Don’t Update Your Website Software

Don't Update Your Website Software

Key Points

If you see a software update prompt on your website, notify the website administrator
It’s dangerous to have a higher level of authority than you need. If you only need to post articles, you should not have authority to update software
Updating website software involves some degree of risk. Buggy or incompatible software can cause undesired results (i.e. website crash)
A website admin will take a website backup before updating software to ensure a path to recover from any problems during the update process
A website admin will test new software in a test environment first to ensure the update on the live website goes smoothly
For best results, have a website administrator update all software. He/she will take all necessary precautions.
What??! But I thought you always said I should update my website software to avoid problems with hackers and malware. What gives?

Well, that’s correct, you should update your website software… figuratively speaking, of course. When I say “You should update your software”, well, I don’t necessarily mean YOU, yourself, should do it. I mean you should ensure that it gets done… that someone does it.

Software Update Prompts

So why do I bring this up? Well, when you login to your site’s admin screen or dashboard, you may have seen messages telling you that updates are available and asking you to proceed to update your site. And technically, if you can see the prompts, you can perform the updates with just a few clicks. However, those messages are really meant for website administrators. And often, these messages are seen by other users, not just administrators. So if you aren’t the website administrator, it’s best to notify him/her about these messages.

Are You A Website Administrator?

Many website owners are set up with a login username on their site by someone else, maybe a web designer or an administrator did it for them. Many times, the owner is set up with a role that has more authority than he/she really needs… including the highest level, a super admin. This can be a very dangerous thing!

Do you know what your role is on the website? Do you just need to add new articles or posts once in a while? Or maybe you need to approve other users’ articles before publishing? Are you the website administrator who takes care of all the technical stuff? Do you really need to log in to the admin area / dashboard at all?

The point is, it’s important to know your role on your website, and your authority / access should reflect that role. For example, if you only need to post articles, you should not have authority to update software. The website administrator’s role is typically to install, update, remove and test software. They also will create website backups to ensure a way to recover from problems. If this doesn’t sound like what you normally do, then you probably shouldn’t be updating website software.

About Those Software Update Prompts…

Some examples:

WordPress update prompt:

WordPress update prompt

Joomla update prompt:

Joomla update prompt

If you log in to your website admin area/dashboard/control panel and see a message or button that says something like: “Update Now” or any prompt asking you to proceed to update software, PLEASE don’t proceed unless you’re the website administrator and know what’s about to happen and know the risks involved.

The Risks of Updating Your Software

Every website is a unique combination of many different pieces of software running simultaneously, in harmony. First, you have either WordPress or Joomla running, then you have anywhere from a few to many different plugins, extensions, themes, templates, etc. installed and running on your website that give it unique features, functionality and looks. These add-ons are all written by various developers from all over the world, some possibly well known, some unknown. You certainly don’t know if they have thoroughly tested their software OR what their coding skill level even is. Essentially, you have to trust that all these plugin developers have done a great job on their piece of software and thoroughly tested it for any bugs or security issues.

Not only is there concern with all the plugins, but there’s also a plethora of website system software running behind the scenes at your web host that is required for any website to run. And every different web host most likely has different combinations of system software creating their own unique environment. Add to that the idea of different versions of software that all need to be compatible with one another to run well.

If any of this software contains bugs or is not compatible with something else, then your website may just stop functioning altogether because of some problem somewhere in this complex mix.

So, with all this in mind, proceeding with a software update on your website can be a rather risky endeavor. You don’t really know if a new plugin update will work fine on your site, or bring it to a crashing halt. And if there’s multiple plugin updates available, well, you have to worry about this risk for each one!

The Recommended Solution

Unless you have substantial experience with updating website software, then just get a professional to handle your software updates. A true WordPress or Joomla website admin will take the necessary precautions, including taking a website backup and testing all software updates first on a test web server to ensure no issues crop up. This approach greatly reduces the chances of any unexpected outcomes when the updates are applied to your live website.

Tags: ,

Trackback from your site.

Leave a comment