WP Engine Introduces WordPress Core Update Deferral Option – 2015 Recap

WP Engine Introduced WordPress Core Update Deferral Option – 2015 Recap

This post is part of a series focussing on the main changes and improvements made at WP Engine throughout 2015.

Another development that WP Engine introduced in April 2015 was the option to defer WordPress core updates; this offering was made available to WP Engine customers just as WordPress 4.2 was released. WP Engine brought in the option so that their clients could gain more control over the timing of when the updates happened.

WP Engine realizes that WordPress is always evolving, and so they try to make their platform as secure as possible. They aim to provide the experience of updating WordPress, as this remains essential for maintaining successful WordPress sites and also make this experience as quick and easy as possible.

WP said in their blog post on the subject:

“Our time priority is the stability, security, and functionality of your sites, and we want to give you time to test the new version against your current configuration. In accordance to our WordPress Update policy for non-security releases, we begin updating our customers’ sites two weeks after a core release.”

About WP Engine Automatic WordPress Core Updates

WP Engine has always had a policy of dealing with WordPress core updates: they have a system that will send out two notices before the process starts. The first notice will be sent seven days before the WordPress install being updated.  As a final warning, the second notice is sent four hours before the update begins.

This means that customers can see if they need time to prepare their websites for the next version of WordPress, they can request a deferral for up to 60 days. However, customers should note that they are only able to defer major releases of WordPress core (i.e., 4.0 to 4.1, rather than 4.11 to 4.12).

Why delay WordPress Updates?

There are a variety of reasons why someone might choose to delay an upgrade to WordPress core:

  • Testing – Some developers like to test any updates thoroughly before them going live on the production server
  • Conflicts – Some themes or plugins may cause conflicts with new versions of WordPress, and a short delay can give time for these bugs to be fixed
  • Bugs – A new version of WordPress may contain bugs although new releases are well tested before release, so this is rare.

It can, therefore, be advisable to wait a few days or weeks to judge the reaction of other users of WordPress. If it only a minor update, then most of the time it is fine to upgrade when the update becomes available.  Minor updates tend to contain small security \ bug fixes rather than new functionality so are upgraded by WordPress by default, although you can disable this should you want to.

Why you should always Update WordPress

Any delay in updating WordPress should always be kept to a minimum, and we would always recommend keeping your WordPress install upgraded to the latest version.  There are several reasons for this:

  • Security – With hackers constantly coming up with new ideas to compromise websites the WordPress team continuously releases fixes for vulnerabilities.
  • Performance – The WordPress team continually roll out improvements that make it faster and more efficient.
  • Features – Core upgrades often come with many new features and functionality.  Upgrading makes these available.
  • User Experience – Many WordPress core upgrades include updates making it easier to use.
  • Future-proofing – For future changes and additions to your site (i.e. new plugins) you will often need the latest version of WordPress.

Some managed WordPress hosting providers force WordPress Updates on their users sites.  The new WP Engine option to defer upgrades offers customers more control over their plugins and upgrades.

Deferring an Upgrade for an Install

Now, deferring an upgrade is simple: customers log into their WP Engine User Portal and visit the install overview page for the install that they would like to defer. They will then see the WordPress core box on the right; this contains information about which version of WordPress the customer is using. This will also tell the client how up to date their WordPress version is and exactly how they can upgrade it if they want to.

They will also see their checkbox that will allow them to put their install into deferred upgrade mode, as is seen here in the picture below.


How Deferred Upgrade Mode Works

If a customer selects the delayed upgrade option, WP Engine will not upgrade their install in their first round of the WordPress core updates. This gives a customer 60 extra days to make sure that their site is ready for the upgrades, allowing them time to test their website against the new version of WordPress and make sure everything is working correctly. The customer will get a second notice seven days before WP Engine attempts to upgrade their deferred install.

Although there is a 60 day period of delay, the users can change this if necessary. If they are ready to action the upgrade before the 60 day period has passed, a customer can contact the WP Engine Support Team, and they will upgrade the site using their Automatic Core Upgrade process.

On their blog post, WP Engine also said:

“We hope you enjoy using this feature which gives you, even more, control of your WordPress core updates, while still allowing you to leverage WP Engine’s Automatic Upgrade process. We hope this feature makes updating WordPress as easy and trouble free as possible.”

This development was another step in 2015 which shows WP Engine making its services more personal and customizable for its customers. It also shows that they recognize the problems and administration that can come from automatically upgrading their WordPress websites.

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