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How to Disable Automatic Updates in WordPress

Did you know that WordPress can automatically update your website? In some cases, that can include plugins and themes too.

Despite the security benefits, there is a slight chance that these background updates can break your website.

In this article, we will show you how to disable automatic updates in WordPress, so you can manually update on your own.

Disabling automatic updates in WordPress

Why WordPress Updates Automatically

WordPress automatically updates the core WordPress software for security reasons.

Sometimes, it may also update a plugin or theme to fix a potential threat. For instance, a WordPress plugin or theme might be updated to remove a critical vulnerability. If that plugin or theme is used by a lot of websites, WordPress core team may push out an automatic update for that.

Apart from those situations, WordPress lets you decide when you want to install updates.

We don’t recommend turning off automatic WordPress updates. They’re an important security feature.

However, in some rare situations, updates can break your website or affect its functionality. This could lead to you losing business and customers.

If you’re confident that you can manage manual updates yourself, then you can safely disable automatic updates in WordPress.

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If you’d prefer written instructions, just keep reading.

Configuring and Disabling Automatic WordPress Updates

The easiest way to do this is by installing and activating the Easy Updates Manager plugin. If you’re not sure how to do that, take a look at our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Once the plugin is activated, go to Dashboard » Updates Options to configure your settings.

Configuring the settings for the Easy Updates Manager plugin

You can choose to ‘Disable all updates’, but we don’t recommend this option. Primarily because it’ll prevent all update notifications from appearing.

Instead, you should pick the settings you want. You could disable plugin and theme auto-updates, but leave the standard core WordPress auto-updates enabled.

Disabling automatic plugin and theme updates while leaving minor core auto updates enabled

Note: If you choose ‘Disable plugin updates’ and ‘Disable theme updates’ instead of ‘Disable auto updates’, then you won’t even see the update notifications in your plugins and themes lists.

Easy Updates Manager keeps a log of what’s updated, so if anything does break on your site, you can rollback to a previous working version. To view this, go to Dashboard » Updates Options and then click the ‘Logs’ tab.

The logs tab of the Easy Updates Manager plugin

There’s also a premium version of Easy Updates Manager, which offers a lot of extra options. For instance, it integrates with UpdraftPlus so that you can automatically run a backup of your site before updates are applied.

Disabling Automatic WordPress Updates Without Using a Plugin

What if you don’t want to use a plugin? You can disable automatic updates in WordPress by adding this line of code in your wp-config.php file:

define( 'WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE', false );

This will disable all automatic WordPress updates.

Important: Make sure you read our article on how to safely edit the wp-config.php file in WordPress with step by step instructions.

If you want to receive minor core updates, but disable theme and plugin updates, you can do so by adding the following filters in your theme’s functions.php file or in a site-specific plugin.

Disable automatic WordPress plugin updates:

add_filter( 'auto_update_plugin', '__return_false' );

Disable automatic WordPress theme updates:

add_filter( 'auto_update_theme', '__return_false' );

Pros and Cons of Automatic WordPress Updates

Now you know how to disable automatic updates, but should you disable them? There’s no right answer and this depends on you and your website.

On our sites, we’ve disabled automatic plugin and theme updates while keeping the minor core updates enabled.

Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of automatic updates. That way, you can decide whether to disable auto-updates on your site.

Advantages of Automatic Updates in WordPress

Automatic updates are great for WordPress security. Many users forget to update their plugins or their core WordPress installation.

With automatic WordPress updates enabled, you don’t have to worry about updating your site whenever a minor update to WordPress is released. These are pushed out for maintenance and security purposes.

In the past, automatic updates were something you only got by paying for managed WordPress hosting. Now, they’re available for everyone (at least for minor releases).

You also know that if there’s a crucial security issue with WordPress or a popular plugin, then WordPress will automatically update. Even if you’re busy or away from home, your site will stay secure.

If you have a lot of sites, then automatic updates can save you quite a bit of time. And even if you only have one site, you might prefer the peace of mind of knowing that WordPress is taking care of things.

