We've come across a few sites recently where the website content management system (CMS) (for example, WordPress) hadn't been updated for several months (or longer). In addition, several plug-ins and add-ons were also running old versions. In fact, in one example, a plug-in was no longer updated by the plug-in's author .... and hadn't been active for two years! Here's why it is important to make sure that your website software is updated regularly.
- Better security. CMS developers will normally release security enhancements that increase the protection against website hackers and other attacks. It's just common sense to apply these as soon as you can or get your web developer to do it. It's been stated that 83% of hacked WordPress sites hadn't been updated so that should be an incentive! As well as the parent software, it's also very important to keep plug-ins updated.
- Squish those bugs. Web software developers will always be fixing (usually minor) bugs that have been reported by users. Whilst bugs sometimes only occur in rare circumstances and are often not the cause of security problems, it's a good idea to update in order to remove these.
- More features. It might be sometimes true that not everyone wants new features and not every new feature is a good thing! However, in most cases they will provide extra functionality so it's well worth updating to get this. If you have paid good money for your website and the software, it's worth making sure that you get any new features when they are released, especially as, in many cases, new versions are often a free or cheap upgrade.
In the latest version of WordPress, auto update is now turned on by default so that will help website owners and developers keep things updated. In some other website software, for example ecommerce shops, the admin control panel will often check for updates after you login and display a message saying that a new version is available.
Some software is easily updated but whatever the ease of use, you should make sure that you back-up your website files and database before doing any software updates. If in doubt, get in touch with your website developer!