Is it Worth Blocking Auto-Updates?

Is it Worth Blocking Auto-Updates?

On the surface, auto-update seems like a pretty handy feature to have on your website. You don’t have to worry about manually updating the themes and plugins. The WordPress system will take care of it on its own. While that sounds like a good proposition, you will inevitably run into some issues with auto-update. For some WordPress website owners, auto-update turns out to be a nightmare. In this article, we explain how you should consider turning off auto-updates.

How do Auto-updates Work?

First, let’s learn how the auto-updates work behind the scene. The WordPress system uses WP-cron job for running scheduled tasks, one of which is checking for updates. These cron jobs check a list of scheduled tasks that needs to be run on every page load. The tasks that will be due will be called when the page loads.

The WordPress system uses cron jobs to check for updates at least twice everyday. If there are updates available for any of the installed themes/plugins, the system will automatically download and install those updates. This is done irrespective of whether the update is a minor bug fix or a big release.

There are many advantages to auto-updates. Like your website will always be up-to-date with latest security patches. It will make your website less vulnerable. Auto-updates also make it easier to maintain your website. Maintenance is almost on auto-pilot.

Problems with Auto-update

That being said, there are issues with auto-updates as well. Especially with large websites that use multiple plugins to run critical functions like generate leads. Since the auto-updates have minimal human intervention, there’s little room for supervision or preparedness. If multiple updates happen at once, it can overload the server and hence crash your website. There’s also increased risk of vulnerability since newer versions bring with them bugs and loopholes. Until there’s a patch for these bugs, your website stays vulnerable to attacks. There’s also a chance that the plugins may become incompatible with each other. For big websites, it becomes a maintenance nightmare. For them, it’s better to disable the auto-update feature and take control of the process. Only update those themes/plugins that have gotten outdated.

Disabling Auto-update Feature

You can easily disable the auto-update feature in WordPress by using a plugin like ‘Easy Updates Manager Plugin’. It disables auto-update at the core level and allows you manage the updates. To start using the plugin, install and activate it. Then go into Dashboard > Updates Options. Here, you can configure the settings and manage the updates. You can disable all updates but it’s not recommended since it may prevent all notifications from appearing -- even the important ones.

If you don’t want to use a plugin, then you can disable auto-updates by editing the wp-config.php file. Open the file and add the following lines in it:

define( 'WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE', false );
It will disable all WordPress updates.

If you want to keep the minor core updates enabled, then edit the functions.php file instead. Add the following lines:

add_filter( 'auto_update_plugin', '__return_false' );
So that’s how you deal with disable auto-updates in WordPress. First evaluate if it’s something you should do and proceed with the steps mentioned above.
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