Disadvantages of Automatic Updates in WordPress

The core WordPress team responsible for releasing updates, makes sure that it goes without a hiccup.

However, there is a slight chance that automatic updates can break your site. In our experience, the minor releases haven’t broken any of our sites yet.

That’s because we are following the best practices and not modifying any core files. If you modify WordPress core files, then these automatic updates can override them.

If WordPress ever felt it necessary to push out a security update for a theme you are using, there is a chance that it will break your website. This particularly applies if you have modified your theme files.

Automatic plugin updates can potentially break your site as well. There are just too many variables, such as different server environments and plugin combinations.

Now it’s important to know that these updates will not break the vast majority of websites. Even so, you may feel you don’t want to take the risk.

Another drawback is that you won’t always automatically get a notification when your site is updated.

Should I Disable Automatic WordPress Updates?

Basically, it is up to you to make this decision.

For most beginners and vast majority of WordPress websites, automatic updates are harmless, and you should not disable them.

However, if you run an online store or don’t want to lose business due to a broken site, then you can safely turn off automatic updates.

Still, make sure that you manually install those updates in a timely manner to ensure your website’s security.

We hope this article helped you learn how to disable automatic updates in WordPress.

Whether you’re using automatic or manual updates, it’s crucial to make sure you have regular backups of your site. Take a look at our comparison of the best WordPress backup plugins and our guide on how to restore your WordPress site from a backup.

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Reader Interactions

97 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. I have found function.php file using my file manager in Cpanel but when I open function.php to edit there are a lot of coding and I am not understanding where to paste this code { add_filter( ‘auto_update_plugin’, ‘__return_false’ ); }

    • You would normally want to add it to the bottom for ease of removal in the future as well as avoiding adding it somewhere where it would have an issue

      Admin

  2. Every time WP autoupdates it screws up my sites. It’s been an absolute nightmare and now I’m dealing with how to fix a site yet again that it messed up the theme and I do not customize. It’s the Divi theme. Craziness, I miss the old ways of web design, this is a constant nightmare.

  3. I been having trouble with the hestia theme although I’m using a child theme. It keeps changing the footer to the default although I coded to make sure it changed to what I want.

    Which of these forms would benefit me the most to accomplish what I seek?

    My knowledge of php is alright, so I can try coding if it is the better choice.

    • Hi Yan,

      We would suggest that you contact theme author to figure out the most effective way to modify the footer. If you are using easy updates manager plugin, then you can disable all theme updates.

      Admin

  4. This is going to be a very important article! I have disabled all the updates, I hate Gutenberg!

  5. Hello.

    I have just installed this plugin. Can someone please confirm to me that even though I have disabled all updates (plugins, themes, WP updates, etc), I will still receive notification that an update is available by simply logging into my WP Admin?

    If this is the case, when I do a manual update, will I have to disable this plugin to complete the action?

    Thanks all,
    David.

    • David, I appears that this question was asked about eight months ago, so I will go ahead and answer for all future viewers asking themselves the same question. I assume you have already found the answer…

      When you disable automatic updates with a plugin or using the PHP constant variables, the WP-Admin will still show that there are updates available. At this point, you will have to manually update the core, themes, or plugins within the Wp-Admin interface or a remote manager.

      I hope this was helpful.

  6. Thank you for the guideline how to stop auto update of WordPress version.
    My story is – the first time I face version auto update problem on 4.8.3 that is working good for front page but I stuck to open my dashboard. It shows fatal error. My mind is going black what I do for this how to recover. But the jetpack plugin saves the site by going on wordpress.com and disabling installed plugins one by one and at last, I found the plugging that was not updated from last 2 years and that was causing a problem.
    I spend 6 months on the site and there is too much information that way I scared to follow manual process to go in code via hosting or ftp and change or rename folders one by one and check the reflection.
    Because on this process one big problem is to fully break site on that case the backup is the way to go back on the previous stage but I also still not try how to recover from a backup and this is one of the most dangerous for right now.

