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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.

Method 1. Disabling Automatic WordPress Updates Using Code (Recommended)

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 for 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.

Disable automatic WordPress plugin updates:

add_filter( 'auto_update_plugin', '__return_false' );

Disable automatic WordPress theme updates:

add_filter( 'auto_update_theme', '__return_false' );

But, an easier and safer way to do it is by using the WPCode code snippets plugin.

WPCode WordPress code snippets plugin

WPCode makes it easy to add code snippets in WordPress without editing your theme’s functions.php file.

Plus, it comes with a built-in code library where you can find PHP code snippets for popular feature requests like disabling automatic WordPress updates, disabling REST API, disabling comments, and more.

This eliminates the need to install a bunch of single-use plugins.

To get started, you need to install and activate the free WPCode plugin. If you need help, see our guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Once the plugin is activated, head to Code Snippets » Library from your WordPress admin dashboard.

Then, search for the ‘Disable Automatic Updates’ snippet and click on the ‘Use snippet’ button.

Choose the Disable Automatic Updates snippet from WPCode library

WPCode will then automatically add the code snippet and select the proper insertion method.

The code snippet has three filters to disable WordPress core updates, plugin updates, and theme updates.

WPCode's Disable Automatic Updates snippet

If you don’t want to use one of these filters, simply edit the code to add an //at the beginning of the filter line.

For example, adding an // to the core auto-updates filter line will prevent it from executing. So, you’ll still get automatic updates for the core, but not for plugins and themes.

Edit the Disable Automatic Update filters

After that, all you need to do is toggle the switch from ‘Inactive’ to ‘Active.’

Then, click on the ‘Update’ button.

Activate and update snippet in WPCode

That’s it. You’ve now disabled automatic updates in WordPress.

Method 2. Configuring and Disabling Automatic WordPress Updates With a Plugin

Another way to disable automatic WordPress updates 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.

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 the 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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99 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.

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