WordPress is always changing. Because there are so many websites that use WordPress, it is constantly improving. It’s important to keep your website up to date and here are three big reasons why.
First, and probably the most important, is security. WordPress has A LOT of users which has its advantages and disadvantages. The disadvantage is because of the high number of websites built with WordPress, there are also a lot of unscrupulous hackers who seem to enjoy trying to hack into websites. If one of these folks happen to uncover a “hole” in the software, it can be exploited quickly! WordPress is usually quick to fix those “holes” though, and they put out an update to close them.
The advantage of having a lot of users is that the “holes” may also be found by them and reported to WordPress to fix before they can be exploited. Bottom line is, security is the biggest reason to keep your WordPress installation up to date.
Second, even with the best of testing processes, some bugs, or software glitches, get through. As those bugs are found and repaired, new updates are released for WordPress.
Third, because of the number of users, WordPress is always adding new functionality to meet the needs of the users and improve the user experience. Getting the new functionality can help you make your website better and help make WordPress easier for you to use.
These are the three main reasons to make sure your WordPress is up to date.
WordPress updates are released in two ways: Major or Maintenance updates.
The Major updates are numbered like 4.0, 4.1, 4.2, etc. These typically include new functionality and new features. Major releases are more likely to include bugs and possible problems because of the new features.
Maintenance releases are typically bug fixes and security updates and are numbered like 4.1.1, 4.1.2, etc. Usually, soon after a major release, the first maintenance release comes out. So my personal preference is to wait for the first maintenance release and let others work out the problems, if there are any.
So, how do you know when you need to update?
The easiest way is to log into your website and you will see a notification on your dashboard that there is a new version of WordPress available. You can simply update it with a click of a button.
IMPORTANT: Before you update your site, be sure you have a current backup just in case anything goes wrong. A new version of WordPress could cause problems with either your theme or any of the plugins you have installed. Conflicts are less likely if you stick to mainstream, maintained plugins and themes, however.
If you are nervous to update, you can hire a WordPress expert to do it for you. Let me know if you need help!