    I am sharing this story with you all because what I fell in that situation was too bad and I don’t what any to put them self in this situation, So it’s best to practice for all these types of a problem at starting face though demos. It’s best to stop our self-entering in the red zone.

  7. As in the official wordpress site:

    Only:

    define( ‘AUTOMATIC_UPDATER_DISABLED’, true );

    will disable all automatic updates.

    define( ‘WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE’, false );

    will disable only wp core auto updates as the definition says.

  8. The recommendation to use “add_filter” on wp-config.php is noobish and tend to cause problems – along to break wp-cli (wp-cli.org) to work with your WordPress install.

    Use instead:

    define( ‘AUTOMATIC_UPDATER_DISABLED’, true );

    And ALWAYS put it BEFORE the line that says “That’s it, stop editing!”

  9. My horror story was about falling for the concept that backing up my website would protect me from a WP major upgrade.

    After manually upgrading my site with a major upgrade, the site broke, so i went to my favorite save my *ss backup software Updraft plus, only to find that the WP upgrade changed the database structure and file names. The backup was worthless because the database couldn’t be overwritten.

    Arghh! I had to find an older version of WP and start from scratch with a new DB and WP install. I could then use my backup software to get my client’s website back by installing the plugin. Be aware, WP upgrades can totally change the database structure!

  10. After months of having auto updates totally disabled with the ‘WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE’ false tweak, my WP has managed to auto update on its own!! I was in 3.9 and now all of a sudden I’m in 4.2.2. How’s that possible? Do those folks still have some secret, hidden ace under the sleeve for forcing auto update on people like me?

  11. I hate automatic WordPress updates. The last one broke my theme.
    So thank you so much for the way to diable this.

    • It’s a totally commercial thing. Nothing really much to do with “security” and that kind of mantra. We’re in a capitalistic world, and everything is ruled by money. Even “free” software is. :-)

  12. Updating automatically is a no go for me, alot of customization is in place and needs to be measured against new wordpress versions before proceeding to update-definitely will use this Code. Thanx

    • Of course it can happen!

      When you download a theme you should check which WP Version is it compatible with.

      Always keep on mind that you shouldn’t update the core although there is an update release available unless your plug-ins, and customizations have been tested to be compatible with the version you want to update to by you or the authors of such extensions.

  13. For me, I hate when something si updated (rewrited) with no control or whatsoever. The might be not compatble plugin having all webpage killed.

  14. Just experienced an automatic update and even though it worked fine, I found this tip and turned off the auto updates as fast as I could. I hate it when something suddenly starts working different and I have to spend time trying to figure out why. I live my life at my pace, not yours.

  15. Automatic updates are a phenomenally bad idea for web applications. If they screw up the update (like MS has done with Windows updates a number of times), they will be potentially hosing millions of public sites that businesses rely on. Or worse, if the system is exploited, they’d be giving access to millions of servers to hackers, spammers, and who knows who else.
    No to mention, its just plain dangerous to allow executable files (PHP in this case) to be writable by the web server.
    Anyways, thanks for the post.

  16. I agree this is a bad policy and they should create an on/off option in the General Settings. I want to update in a timely manner, but I have run into many situations where a plug-in doesn’t work with the latest WP upgrade. I usually have to wait until the plug-in dev fixes their plug-ins.

    If WP could guarantee all plugins are upgraded to work with new updates before they deploy, then sure, it makes sense. But that will never happen in an open source world.

  17. For what it’s worth, my sites all DID auto-update through a major release. (3.7x to 3.8x and 3.8x to 3.9x)

  18. I totally agree with the WordPress Automatic Updates.

    As a business owner and selling wordpress extensions, our business model arrived just in time.

    Long gone are the days when developers can sell extensions with a lifetime of Updates and Support, who in any business offers a service which is not payed for? It is just not viable or sustainable for any business.

    The up keep for maintaining WordPress and e-commerce extensions to be compatible with newer versions is very demanding on any team.

    This will really add a new dimension for the developers selling extensions that are not maintained. Usually the cheaper extensions, eventually you may find that these developers will not continue to sell their product.

