Sometimes when it comes to tasks such as site maintenance, it feels easier to go the fast route by applying automatic updates to your website. If it’s a WordPress installation, many of these updates are set to run automatically from the get-go; that’s how they’re set up. Several of these updates are beneficial in that they boost your site’s security, which you want to have.

We say that auto updates are not always a smart way to go about maintaining your site, however. Often we’ve heard stories from business owners who use WordPress and then discover a white screen where their site should be! And this is not something you want to discover the next morning after a day of a broken site has passed.

This white screen of death can happen for a few reasons, but one of the most frequent ones is the use of automatic updates to a site. Here are some reasons why updates should be performed manually rather than automatically.

Who deals with fixing it once it happens?  How recent are your backups?  Who pays to fix the site and who, for that matter, even knows how to?!   We have answers to these questions so that you can relax and run your business and let someone who knows what they are doing look after the website. 

1: Incompatibility between plugins and software

Just because it worked before, doesn’t mean it will keep working.  Changes to software that runs the server as well as version changes to WordPress can cause compatibility issues for plugins and other software related to your website.  An update can break the site so a new solution may be needed or the update may have to be deferred.

Don’t get us wrong, updates to plugins are very necessary; like we said, they will improve your site’s security and ensure the software supporting them is up to date too. However, if the software supporting these plugins becomes incompatible, that’s where the white screen of death scenario can occur. So be sure both are updated—just not automatically.

2: Customizations were made

Any customizations made to the core of the WordPress site you’re using for your business can be removed if automatic updates are set up. This is not desirable because those customizations may be something that’s helping your site function better. However, when automatic updates occur, they will erase and override all custom changes applied to the core. This means all of the hard custom work you asked your designer to go through will have to be done again, making for a frustrating day all around! There are ways that designers can get around this issue but not all of them know how to do this properly or have the experience to develop a site that is ready to updated correctly.

3: The designer has a different idea from yours

By this we mean a designer may have their own agenda in terms of how to run your website than you do. Not every designer does this, but there are many out there who do: they set up their updates to be automatically done, and then walk away and let the business owner handle the maintenance and content updates, all without realizing or understanding that there are pitfalls and potential issues that can crop up along the way. Features and functions can break, for one; displays cannot show up properly for another.  

Granted, this is a better solution that so many website owners that had a designer create and install their site and never explained that updates were needed on a regular basis.  

This is why we strongly suggest you hire us to design, install, host, and maintain your website, because our designers do not walk away from a task left undone. One thing you can expect us not to do if we maintain your site is to update it beyond the compatibility of its theme and plugins, which is what results in a site breaking.

4: Glitches Happen (Yes, They Can)

With new updates comes new responsibility…and that happened to several people when WordPress rolled out the latest version of 5.0 with the new Gutenberg editor. If your theme wasn’t ready for it, content suddenly disappeared. 

One glitch in question occurred whenever a new post was being added to the Post section of a WordPress site. New content would be added, but there was something strange: the URL of a previous post you’d published was still there. Once the publish button was clicked on, the new post was there, sure, but the older content that had been posted before was gone!

This was not the only glitch to occur; these very confused users all have something to say regarding WordPress’s latest features. It all happened because their sites were updated automatically to the latest theme when, in actuality, a lot of people were not ready for it.

It proves a point to what we’ve been saying: automatic updates, especially the kind you’re not ready for, can create new problems. Had these people been able to manually change the theme to the more updated version, they could have easily avoided such a strange glitch in the first place. While strange, it’s not the worst thing to happen, but it is very annoying.

So, there you have it. Want to avoid the hassle that automatic updates can bring? Hire us at V3 to manage all of the aspects of updates, hosting, and securing your website for an affordable price.  Better still, let us build you a great up-to-date site with excellent maintenance services with manual updates to your site rather than automatic. That way you can avoid severe headaches in the near future such as discovering the white screen of death! If you want to learn more about WordPress and your site, or how else we can help you in terms of site maintenance, talk to us in a one-on-one consultation. We’d prefer you ask us a lot of questions than none at all, especially where your site is concerned!