Step by Step Free Guide on How to Update WordPress Safely and Create a Cloned Copy of Your WordPress Site
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When I first started writing this post, my plan was to create a single post as it is one task at the end but I soon realized that I am having around 70 images used for illustration purposes without writing any single word.
Imagine waking up one day and logging on to your WordPress website for writing a new post where you find a new WordPress,plugins or themes updates, you click on the update button and all of the sudden you get everything messed up.
This issue happened to me so many times and so I decided to create this post as a series of posts to cover this topic of how to update WordPress safely in details (I will do my best here to make it as easy as possible) and you will able to update your WordPress site without any hassle.
I am going to provide you with step by step free guide on how to update WordPress safely but with the following assumptions.
- I am showing you here how to do everything for free but I highly recommend to at least invest in buying either UpdraftPlus, Duplicator or DesktopServer as the premium version of any one of these really helps a lot in saving your time by automating the processes.
- I am not showing you here how to test your local copy of your cloned WordPress site, I assume here you have enough knowledge on how to verify that for example all plugins’ functionalities are working fine, widgets are all in place and your current theme is not affected.
- I am assuming that you are testing your cloned WordPress copy on your local PC on all browsers, don’t blame me for browsers incompatibilities as sometimes this happened before to have your WordPress layout inconsistent between different browsers and you will not notice this as you are testing on one single browser and not on all the others.
- I am assuming that even testing all browsers successfully will not help you to detect any issues on mobile devices (assuming your are using responsive theme design) as you will not be able to test on mobile devices as your are hosting a local copy of your cloned WordPress site on PC, again don’t blame me on that. (hint: if you really want to cover this area of testing then you can invest in another domain name for testing and have all your testing carried on your web hosting and remember to remove your testing WordPress website from Google indexing).
If you are OK with all my above assumptions then in this post and the next following posts, I will discuss the following topics
- Introduction to WordPress updates
- Minor release vs Major release
- Upload your backup to Google drive using UpdraftPlus plugin (optional, I always do it)
- Cloning an exact copy of your WordPress website to your local PC
- Installing the new WordPress core, plugins and themes updates on your local PC
- Testing and applying the new WordPress core, plugins and themes updates on your WordPress site (assuming everything went well and no issues were found on your local cloned WordPress copy running on your PC)
Introduction to WordPress updates
WordPress usually gets a new release every 120 days which means 4 times a year, if they are planning to make an exception then they will announce
it, due to the fact that most WordPress developers are volunteers and few of them are getting paid by Automattic (the company behind WordPress.com), they work continuously to improve the WordPress and to bring to you new features.
Then why we have to update our WordPress sites, well we have 3 reasons to consider
- Security: When new WordPress version comes, older versions are not longer supported and are susceptible to malicious attacks
- New features: WordPress team is always working on adding new features and usually they come in major releases (I will discuss it below)
- Plugins and themes: Most of WordPress plugins and themes are developed by developers in WordPress community so they have to update their code to comply with the new WordPress releases
Minor release vs Major release
Minor release (as knows as point release) always increments the number version by one decimal or two e.g. from 3.0 to 3.0.1 so you don’t need to worry about this release as it is most probably released to fix a minor bug or to clean up a source code.
Major release jumps a whole number when adding new features, e.g. from 2.9.2 to 3.0, this is a sign of new features added to the release and that is what you need to properly test to make sure you can proceed with the new major WordPress updates.
Upload your backup to Google drive using UpDraftPlus plugin
Assuming you know how to install plugins on your WordPress site, go ahead and install UpdraftPlus plugin then go to Settings on your left hand side menu and select UpdraftPlus Backups, under the UpdraftPlus Backup/Restore page on the first line with tiny font you will see a hyperlink notice that says
WordPress makes it drop-dead easy to start a site. Take my advice and go do it. (John Battelle) Click To Tweet UpdraftPlus notice: Follow this link to authorize access to your Google Drive account (you will not be able to backup to Google Drive without it)
Log on to your Google account, I suggest to create a new account with your site name e.g. [email protected] to start using 15 GB under Google Drive
After you create your Google account (or use your existing account if you would like), UpdraftPlus plugin will ask you to allow the installed plugins to access your Google account, click on Allow button as shown below
A confirmation screen will be displayed indicating that Google authorization is in place, click now on the Complete setup button as shown below
Now you can click on the blue Backup Now button, no other settings are required.
All these checkboxes listed below are checked for you by default, don’t change anything, just click on Backup Now button
A progress bar will show up indicating the percentage of completion, just wait for a while
Now switch to your Google Drive account to verify that all the 5 files are completed backup successfully
To recap, I discussed above the following topics
- Introduction to WordPress updates where I discussed when WordPress works on new releases or updates and why WordPress developers create these releases/updates.
- Minor release vs Major release I listed the difference between a minor vs major releases.
- Upload your backup to Google drive using UpdraftPlus plugin I discussed how to use UpdraftPlus plugin to create a backup and upload it to Google drive
On the next post, I will discuss Part I of the step by step free guide on how to update WordPress safely
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