    We started out selling all of our products at a cost of $** offering 1 year of Updates and Support included in this price, any subsequent years thereafter require a new Licence key at a discounted price to continue to receive: Activation, Updates and Support.

    The WordPress automatic updates make sense to us, this is our business and maintaining all of our extensions is what we do.
    It does take a lot of time and testing, and then of course the product information, product descriptions, product screen casts, product documentation all needs to be updated as well.

    There may be some clients that never updated their WordPress, e-commerce extensions, and eventually something will break.

    But then there are also the clients that update their extensions the minute there is a notification there is an Update.

    If all developers are in the same boat with maintaining their code to suit any new versions, it is a level playing field l agree with.

    Nicole from Extension Works.

    • Nicole, you are so wrong that I don’t know where to begin.

      First, I did not authorize Yoast to change my update settings, and I’m mad as H__L.

      Second, the rule is NEVER EVER UPDATE BEFORE DOING A WEBSITE BACKUP. When websites do auto update that safety feature is precluded.

      Third, the clumsy auto loading of the WP updates has somehow knocked one of my non-wordpress sites off the internet – Google says:

      “If you are the owner of this web site you have not uploaded (or incorrectly uploaded) your web site. For information on uploading your web site using FTP client software or web design software, click here for FTP Upload Information.”

      That is my oldest website, not wordpress, and the “update hack” that Yoast installed without my permission caused this and more. I have not changed any configuration on the affected website; the auto WP updates to a subdomain of that primary domain caused this.

      Now I have to waste time I had already scheduled to get GoDaddy techs to get my servers straight.

      Believe me, when I finish that task I’ll get Yoast’s attention on social media.

      Edit: There were not one but TWO of my 6 websites knocked offline by the ill-conceived “hack” by Yoast. If you listen closely you can hear me sizzle.

  19. Thanks for the snippet! i just tought my web has been updated by someone else, freak me out! haha

    • Mohsin, a better strategy is to create a child theme and make all your changes in the child theme. But if you must stop your theme update, then you can do that by editing the theme header in the style.css file.

      Admin

  20. Ha! i thought the client had updated the site so i disabled ftp just to find out it’s WordPress default. LOL!

    Never have I heard such a stupid idea in all my time as a developer! How did that get passed – is there an online thread discussing this stupid idea?

  21. Well, I had a site update to 3.8.2 automatically yesterday and when I went to work this morning, the site’s homepage was broken.

    I use genesis framework and a child theme, so I have not edited the core. The site was almost ready to go live, and now I can only hope genesis can help me fix it.

    I have a backup, but reallllllly don’t need the hassle of that, especially as it was taken a few days ago.

    I will definitely be turning off automatic updates and think they are a terrible idea. Too many variables between plugins and theme conflicts to trust something without taking an immediate backup prior to updating. :O(

  22. Ok, but what if a hacker takes control over the wordpress server for updates and then push a malicious update?? Half of the websites of the world down, the biggest DoS ever or every server infected with malware. IM FREAKING OUT!!

  23. The automatic updates are a bad idea. What about plug-in compatibility issues?! I like to be sure that the principal plug-ins that I use on my website are compatible with the latest version of WordPress BEFORE WordPress is updated. Finding out AFTER when a plug-in breaks my site because it isn’t yet compatible with the latest version of WordPress is a headache that I don’t need. The fact that WordPress wouldn’t have thought about this before implementing the automatic updates is quite surprising!

    • I agree! Qtranslate, for example, is a pain as it is coded with the latest wp version number written into the code …

    • I am very wary of installing plugins unless I absolutely need them.

      Plus I always check with the theme developer about conflicting plugins… I’ve had some bad experiences.

      I recommend only using premium plugins because of support and updates

  24. I would disable automatic updates because sometimes WordPress updates because a lot of the time it breaks functionality or messes up the layout on the site. This happens when I’m using a theme that doesn’t work with the new version of WordPress, or if my site is integrated with the Yii Framework (PHP MVC architecture). It’s better if i’m able to test out the update on a test site instead of the live site automatically updating.

    Thanks for the information on how to disable!

