Can I update my WordPress website myself?

Can I update my WordPress website myself

Pressing go on updates for your website is the easy part.What’s a little more tricky, is fixing things if the updates don’t play nicely.

Hopefully, you’ve read and understood that your WordPress website needs to be maintained, and that means applying regular updates to WordPress, its plugins and themes.

If you didn’t know this then, read ‘What updating a WordPress website really means’ – pronto.

If things go wrong, the errors you might expect can range from your page styling taking on a mind of its own, right through to a 404 error or even complete lockout from your website.

8½ times out of 10 (I just made that statistic up) things will go tickety-boo, but occasionally that sinking feeling that you’ve just flat-lined your entire life’s work can cause the most unflappable to flap!

So let’s look at the options available to you as the owner of a website, and review the pros and cons of each. In all fairness, updates aren’t difficult – unless (until) they go wrong.

Option one

Fully automatic

Set all updates to automatic so that you don’t have to do anything.


Updates happen as soon as they are available, automatically and without any manual effort.

 For major releases, it’s often best to wait a short time following a new release so that bugs can be identified and dependent plugins or code have time to catch up with code changes.

Doesn’t require you to remember to check for updates or carry the risk of you forgetting.

 You may not notice that an update at worst crashes your website rendering it inaccessible to visitors, or at best, messes with your sites format.

Works well for minor updates which don’t usually carry so much risk of impacting other plugins or code.

 There’s a small risk of not having a good backup to get your website back online quickly but this can be avoided by having a good automated back up schedule.

 Least expensive option (when updates go smoothly).

 You may still need someone to carry out troubleshooting and remedial work if things do go wrong.

 Highest risk option for your website.

Option two

semi automatic

Set your website to only allow minor releases to automatically update and update the major updates manually.

Create a personalised schedule of updates for your website. Mix and match professional services with your automated maintenance updates. You could consider a quarterly or bi-annual ‘professional’ update with automated or DIY updates in between.


This reduces the risk of high impact things going wrong, and if they do, there’s no guarantees, but it’s often a smaller issue to resolve.

Things can still go wrong and we never know what that will look like until - ‘we know what it looks like!’

 This is a happy medium to enable some automation and manually checking for major releases before deciding to update.

You’ll still need a plan for the major updates and troubleshooting if things do go wrong.

 This option keeps costs down whilst having someone keep an eye on your website to maintain it’s functionality and performance.

There are no guarantees that major updates will coordinate with using your developer. Either way, you should keep an eye on your website to quickly spot any format changes or broken or missing pages.

You may still need someone to carry out troubleshooting and remedial work if things do go wrong.

Option three

Bring in the professionals

Outsource the maintenance of your website to a professional.


Updates are made in a controlled manner to minimise risk to your website.

Most expensive option

Professionals are more likely to understand what went wrong and how to reverse the changes that caused the error

Your developer will be experienced in troubleshooting and finding solutions to errors. This is important as the errors will be as new as the update itself so there is less content on the internet to offer solutions.

Lowest risk option for your website

Which path will you take?

DIY or don't even try?

If you would like to give it a go updating your own WordPress website, follow my step-by-step guide with useful hints and tips. This guide can be downloaded and has step-by-step screenshots to show you what to do

If you’re still not quite confident doing this for yourself and would like my help to keep your site updated, take a look at the plans available and see what professional WordPress Maintenance can do for your website.

About Beknowin'

Hey, I’m Sam Wakefield aka Beknowin’, a Freelance WordPress Web Developer passionate about helping small businesses get the most out of their website investment by offering business mentoring as standard with every engagement.

Hailing from a corporate career in the IT industry, I’ve also grown several small businesses myself. I draw insight from my own and my customer’s industries and my experience in solving all manner of business challenges, to offer advice, guidance and support.

If you’d like to have an informal chat about your website needs, get in touch. I LOVE helping others to be the best they can.