How To Update WooCommerce

Updates to WooCommerce, Storefront, WordPress, and your extensions and payment gateways are a fact of life. Our team of developers is hard at work releasing updates that add new features, fix issues, tighten security and, in general, make your store better than ever.

But how do you update WooCommerce without causing issues? We’ll cover a few of the common ways below, but first …

Backups ↑ Back to top

Any store powered by WordPress and WooCommerce has two places where data and content are stored.

  • One is your wp-content folder, where your themes, plugins, and any uploaded content is located.
  • Another is the database that organizes and stores your products, orders, posts, pages, etc.

With this precious data and content stored in different places, how do you safeguard it all and keep it backed up?

Note: Reverting a faulty update folder to a previous version is a lot easier than doing this for the database. When you do this for the database, it means that all of your settings, products, orders, etc. will go back to that point in time. Any changes you’ve made since then will be lost.

Automatic backups ↑ Back to top

The most efficient and reliable approach is to use an automated site backup service. If you’re interested in this, we recommend Jetpack. Besides not having to do anything manually, you benefit from:

  • Unlimited storage space
  • Automated, regular backups of your entire site including your database, all content, plugins & themes, settings, and more
  • Instant restores so you can revert to a previous version with one click
  • Direct access to 24/7 expert support

Manual backups ↑ Back to top

To do things manually, there are two parts to backing up your store:

  1. Backup your database! There are multiple ways to do this, see the Codex for your options to back up your content. Both manual and plugin options exist.
  2. Using SFTP head to your wp-content folder to backup your theme and plugin files. We strongly recommend making a backup of your theme files if you made any customizations.

Testing Updates ↑ Back to top

Now, let’s talk about keeping your site updated and making you money with the latest and greatest features. Just fair warning, this can sound technical and complex but don’t let it get to you!

Working with a developer who is trained to handle these tasks for you is also an option. We highly recommend seeking assistance from Codeable, or a Certified WooExpert.

Terms to Know

First, let’s review a few terms we’ll be using. Some may use other terms like a dev environment, testing environment, and live environments, but we’ll stick to the basic three:

  • Local – is on a personal computer, generally not accessible from the web.
  • Staging – is where you test updates. Should replicate the same server setup as the live site.
  • Production – is the live site. Where customers and users are visiting and purchasing.

Keep in mind this is a simplistic overview, and there are many tools and ways to do this. There aren’t absolutes in how you test updates, just as long as you do not test them on a live site. If you have a developer working on your site, ask them about their process for testing updates.

What to test ↑ Back to top

Whether you’re testing on local or staging, there are a few things to look out for.

  • Updating. The first thing to do is to update your site. This doesn’t just imply updating to the latest version of WooCommerce, WordPress, and other plugins, it might also require a database update. As mentioned above, a database update is more challenging to revert, so definitely test updating this as well if the new version of WooCommerce prompts you to. Did everything go smoothly? Awesome, time for the next test.
  • Customer’s journey. Next, it’s also a good practice to go through the whole customer journey on your site. Browse your store as a guest, add products to the cart and complete the checkout process. Afterward, also manage the orders as you normally would. Is everything looking good? Great!
  • Compatibility. Finally, you may have a theme or some other extensions/plugins that add important functionality to your store. Check some of the spots where those would potentially conflict with WooCommerce and see if everything still runs fine. For example, if you’ve got an extension that changes the checkout look, go to your checkout page and make sure everything runs as expected.

A final comment, if you’re updating WooCommerce core, go check out the WooCommerce development blog. This will have a post indicating what the most important changes are — those are the things to look out for — and might also have a post with testing instructions.

Local ↑ Back to top

Most developers will start with a local install. This means that WordPress is set up on their computer and it acts as a server. Using a preferred code editor, one can then build, update, and test updates on their own computer.

While working on a local install we highly recommend you start using version control if you aren’t. Whether that is Git, SVN, or something else it comes in handy in case you need to revert back to something that works, and can even make it easier to deploy a site to staging and production.

Staging ↑ Back to top

To test an update beyond a local site, it’s best to create a second WordPress install with your host and restore a backup of your live site to it. VaultPress can do this for you, and WordPress hosts often offer tools to set up a staging environment.

This is a replica of your production site and a safe place to test updates. A staging site can also be shared with others for their help testing. Makes sure to test on different devices, load time, and so on.

Production ↑ Back to top

Should all go well during staging tests, then you are ready to update your live (production) site.

You can do this however you prefer or arrange with your developer(s). One note: Put your site in maintenance mode to prevent people from checking out or making payments. If a transaction occurs during the update, orders may be lost.

To update, some have Git set up to deploy from a master branch, or you yourself can click the Update button knowing you tested these updates and it’s safe for your site. Of course, your backups are on standby to restore in an instant if anything unexpected occurs. That way there’s no downtime or revenue lost.

From here, figure out what tools and strategies work best for you and your team or developer(s), and put a good testing process in place. If you put the time upfront into testing updates, you save yourself both headaches and money in the end. Guaranteed!

Updating Extensions and Payment Gateways ↑ Back to top

From ↑ Back to top

To get updates on anything purchased from, go to WooCommerce > Extensions > Subscriptions and ensure that your store is connected to your account. More at: Managing subscriptions.

Connecting your account to your WooCommerce site/store allows you to:

  • View status of WooCommerce, plus your extensions and payment gateways
  • Filter by Installed, Activated, Download, and Update Available
  • Determine which extensions and payment gateways have compatibility with what version/release of WooCommerce

For example: In the Plugin and Tested up to WooCommerce version columns, respectively, it shows that WooCommerce PayPal Checkout Gateway is known to be compatible up to WooCommerce 3.9. If you have WooCommerce 3.9.1+ installed, take caution and test on a Staging (not live) site as instructed above in Testing Updates.

From Third-party Developers ↑ Back to top

Plugins, extensions, payment gateways and themes not developed and maintained by our in-house WooCommerce team are from third-party developers.

Third-party developers looking to add version check to their product can see: Adding Version Check Support to Your Plugin.

Store/site owners must contact the third-party developer directly for support on updates and compatibility.

WooCommerce Database Update Notice ↑ Back to top

A WooCommerce Database Update notice will display when you have upgraded/updated to a new version of WooCommerce and a database update is needed:

  • Update WooCommerce Database starts the process of updating your database to match the plugin version you installed or updated to. The database organizes, contains, and stores your products, orders, posts, and pages. It is an essential process.
  • Learn more about updates will take you to this page to explain best practices pertaining to updating WooCommerce, extensions, and payment gateways, plus info on what is updated and in what order.

Ensure you have a backup in place and click the “Update WooCommerce Database” button. The update process will start:

  • View progress will take you to the Scheduled Actions section and show the Pending actions for the update

Once it is completed, the next time you view an admin page you will see the dismissable update complete banner:

FAQs ↑ Back to top

Q: I can’t see the database update button and the WooCommerce System Status Report shows the WooCommerce database is behind the plugin version. How do I update? ↑ Back to top

A: From WooCommerce 4.0+, find the update notice by clicking the Notices button at the top right corner on any WooCommerce admin page.

Alternatively, navigate to the main WordPress Dashboard page.

Learn more ↑ Back to top


Do you still have questions and need assistance? 

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