  25. Thank you for this, I manage quite a few wordpress sites, not everyone has the budget to be where they would like to be at all times, not all the sites have the ‘best’ of code, some are way old so are using older plugins, lots of things can go wrong in an update..

    WordPress adding this in without ‘warning’ really is kind of wrong in my opinion.

    and my manual update to 3.8 the other day broke a website because the contact form 7 extra plugin for ‘uplicate confirm email’ is outdated..

    as long as you stay within a few updates, your going to be pretty secure, and we always do it on a ‘dev’ folder first..

    T

  26. The last update ruined my good working product. It took a couple days to repair. Is this going to happen on all wordpress updates. I’ve got more to do then fixing my site.

  27. i don’t like automatic updates because I would rather wait in case there are bugs. Also, if there is a problem I have 80-100 customers. What if there is a problem on ALL those sites? I am going to disable automatic updates on my site and on future sites for sure.

    • I’m with you Sharon. It’s a disaster waiting to happen. That’s why I am here because I have a client who noticed and complained about why his website look keeps changing.

      Thanks to WordPress community for making the software more secure.

      Thanks for the advice here.

  28. I think I have enough off those peoples who think any non technical computer-user is a moron
    I think that the sheer arrogance of the WordPress developers is something I don’t want
    to deal with any longer, so after 6 years of happy using it’s goodbye to WordPress….
    and on the look-out for a new Cms sytem without developers trying to make my decisions

    • Agree.
      Something pretty strange is going on over the Internet. From G, FB,WP…hosting companies…, “security” softwares….., open source browsers and other software we need to use the Internet….seems like everyone is hurrying over each other to make our life “easier” and “safer” by full beg of automatic updates and other “services” running “on our behalf”, with little or no control on our side what’s going on and what’s being done.
      Automation like that very likely may destroy peoples long-years efforts results in a second,
      without anyone being responsible for such effect.
      Coz’ things are complicated and not synchronized to the point that in most cases you would need to spend months if not years to locate where problem(s) arouse from .I doubt anyone of us could deal with such situation. Anyone using WP knows that you need at list 10-20 plugins to make it work per your essential needs. And just coping with plugins and WP updates none of them synchronized with each other, costs you too much time, nerves and energy. Seems like we should be occupied only by doing that.

      Makes no sense.
      Not good.

      • Of course it makes sense, it is totally necessary automatic browser updates or we would be stucked in the old ie 6/7 until now with all kind of old css support. You can be angry, but all developpers are thankfull for browser updates, it’s the way microsoft should have done long time ago and we wouldn’t have this crap ie 6 / 7 / 8 versions running until now. We have a major delay in web creativity and innovation today becouse of this, and we are slowing getting of this cenario!

  29. Brought a site down today with the 3.8.1, didn’t even know this would happen. turned it off on all other sites. Won’t allow that to happen again. Update on a friday so I can spend my weekend cleaning up the mess they make. and then delete all threads started on wp support about broken sites. Seems like they don’t want people to know they break sites and leave it for you to clean up the mass

  30. My two cents: Automatic updates seem to always happen to me at the most inconvenient time. That’s reason enough to turn them off. Thanks for the article!

  31. I have been a WordPress user since 2007, and since added 3 more websites using WP. I have always updated my own sites when new versions of WP became available. When learning about updates back in 2007 I recall that specific and important instructions were given that all plugins must be disabled before updating to a new version of WP. Therefore, I’ve always done that. Now, with the automatic update for minor versions, my sites are being automatically updated. Does that mean they disable the plugins? If not, what has changed that plugins no longer need to be disabled? I’m a little nervous about this.

    • Glen, there is no need to worry about that. During the update, WordPress puts your site in maintenance mood which is just like disabling plugins. It then updates your site and then turns off maintenance mood.

      Admin

      • Thanks a whole bunch, support. I probably should have known that. You’ve certainly put me at ease over this. My previous concerns have gone out the window. Again, thank you.

  32. you say what file to add it to. where to we add it in that file? my config file has lots of stuff in it that I dont want to mess up. where do I paste the code in that file? need more info please.

