WordPress update failed – what to do?

A problem which some of you might know pretty good. You have installed 20 plugins, some themes and then of course WordPress itself called core. It happens quite fast that a WordPress update can fail. If an admin does not visit the backend on a regular basis such as once a week and nobody takes care of the website maintenance it looks like that after a couple of weeks:
WordPress-Updates ausstehend
So what should you do if the WordPress update failed?

Pre-conditions

  1. No panic! You did not lose anything if the update has failed.
  2. Before you perform any changes or major updates such as updating WordPress itself, always make a backup of all files and the database. Save this backup on a different place than the website itself. Rule of thumb: A website is always just as good as the last backup of it!
  3. If the backup is created and you know how to use it in case, you can start with the updates via backend.

Performing updates

  1. Update WordPress itself first (the core) to the newest version which is also available at wordpress.org for download. If that succeeded you already made the first step. It it fails, I do recommend to disable all the plugins and then try again to perform the update. This action should help that it works properly. After this, you can activate each plugin again.
  2. Update your used theme to the most recent version. This should not be a problem either as long as the theme developer promises support for the newest WordPress version. In case this fails and you see error messages in the frontend of the website you might want to consider changing your theme.
  3. Now you can update your plugins as well. The more plugins you use, the more difficult is it to perform this step and the more time is required for it obviously. If a plugin is not compatible with the newest version of WordPress and/or your theme, try to search for another plugin with the same function. WordPress itself does offer more than 50’000 plugins. The rule here is: As many plugins as necessary, as few as possible.
  4. Congratulations – after the update has failed before everything should be fine now. The backend should not display any pending updates anymore which means that your website is up to date again – good job!

Plugin-Update verfügbar

How do I recognize if a plugin is “good”?

There are some tips which WordPress displays for each plugin that show you this information. First of all, it displays when the plugin has been updated for the last time by the plugin author. It this value is very recent (less than 2 months), this is a good sign. You will further see if the plugin is compatible with the newest version of WordPress according to the author. If it says 100% there as well, this is also a pro for the plugin. Last but not least it is worth it to check the reviews and ratings of the plugin to see what other people think about it. You can also see the amount of active installations there which also gives you another sign. Good ratings and a high number of installations definitely indicate that this plugin is trustworthy and you should be good to use it.

The Yoast SEO plugin

I take the SEO plugin from Yoast as an instance for a good plugin.
Yoast SEO-Plugin
Samples of plugins which are not really good are also quite easy to find. There is this one which has not been updated for a long time and will probably not be supported by the newest WordPress version either. It also has a little number of active installations:
Plugin nicht empfehlenswert

No time or nerves for it?

No problem! In case you still fight with updating WordPress or with some of the plugins or you do not want to invest any more time in it, contact me, so I can check your website in detail so we can find the best solution for you together.