WordPress is among the most popular content management systems. As a matter of fact, it accounts for about 50% of the market share in the top 1 million sites. With so many users and developers behind it, it's in constant need of updates and bug fixes. Most minor updates take place without anyone noticing them. They don't ask for permissions and usually are installed automatically in the background.
Major updates, however, happen about 3 times a year and need to be approved. But is updating WordPress necessary? What's the importance of those updates? What purpose do they serve? Let's take a look.
When it comes to the internet, there's no such thing as absolute security. Total risk elimination is impossible, so the focus is on risk reduction, and that's a process. Keeping a WordPress site as secure as it could be is a process as well. Most major updates primarily involve security fixes and upgrades, and this is why it's essential to keep up with the latest developments.
Over 90,000 websites are hacked every day around the world, and contrary to popular belief - it's not just government or bank websites. Many smaller sites with next to no traffic are a popular target, if not the mostpopular, as well.
Black Hat Hackers
WordPress offers free and open source distribution. This means anyone can inspect the source code to learn and improve it. Including the so-called black hat hackers. They are what's considered the evil side of the internet. Criminals, crooks, and data thieves. If an older WordPress version that has known vulnerabilities is being used, it makes for quite an easy target.
Now, many people think that these hackers have nothing to steal from them. No millions of dollars in bank accounts, no incriminating pictures somewhere online. However, most hackers don't want to steal anything either way. What they usually do is infect websites, send spam emails, and attack servers. This causes a person's IP address to be blacklisted, damaging a site's reputation or getting it blocked.
White Hat Hackers
On the other side of the spectrum, there are the so-called white hat hackers - what some would call morally right. These hackers are usually employed by a company to purposefully hack the website to find its vulnerabilities. When it comes to WordPress, this kind of hacker would work to discover potential security gaps, locate the vulnerabilities, then report them so that they can be fixed.
With a WordPress update, the potential issues are usually solved, and everyone can rest easy knowing their website is as secure as possible.
Mobile VPN as a Precaution
A Virtual Private Network, or VPN, serves to encrypt data and traffic, and most people rely on VPNs on their computers and laptops. Enhancing a website's security through them is an excellent idea. Many forget to secure their mobile devices, however. About 70% of internet traffic comes from smartphones, and those who have WordPress sites often update and check them through their phones. This is why securing a website through a mobile Virtual Private Network application is highly advisable.
Connecting to a public network when visiting a WordPress site makes the site vulnerable to hacker attacks. A mobile VPN works to encrypt all the data and create a private secure connection with the public network.
Every major WordPress release goes through rigorous testing, but it's not uncommon for minor bugs to slip through the cracks. Some bugs don't have any particular effects on a website, but it's always better to be safe than sorry. Certain issues can slow down the loading times, cause compatibility issues, or make certain features inaccessible.
The WordPress community keeps on growing, and they encourage the collaborative development of hundreds of plugins and themes, and certain bugs can be found in them as well. The newest updates work to fix those bugs and provide a better user experience. What's more, when encountering a problem with an older version of a WordPress website, forums that can usually help solve any issue become unhelpful. The number one thing that usually helps fix issues and bugs is an update.
If a website takes over 3 seconds to load, 53% of visitors will abandon it. The load speed is also taken into account by the search engines when ranking a page, and a better load speed makes for a more successful site.
Since everyone today focuses on speed, WordPress developers are constantly working on making everything faster. A better load speed attracts more site visitors and makes it likely that the visitors will stay around for longer periods of time. Every millisecond counts, and updating the WordPress website ensures better load speeds, bringing maximum performance benefits, and improving the user experience.
With such a great focus on user experience, there's a big need for new features and plugins. Every major WordPress update includes changes to the software that ensure maximum satisfaction. With the newest features, a user can draft and revise posts, there's usually an improved plugin install experience, faster updates, better image editing, and more. What's important to keep in mind, however, is that most of the features and plugins are designed to be compatible with the newest version of WordPress.
With a WordPress update, it's crucial to update all third-party features as well. Usually, third-party developers try to stay on schedule with the new WordPress releases, but this isn't always the case, and it could cause compatibility issues. Backing up a WordPress site before updating it is an optional step that could save someone a lot of trouble if there are any compatibility issues. Neglecting to update to the newest version could put the website at high risk, affecting the website traffic and the business as well.
So, overall, WordPress updates are essential for keeping your website up to date. Providing enhanced security, fixing bugs, increasing load speeds, and adding new features ensures that a website offers excellent user experience.