  33. I have two websites that were totally broken last time the updates took place. I have changed core files on http://pizzaspotz.com and http://gotinterviews.com. I am very inexperienced at making child themes. I just don’t seem to be able to do it. Just call me ignorant. But I wonder if I create child themes one day, I could then go ahead and enable automatic updates on these two sites and the auto updates will no longer break the sites.

      • Just had to visit your site again today to double check how to disable these updates. I saw WP had updated some of my sites and I guess I’m forgetting a lot these days. I double checked and found my two sites which were messed up in the last update were indeed disabled.

        Again, kudos to your easy tutorial.

  34. Will adding this line of code into my configuration file help multi-site installations? I need clarification / verification before running that.

  35. Hey guys,

    I thought I’d let you know of an addition we’ve made to our plugin which lets you completely customize most of the WordPress Automatic Updates for your sites.

    You’ll find it under the “Auto Updates” section of the WordPress Simple Firewall ( http://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-simple-firewall/ )

    Hope you like! :)
    Paul.

  36. Not happy with being “forced” to have automatic updates without the option of turning them off. Even though I know how to put this code into wp-config.php, other people might not have a clue, and I think we should at least be given an on/off switch in the dashboard where we could have the choice to disable automatic updates if we wanted to.

    Thanks for this snippet of code though. I will apply it to all my sites now (and I have a LOT of WP sites!).

    • I absolutely agree. The WordPress user documents themselves specify to ALWAYS BACK UP before updating, and now we don’t have that option because our sites update themselves without asking our permission. And you have to hack the code to turn it off. That’s ridiculous and utterly FOOLISH!

      If they’re going to make this a default, then I’m with you – there needs to be an “off” switch or checkbox in the settings.

  37. Syed, I’m wondering why the code you provide here seems to be strongly discouraged by Andrew Nacin in this post: http://make.wordpress.org/core/2013/10/25/the-definitive-guide-to-disabling-auto-updates-in-wordpress-3-7/

    “The constant AUTOMATIC_UPDATER_DISABLED can be used to disable the automatic updater entirely. It’s like DISALLOW_FILE_MODS — no changes allowed at all — but it’s specific to the auto updater.

    Don’t use this to block only core updates! You’ll also be blocking a lot of other functionality. You won’t get translation updates (language packs) for core, themes, and plugins. You won’t receive update notifications sent via email to alert you of new WordPress releases. It also disables all opportunity for fine-grained control.”

    Or am I (likely) misunderstanding something?

  38. Are you sure that the code with “true” is right, or is this a mistake and you’ve to add “false” to the code to disable the updates?

    For my self I want to update wordpress alone, without any background updates. It would be cool if you’ve an option to decide yourself to deactivate automatic updates.

  39. Thank for this tip, I always prefer to test the compatibility of a new version with plugins installed before using it in production

  40. Thank you for posting this quick tip. I just installed WP 3.7 and although I DO want to run the latest version, I still want to be in control in regard to updates-it just makes me nervous something changing without me being aware of, because if something goes wrong after I make a change at least I have a good idea where to start troubleshooting. I recently installed a plug-in updater (which supposed to automatically update my plug-ins) and all I was left with was a blank screen!!. Took me (bloody beginner) a while to get it back up and running. The plug-ins weren’t the problem the updater was, by ignoring some of the installed versions [i.e. 2.3.1 and ignoring the third digit -the (.1)] Don’t wanna go through that shit again.

  41. @ Henk – For the most part i agree with you, however there are situations in which automatic updates may not be desirable. In my own case I disabled auto updates a while back due to the fact that I have my own system of checks and balances in place. I think that for those users who are vigilant about updating and maintaining their sites, auto-updates are less important than they would be for most users.

  42. I was horrified after upgrading to 3.7 to see the notice that updates would be automatic. Thank you for posting this fix. I’m still struggling with learning how to use the theme functions file so still have a number of changes to the core files. I know it’s ill-advised but all the changes I’ve made are cosmetic….

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