Should I update to the newest version of WordPress?

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Should you update to the newest version of WordPress?

Probably not right away.

My target reader for this article is the civilian who manages his or her own WordPress blog or Web site and a person relatively new to WordPress development. If you build WordPress themes and plugins for a living, or if you’re otherwise deep into WordPress development, you probably know all this and have your own ideas. (Which isn’t to say I wouldn’t welcome your feedback.)

WordPress 3.5 (representing a major release, succeeding Version 3.4.2) was released to the public a little over a week ago. And it offers some exceptional new goodies. But I still say: hold off on updating.

When you logged into your WordPress dashboard, you were probably greeted with:

WordPress 3.5 is available! Please update now.

The WordPress Dashboard Update Nag

Should you have updated? Should you update now if you haven’t yet?

Like I said, probably not right away.

Why not?

Because first versions of software usually have bugs.

Because your Web site might depend on the proper functioning of some plugin that worked fine pre-update but crashes post-update.

So, unless you’re prepared to revert your WordPress Web site to its previous state in the event of an update-related crisis, I’d hold off.

Don’t they test these things?

Yes, many people tested the software in its “beta” version. But way many more will test it in its release version. Let them identify bugs and shortcomings. (They’ve already started.)

Many WordPress developers I know have updated only one or two test sites to 3.5, leaving their production sites (and their clients’ production sites) on version 3.4.2. These are people who create WordPress plugins and WordPress custom themes for a living. They develop WordPress Web sites. They write books and tutorials about WordPress.

One-Click Automatic Update is tempting, but…

These are people who didn’t simply click the “automatic update” button. Instead, they followed a painstaking procedure involving multiple backups.

For the more belt-and-suspenders types among us, here’s a procedure borrowed from colleague MaAnna Stephenson:

  1. complete backup of the WordPress database and files
  2. update plugins and themes
  3. check your site
  4. complete backup again
  5. update WordPress
  6. check your site
  7. complete backup again
  8. update plugins and themes again
  9. check your site
  10. complete backup again

Did you employ the above — or some other responsible — procedure (such as the one recommended in the codex) prior to updating? Are you prepared to?

How about me?

At this writing, I have updated only one WordPress Web site to 3.5: this one. I’m looking for plugin problems and have already found (and reported) some. I’m monitoring many WordPress-related discussion forums where I hear about others’ issues with WordPress 3.5. I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, a word to the wise…

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The nSiteful Tech Blog (the official blog of nSiteful Web Builders, Inc. since January of 2013) is where I (Jeff Cohan) and (occasionally) associates will be posting articles of potential interest to like-minded techies, nSiteful clients who are playing active roles in the maintenance of their own Web sites and blogs, and pretty much anyone interested in how Web strategies and tools can help them reach their goals.

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About Jeff Cohan

Jeff and his wife, Margie, are the proud parents of Sarah and Jake. Jeff is the founder, president and chief cook and bottle washer of nSiteful Web Builders, Inc., a Web development and Internet Consulting firm. In his spare time, Jeff builds Web sites and Web applications, plays guitar, putters around in his basement woodworking shop, mercilessly spoils his grandchildren, and creates videos from more than two decades of home movies. His current video project is an extended montage of people (mainly family members) asking him to stop filming them.

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