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Help With WordPress Updates/Upgrades

Professional WordPress Upgrades and Testing for a Website That Runs Smoothly

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Cost of Owning a WordPress Website

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.

Don't Forget Plugins

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.

Manually Upgrade Needed for Major Versions

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.

Why Get a Pro?

There are lots of reasons to get professional help doing WordPress upgrades. The main reason is, you don't know what will happen.

Some examples:

  • a plugin could break or be depreciated and another might need to be found
  • the site could not load
  • the upgrade might not complete, leaving the website in an unstable state
  • the theme could break
  • you might not have the right version of PHP installed
  • forms could stop working
  • the CSS (style sheets) might have issues
  • the JS (JavaScript) from one plugin might clash with another plugin and create problems
  • your website might not look right with certain web browsers
  • the website could start running too slow
  • a slide show could break or stop working
  • your shopping cart might stop functioning and taking orders
  • (or anything else)

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.

Again... you just don't know what might happen.

Upgrade, Test, Fix, Test Again

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.

Yes, we have to charge for this testing time but that's how we find things that need to be fixed. With all you've invested in your website (time, money, resources), why chance it?

How Many WordPress Upgrades are There Per Year?

Ah, the big question... how much will this cost?

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.


WordPress Release History (2013 - Present)

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...

2013 WordPress Updates (6) (12 Maintenance Blocks)

  • 25 January 2013 - WordPress 3.5.1 Released
  • 21 June 2013 - WordPress 3.5.2 Released
  • 01 August 2013 - WordPress 3.6 Released
  • 11 September 2013 - WordPress 3.6.1 Released
  • 25 October 2013 - WordPress 3.7 Released
  • 30 October 2013 - WordPress 3.7.1 Released (no charge)*
  • 12 December 2013 - WordPress 3.8 Released

2014 WordPress Updates (9) (18 Maintenance Blocks)

2015 WordPress Updates (8) (16 Maintenance Blocks)

2016 WordPress Updates (8) (16 Maintenance Blocks)

2017 WordPress Updates (11) (22 Maintenance Blocks)

2018 WordPress Updates (10) (20 Maintenance Blocks)

2019 WordPress Updates (8) (16 Maintenance Blocks)

* 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 important plugin or theme updates. We do charge for these but they are not official WordPress core software updates.

WordPress Cost of Maintenance

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):

  • 2013 (6 updates / 12 blocks): $562.56
  • 2014 (9 updates / 18 blocks): $843.84
  • 2015 (8 updates / 16 blocks): $750.08
  • 2016 (8 updates / 16 blocks): $750.08
  • 2017 (11 updates / 22 blocks): $1,031.36
  • 2018 (10 updates / 20 blocks): $937.50
  • 2019 (9 update / 18 blocks): $843.75

On average, you're looking at around $750 per year to keep WordPress up to date (that's about $94 per update).

Save Money on Professional WordPress Upgrades

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.

Cost of Ownership for a WordPress Website

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.

Conclusion

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!

-Tony

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