The difference between Auto-updates and Managed Updates for WordPress is that Auto-updates are done with an automated script with no quality assurance (QA) protocols. Managed updates are done by human beings that make sure the front end of the site hasn’t changed after an update has completed.
One of the most common piece of advice for securing any technology is to keep all of your software up to date. This is because when a new security vulnerability is detected, software distributors rush to patch this vulnerability and push out the fix to the most recent version. Therefore updating your software is the easiest way to make sure that your technology is safe and secure.
This advise is also crucial for your WordPress installation. Keeping your WordPress Plugins, WordPress Themes, and WordPress core up-to-date will not only allow for you to benefit from all of the new features and changes, but also will make sure that your installation is as secure as possible.
Because of how important updates are, the WordPress core developers implemented automated plug-in and theme updates in WordPress 5.5. This feature marks a significant step in the right direction for maintaining a secure and stable WordPress installation. However, can also cause problems for some if not fully understood.
For some websites that rely heavily on plugins for the front-end appearance of the site, (or for WordPress themes that have been heavily edited inside the theme itself), updating plugins and themes can inadvertently break a site. For this reason many website owners choose not to update their plugins or themes and only do so when they have the ability to fix problems that may arise quickly.
By using the Auto-update feature found in WordPress 5.5, sites may be vulnerable to breaking if a plug-in or theme is updated automatically. Especially if that plugin or theme has been customized or used in a nontraditional way.
To fix this problem we offer Managed Updates to all of our customers. Managed Updates means that instead of an automated process on the server updating plugins and themes, a human being will oversee the updates instead. During our update process the technician assigned goes through a series of quality assurance (QA) steps to make sure the updates to plugins and themes do not break the website. The following are the steps we take for every Managed Update that we do daily for every site:
- Back up the site. This allows for us to quickly roll back changes if needed.
- Check the up-time monitor for real-time HTTP status.
- Take before screenshot of the homepage or any high value content assets.
- Update plugins, themes, and core in that order as needed.
- Check the up-time monitor again for real-time HTTP status.
- Take after screenshot of the homepage or any high value content assets.
- Compare before and after screenshots with live browser testing.
For many websites that use basic themes and plugins with very little editing of each the Auto-updates can be a suitable option. However, if your website is more complex or it is critical that your site stay secure and as stable as possible, Managed Updates are likely the best option for you. If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help you with your Managed Updates please contact us today!