In that case, first you will need to deactivate that plugin.

If you can access the Plugins page in WordPress admin area, then simply click on the ‘Deactivate’ link below the misbehaving plugin.

Deactivate plugins

After that you can install the WP-Rollback plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, go back to the Plugins page, and you will be able to see a rollback option below each plugin. Clicking on it will allow you to rollback the plugin to any previous version.

Rollback plugin to previous version

For detailed instructions, check out our guide on how to how to rollback WordPress plugins.

If you are unable to access the WordPress admin area, then follow the steps in our guide on how to deactivate all plugins when not able to access WordPress admin area.

Tips to Manage WordPress Plugins More Efficiently

If you manage multiple WordPress sites, then you will soon realize that you have to update plugins quite often. Here are some tips to help you manage them more effeciently.

If you are confident about the plugins that you are using, then you can enable automatic updates for all your WordPress plugins.

However, a better approach will be to setup automatic updates only for select few plugins that you trust. Follow the instructions in our guide on how to better manage WordPress updates.

If you don’t manage multiple WordPress sites, then you can setup email notifications for plugin updates. This will allow you to be alerted when there is an update available without logging into your WordPress site.

Always make sure that you have setup an automatic backup plugin on your WordPress site. This will allow you to restore your WordPress site in case something goes wrong.

Last but not least, if you can afford managed WordPress hosting, then the staging website feature is definitely worth the investment. It allows you to test the new plugin updates on a staging environment before going live. We recommend using either WPEngine or SiteGround’s GoGeek plan.

We hope this article helped you learn how to update WordPress plugins. You may also want to see our list of essential WordPress plugins for your website.

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12 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Hi…
    currently i have problem with my site. Yesterday, I was editing my site and was working properly; however, when I come to login today, I have gotten this This site can’t be reached (site name) took too long to respond. Try:
    .Checking the connection
    . Checking the proxy and the firewall
    . Running windows Network diagnistics

    Surprisingly, when I use wifi connection,( connect to phone’s wifi ) it’s working properly. and when I open though different internet company, its working without any problem.

    I was wondering if there is one who may help me to resolve this issue.


  2. I am upgrading a website that hasn’t been upgraded in several years, running wp 3.9.22 to latest versions of everything, wp, new theme (current one is no longer in development), and all plugins. I notice that none of the plugins have notices that say an update is available, even though they do. I don’t know whether this is because the wordpress version is so old none of the current plugins would work on it, or because the person who created the website downloaded all the plugins to install directly rather than using the Directory? Going forward I definitely want the notifications of a newer version be available, so it doesn’t get so out of date again.

    What is the best way to update these plugins from the directory, without losing the current settings, even though there is no “update now” link? For example, I tested contact form 7 on a test site, first uploading the plugin manually, making a change in the settings, then de-activating and deleting it, and then re-adding it via the directory. I lost the setting in the form, so had to re-do it. Is there a way to do it without losing the current settings?

    Any help you can give is appreciated, and I have found your site to be immensely helpful.

    • Hi Terry,

      Please reach out to person who managed your site, they may have disabled plugin updates. If you cannot reach them, then first backup your website. After that try deactivating all your WordPress plugins, switch to a default WordPress theme, and then visit Dashboard » Updates page. You may also want to see your site’s wp-config.php file for the code that is used to block plugin updates.


      • I don’t think the original person is available any more.

        ” After that try deactivating all your WordPress plugins, switch to a default WordPress theme, and then visit Dashboard » Updates page.” If the plugins are deactivated, what will I be looking for on the Updates page?

        I’ll take a look at the wp-config file. Can you tell me what I’ll be looking for? Thanks!

        • Hey Terry,

          Compare your config file with the original wp-config file. You may find something that would look clearly out of place. Select it and Google it to find out what it does.

      • I googled it and found this: Search for define( ‘AUTOMATIC_UPDATER_DISABLED’, true ); so I guess that’s what I’ll look for. Also found your article on disabling updates and why you shouldn’t.

  3. Hi…
    currently i have problem with my site. Last night i tried to upgrade my site to woocommerce 3.0.5 but it’s always error (memory limit and timeout). Eror message: Update Failed: 500 Internal Server Error Request Timeout This request takes too long to process, it is timed out by the server. If it should not be timed out, please contact administrator of this web site to increase ‘Connection Timeout’.

    Then i asked my Hosting Provider to increase the maximum script execution time to 600 second but suddenly i lost the woocommerce plugin in the WP ADMIN. When i checked the WOOCOMMERCE plugin in the CPANEL FILE MANAGER, the plugin still there with permission code 0755. Is there any solution?

    If i delete the WP CONTENT in the CPANEL and do re-install through WP ADMIN…do i lost all the data? What is the best solution for this problem?

    • Hey Nanien,

      You can download a fresh copy of WooCommerce plugin to your computer and then extract it on your Desktop. After that you can use cPanel’s File Manager or FTP client to manually upload WooCommerce folder from your Desktop to your website in /wp-content/plugins/ folder.


  4. This is so useful. I have a visitor Stats plugin which I updated only to discover that my ISP has an older version of PHP running so the plugin wouldn’t show all the stats. I’ve ‘downdated’ it back in time to an earlier version and it now works perfectly.

  5. I use genesis framework and want to know how you guys managed to put the menu icon in far left corner in mobile view. Please help me no one gave me right answer. Please help me….. Please……

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