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How to Properly Update WordPress Plugins (Step by Step)

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Are you unsure of the correct way to update your WordPress plugins?

Keeping your plugins up to date is important for the stability and security of your WordPress site. It also lets you take advantage of any new features the plugin’s developers have added.

In this step-by-step guide, we will show you how to properly update WordPress plugins and manage plugin updates more efficiently.

How to update WordPress plugins

Why Update WordPress Plugins?

Updating your WordPress plugins is important for keeping your website safe and running smoothly.

Think of plugins as apps for your WordPress website. You can install them to add new features and functionality to your website, such as contact forms, SEO tools, memberships, and more.

These plugins are created by different developers who regularly make improvements and fix issues to the software, releasing them as updates.

By keeping your plugins up to date, you make sure your site stays secure and performs well. This improves WordPress security and the performance of your website.

Having said that, let’s take a look at how to properly update WordPress plugins. You can use the quick links below to skip to a specific topic:

What to Do Before Updating a WordPress Plugin

Before you update a plugin on your WordPress blog or website, 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 recommend waiting one full week before updating the plugin. By then, any errors have usually been caught, reported, and fixed.

If your website has heavy traffic and generates a lot of leads, then we recommend you do the same.

How to Update a WordPress Plugin

WordPress comes with a built-in automatic 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

To update your WordPress plugins, simply visit the Dashboard » Updates page in the admin area.

You will then see a list of plugins that need updating.

Updates page

You can install these updates by clicking ‘Update Plugins.’ Or, visit the Plugins » Installed Plugins page. Below each plugin is a notification with updates available to install.

You can click the ‘Update Now’ link to install each update. Make sure that you install them one at a time, and wait until the plugin finishes updating before you click the next link.

Updates highlighted on the plugins page

How to Update WordPress Plugins in Bulk

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 » Installed 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 them all by clicking the ‘Plugin’ checkbox at the top of the list and then choose ‘Update’ from the Bulk Actions dropdown menu.

Bulk update plugins

After that, you need to click the ‘Apply’ button to update the selected plugins.

How to Undo a WordPress Plugin Update

Sometimes a plugin update can produce unexpected results. For example, you may find that some plugin features do not work properly.

In that case, the first thing you should do is deactivate that plugin.

If you can access the Plugins page in the 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 roll back the plugin to any previous version.

Rollback plugin to previous version

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

What if the problem with the plugin update has left you unable to access the WordPress admin area?

In that case, you should follow the steps in our guide on how to deactivate all plugins when not able to access the WordPress admin area.

How to Manage WordPress Plugin Updates

If you manage multiple WordPress sites, you will soon realize that you must update plugins quite often. This means that manual updates can become time-consuming. Here are some tips to help you manage updating WordPress more efficiently.

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 would be to automatically update only a few select plugins that you trust. We give instructions on how to do this in our guide on how to better manage WordPress updates.

If you don’t manage multiple WordPress sites, then you can set up email notifications for WordPress plugin updates. This will alert you when there’s an update available without having to log in to your WordPress site.

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

Finally, some WordPress hosting providers come with a staging website feature. This allows you to test the new plugin updates on a staging environment before going live.

Bluehost, for instance, has a one-click staging environment feature that lets you create a duplicate of your website for testing.

Navigating to the Staging tab in the Bluehost plugin page inside WordPress

If you want to use managed WordPress hosting, we recommend using WP Engine and checking out their staging tool.

We hope this article helped you learn how to update WordPress plugins. You may also want to see our ultimate WordPress security guide or our list of the best WordPress backup plugins.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

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Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi with over 16 years of experience in WordPress, Web Hosting, eCommerce, SEO, and Marketing. Started in 2009, WPBeginner is now the largest free WordPress resource site in the industry and is often referred to as the Wikipedia for WordPress.

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Reader Interactions

13 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Syed Balkhi says

    Hey WPBeginner readers,
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  2. Kany says

    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.


  3. Terry G says

    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.

    • WPBeginner Support says

      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.


      • Terry says

        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!

        • WPBeginner Support says

          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.

      • Terry says

        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.

  4. Nanien says

    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?

    • WPBeginner Support says

      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.


  5. James Burk says

    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.

  6. Ritul says

    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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