Backing Up WordPress
It is critical to get a complete backup of your WordPress website before any updates. There are two WordPress backup plugins we recommend.
This backup plugin has proven very reliable. It backs up your WordPress site into Themes, Plugins, Database, Uploads (images and PDF), and Other files.
Duplicator is another decent WordPress plugin. It puts all of your files into a “Package” that also includes an Installation script so that you may replicate or move your entire website. Note: The free version of this plugin does not include the code to do a restore / move. You need to upgrade to the pro version for that.
Remote WordPress Backup Storage
It is a very good idea to save a copy of your backups to a location outside of your web server. That way, if you ever loose your web server, you don’t loose your backups as well. Updraft Plus offers an easy way to store your backups remotely. Just select the service you want to use, e.g. Google Drive or Dropbox, and following the instructions to connect the backup process to the remove storage.
Steps for a Successful WordPress Update
Use a backup Plugin to do a complete backup of Themes, Plugins, Uploads, and other files / folders that are in the WordPress wp-content folder. Tips: Confirm that your backup was successful and check to make sure the files match your live installation. Also, use Remote Storage (Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.) so you have a backup of your website outside of your web server.
Updating Plugins is very important to ensure they work well together within WordPress and are current. In addition to functionality improvements, often WordPress Plugins are updated to fix security flaws. The Plugin update process can also be where problems may arise with updating WordPress. It’s important to be extremely careful during the Plugin update process, and make sure there are no errors. You’ll also want to review your website immediately after updating plugins to make sure it is behaving correctly, i.e. as it was prior to the updates.
It is wise to keep Themes updated to ensure they work with the latest WordPress core. Even Themes that are not active should be updated as these are sometimes the targets for security exploits and malicious code. It is highly recommended that you create a Child Theme for your main theme. A child theme keeps important files outside of your main theme folder, so when the Parent theme is updated, your specific customizations are not lost. As example, your custom styles, functions, header and footer are common elements that are typically kept separate in a child theme.