WordPress: Proposal to Auto-Update Old Versions to 4.7

September 07, 2019 | More from , ,

There is a proposal on the table to automatically upgrade old versions of WordPress to 4.7. And many people are freaking out!

Although, if you read the notes at the top, this isn't just a “pull it like a band-aid” type of proposal.

This post contains a careful roll out plan. This would not be be a sudden and un-communicated change.
There will be options for site admins to opt-out of the update with clear instructions starting 30 days prior.
This would apply to small segments of each version sequentially, not all at once. This helps us check the updates in batches and limit the risk of breaking sites irrevocably.

There are many reasons that someone doesn't upgrade their website:

  • People just don't care or it's an old, abandoned project.
  • People are too busy to even notice.
  • People don't know to upgrade. They were never told.
  • It's a business with revenue coming from a website, they haven't upgraded in ages.. and the very thought of losing money in the process freezes all action.
  • Their website is so complex, who knows what will break..
  • If something does break, we can't afford to get someone to fix it!!

Maybe you fall into one of these categories.

So what about this proposal. Actually, I support it with one caveat. And that's people are given fair warning and ample tools to manage it. Which I have no doubt will happen.

Otherwise, I don't believe it's WordPress' responsibility if your website breaks from an update. It shouldn't be for a number of reasons. They are simply providing the product and updates/upgrades come with the package — in fact, that is a GREAT thing for security reasons… and to enjoy future improvements.

It's our responsibility. Yep, you and me.

If you're my client, it's my responsibility to educate you. And I will!

  • Have a plan to regularly back up your website.
  • Have a testing environment before updating your production website.
  • Have others help maintain your website if you don't have time.
  • Etc…

If you're a Do It Yourselfer, then it's your responsibility to learn about WordPress and the platform your website runs on.

No Excuses – Your Business

I'm going to get real with you here. And I probably will upset some people.

Over the years, I've seen numerous examples of negligence with people's tech and websites. I've seen people take what's under the hood for granted.

I'm not talking just small clients. I'm talking businesses running WordPress sites that bring in millions of dollars a year in revenue!

That's ridiculous!

But what happens is one of the bullets above. “It's a business with revenue coming from a website, they haven't upgraded in ages.. and the very thought of losing money in the process freezes all action.” Or they just make it a low, low priority in the company not knowing or caring about the future repercussions.

Year after year goes by. Maybe they bring in random developers to help them fix and patch.. but don't upgrade. “Don't do that. You might break something!”

And this fear grows as the complexity of the site grows, more plugins, more code, and more integrations come into play. It becomes a tangled, out of date mess.

To a point where it makes more sense to just build a new site.

But there should be no excuse for this. If it's my business, I'm going to understand the importance of keeping my infrastructure in shape; the importance of keeping WordPress up to date along with the theme and all the plugins.

OK, I'm Not Blaming You

I get it… people are busy. Businesses have a lot on their plates to worry about.

MARKETING needs this site up for that next promotion! We'll worry about all this later.. which never happens.

It's not your fault.

But, starting today, you will take responsibility for it right? Let this be your wakeup call! No more excuses. If not you, put someone at your company in charge of this!

What Should You Do?

If you can, talk to a professional. (if you have simple questions, totally feel free to ask questions or comment below in this post!.. we're here to help guide you!)

Otherwise, you'll need a plan.

#1 – A plan to get your site completely upgraded.

#2 – A plan to keep it that way.

If you are grossly out of date, you are going to need a really well researched and thought out plan. You can't just go into it willy nilly.

Let me give you one example.

I help manage a sizable WooCommerce website. It kind of falls into that category above. But that's ok! They just didn't have the right guidance in the past and they are learning. 🙂

It was given to me to upgrade WooCommerce and WooCommerce Subscriptions. Sounds easy right?

Not when they are on a version from 5 years ago, has been modified extensively over that time, has an integration with Angular, is hugely popular, has sizable revenue.. and, and…!!

With all those things weighing in, I had to do incremental upgrades on our staging site before reaching the latest version; upgrading WC and WC Subs side by side.. carefully.

There are reasons for this I won't get into here. But if you try to just update WC and WC Subs to the latest versions right away?.. site breaks. Big time.

It's things like this that need to be considered. And there are 1000s of plugins out there that may do better or worse.

Have a plan. If a lot is at stake, get help from a professional!

In Closing

Certainly the folks at WordPress have to be careful.. the last thing they want to do is break a large percentage of websites on the web. But I think this would be good for WordPress and the web as a whole.

Imagine all the exploits they would close.. security alone. Saving all those poor folks on shared servers from suffering from one grossly out of date WordPress site.

Imagine the effort that is now spent keeping all those old versions fixed.. if that could be put into other things!

Imagine more people enjoyed the newer experiences and features.

Imagine fewer businesses at risk.

And so on..

I support this effort if it's rolled out carefully.. but if it does/did nothing else, I hope it spreads the word that keeping your WordPress sites up to date should be given more priority.

If you want to discuss your situation with us or would like help maintaining your WordPress websites, please contact us today. We are here to help!

~Matt Levenhagen

Matt Levenhagen


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