Last Updated on August 3, 2021
Updates are a generally misunderstood process. Most don’t realize just what updates are for and what they are doing when you get them installed. In this article I hope to explain a bit about just why they are important and why you should pay attention to them. I won’t go into a lot of depth but will give a general overview of what they do, what they are for and why they are important.
It is very important to keep things updated. For websites, your WordPress or Joomla version should always be updated to the newest version. Your plugins and extensions should also be updated regularly. Your cell phones are another example as is the operating system on your computer along with all of the apps on your computer and cell phone. By keeping things updated you ensure that you are getting the latest versions with the latest fixes for security issues. Plus, usually updates will be adding or fixing certain features that are in place which is the reason for the update. A lot of the vulnerabilities that hackers use are from exploits only found in older versions of software. The newer versions tend to be the ones that have fixes in place for known problems. By keeping your software updated you keep the hackers from using known vulnerabilities against you, or at least, the known vulnerabilities that have been fixed in recent updates.
It is important to keep up with the version updates and all the plugin updates as they come out. The updates can be done for security fixes, added features or increased ease of use. All of these are things you want to be able to take advantage of as soon as possible. By staying with the newest updates you increase the chances that older vulnerabilities will have been fixed and that newer vulnerabilities have not yet been found and either one of those instances increases the security of your site, app or device. By keeping up with your updates you limit the amount of time that hackers have to find and devise new ways to penetrate your system, app or device and you take advantage of any exploit fixes that the developers have found and incorporated into the new updates.
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In the last couple of years the CMSs have gotten much better in their updating processes. It used to be common that when WordPress or Joomla did a version update there would be problems occurring on at least some proportion of their sites. In the last couple of years those figures have improved tremendously. First and to a greater extent with WordPress, but Joomla has also gotten much better at updates. Of the couple hundred sites I used to monitor I used to always have to do some repair work on some of the sites with both WordPress and Joomla whenever there was a version update. First, WordPress improved their update process and it has been well over a year and half since I saw serious problems arising from updates. Joomla played catchup but they also improved their update process. I had already moved almost all of the sites I monitored over to WordPress as it offers, to me, a better set of features, better performance, and increased user friendliness over Joomla
After making updates it is always advisable to double check the site or your phone, computer or whatever you are updating to make sure that the update didn’t break anything. Even though it is now a much rarer thing than it used to be it does still happen. I have found that the fixes are generally much simpler than they used to be and it is rare that a version rollback might be necessary. With WordPress I have really been impressed by the low frequency of problems with updates, especially considering that just a couple of years ago I could pretty much count on having to do some repair work on at lease some of the sites I monitored every time there was a WordPress version update and quite often with just plugin or theme updates. That has thankfully, dropped down to an almost non-existent level. Almost, but a great improvement in how well their update procedures and processes work. I can even say that Joomla has also made great strides with their update procedure as well though I still believe their platform is just not as good as the WordPress platform.
The main reason to keep up with your updates is for security. Security should be a main concern for anyone with a website, a phone or a computer. Every site has hack attempts constantly trying to find a way in to do a variety of different kinds of hacks, none of which you want to see happen. Hackers are also always trying to hack into everyone’s computers and phones. Updates is the single best line of defense in that war. There are many other factors in the security arena that are relevant but updates are an easily done and basic defense that actually is a big help.
Security is not the only reason to keep up with your updates. New features may be added that you might find very useful. Something may have its ease of use increased in a new update and you may want to have that advantage. Also, older versions, after a certain point will have problems even running on systems that are kept up to date. Systems are just that, a system. Something like WordPress is made to work with all of its plugins and themes. As the version changes those plugins and themes change also. After several updates, older versions may not work properly with the newer versions. Usually it takes several updates for things to get out of whack but if you don’t keep up with them a year’s worth of updates can really fly by. It is best not to let updates pile up but to use them as they come out. That way everything stays up to date.
Sometimes it can seem like a real pain to take the time to do your updates but it is time that should be taken. Doing your updates should be something that you take the time to do regularly. If you make a point of making time to do your updates they will not seem to be as big an imposition as they might otherwise be. I tend to check my sites, software and devices at least weekly to make sure that I keep up. You might want to do that more often, less often, or just set it up to be notified anytime updates are available and do them as the updates come out. The important part is just to make sure that you get them done. Updates are actually more important than most people think. I hope this article has got across that those annoying update notifications are actually a call to action. It is an easy way to make everything more secure plus you get all the latest features and performance bonuses. It really is worth your time to do your updates.
I hope this article has gotten across the importance of doing your updates and why you should care.