Most website owners are really starting to understand the importance of keeping the software on their website current and up to date. Doing that helps to ensure that your website does not get compromised, that it runs fast/smoothly and that you get the latest features available. WordPress is great software that's free and Open Source but you do still have to keep it up to date and doing that will take some time and effort on someone's part.
This all goes into the cost of owning a website.
Along with keeping WordPress itself updated, you must also do the same with plugins. Plugins are extra software that can be added to WordPress to extend WordPress' functionality. They're nice because they're all contained withing WordPress and can use other features of the core software like users and logins. Updates to plugins don't always happen at the same time a new version of WordPress is released. They can come out at any time. It's best to stay on top of plugin updates on a weekly basis.
There's also usually a number of updates to plugins that happen right before and right after a WordPress release.
Besides just keeping up with updates, plugins can also be left alone without updates. The developers of these plugins might have lost interest in them or maybe they haven't had time to update them and keep them current. When they haven't been updated in a while (this may be anywhere from 6 months to 2 years), they may be considered to be abandoned. When that happens, there may be vulnerabilities in them that might not be reported. Abandoned plugins can be just as dangerous as plugins that have been reported to have known holes in them, When this happens, you must switch to using a plugin that is up to date.
We've already mentioned that WordPress does have the ability to upgrade itself but this is only with minor version releases, not major releases. These automatic upgrades to not, of course, include plugins.
There are lots of reasons to get professional help doing WordPress upgrades. The main reason is, you don't know what will happen.
WordPress is software that you can install on Windows servers or Linux servers. Each server environment is going to vary and be different. The combination of plugins being used on any website is also going to vary. The kinds of web browsers out there on mobile devices, desktop/laptop computers, gaming consoles or other devices will vary as well.
When we do your WordPress upgrade, we test your website. You want us to do this because we can fix it. If people visiting your website find things not working, they can't fix it, of course. They're probably going to leave your website and go to your competitor.
Honestly, we don't know. We cannot see the future, so we don't know how many upgrades WordPress may release in a year. We can, however, look at the past and use that as a guide.
I thought I'd keep this post up to date with a running list of WordPress updates (the official list is here - wordpress.org but it can be a little confusing), so here goes...
* Some updates were close together, so we counted them as one (if it's within 3-5 business days), we did them together and we didn't charge extra.
** Some updates are an important plugin or theme updates. We do charge for these but they are not official WordPress core software updates.
Each update takes our team 2-4 Maintenance Blocks (1-2 hours) to backup the website, install and test. While we do this, we also update plugins and themes for you.
At $46.88/block (the 12-pack rate), here is the cost of ownership for WordPress for each year - at just 2 blocks per update (conservative estimate):
Our Website Care program gives you all WordPress core software upgrades, plugin updates and theme updates for only $529 per year (that's less than $11 per week)! With the pricing we're showing here, which is just for the core updates... whenever they come out - not every week, going with Website Care is a complete no-brainer because you get everything updated every week - plugins, themes and the core WordPress software.
Here's an article I found stating the cost of ownership for a WordPress website:
The True Cost of WordPress Maintenance (efficientwp.com)
Option 2. Hire someone to do it all for you. Back up and upgrade your site but don’t do security. If your backups are done properly, you should be able to quickly recover your website in the event of a disaster. But you will likely lose any changes made since the last successful backup - posts, pages, comments, etc. Your site may be down or broken for days or weeks, depending on how quickly you can identify the problem after it appears, and how quickly you can get your developer to fix it.
Cost: Medium. Probably $50-100/month.
Time commitment: Low. You will contact your developer whenever something goes wrong.
Risk of hacking/downtime: Medium. However, it varies depending on your developer’s skill level, your priority as their customer, and your contract/retainer.
You could, of course, do this all yourself just like I could learn how to replace my engine header (which happened to me last winter and I had a shop do that expensive repair) but I'd rather take it to a professional instead because they know how to do it. I'm then free to run my business and do other things.
If you think about it, we all outsource lots of things. We buy food at the store, gas at the gas station, electricity from the electric company and cable/TV shows from the networks. We don't do these things ourselves. Having professionals upgrade your website software is no different, really. If you do it yourself, there's a great risk that you're going to miss something. People who do this work all the time know what to check and how to check it. You've invested significant time and money in your website and it's often the first impression of your company or organization. You want to provide the best user experience possible for your website visitors. It just makes sense to use a pro.
We don't know when WordPress security updates will come out and we have no control over that. When they come out, they should be applied. You're running software on your website and if you value it, you need to keep it up to date. Some hosts (like us) will require that you keep whatever software you have on your website up to date to protect the server and other websites on the server - you should be a good neighbor.
Your best solution to keeping up to date with WordPress updates is to use our Website Care program where we do it for you!