How To Update Your Site


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

But how do you test an update without potentially causing issues? Let’s cover a few of the common ways!

Backup ↑ Back to top

Any store powered by WordPress and WooCommerce has two places where your data and content are stored. One is your wp-content folder, where your themes, plugins, and any uploaded content is located. Second is the database that organizes and stores your products, orders, posts, pages, etc.

So with your precious data and content stored in different places, how should you safeguard it and keep it backed up?

Automatic backups ↑ Back to top

The most efficient and reliable approach is to use an automated site backup service for which we recommend Jetpack. Besides not having to rely onmemory and manual procedures, you instantly benefit from:

  • Unlimited storage space.
  • Automated, regular backups of your entire site including database, content, media, plugins, themes, and settings.
  • Instant restore service so that if something goes wrong you revert to an older version with one click.
  • Direct access to 24/7 expert support.

Manual backups ↑ Back to top

If you wanted to do things manually, there are two parts to backing up your store.

  1. Go to Tools > Export – to export all of your site content. This contains all of your posts, pages, comments, etc. in a XML file.
  2. To back up your theme files and plugin files, log into your site via FTP to find your files in the wp-content  folder. We strongly recommend making a backup of your theme files if you made any customizations.

Learn more ↑ Back to top

We provide expert priority support for Jetpack customers but not third-party plugins.
Nonetheless, the two key points here are:

  1. Backup both your database and your site files constantly.
  2. Test your backups regularly.

Testing ↑ Back to top

Speaking of testing, let’s cover how to keep your site making money bug free and updated with the latest and greatest features. Just fair warning, this can start to sound complex and technical. If any of this sounds daunting we’d always recommend working with a developer ready to handle these tasks for you. Our WooExperts are standing by.

Terms To Know

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

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

Let’s then jump in! 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 as well.

Local ↑ Back to top

Most of those developing professionally will start their projects on a local install. Meaning they’ve got WordPress setup on their computer, and their computer acts like a server hosting their local site(s). Using your favorite code editor you can then build, update, and test updates on your own computer.

As a sidenote while working on a local install we highly recommend using some sort of version control, whether that is Git or SVN, etc… it’s definitely best to use version control for your projects, and can even make deploying a site to staging and production easier.

Staging ↑ Back to top

Let’s say in most cases you’re skipping your local site as you only need to test an update. The simplest way to get this running is to create a second WordPress install with your host and restore a backup of your live site to it. As mentioned VaultPress can do this for you, and many WordPress hosts offer tools to setup a staging environment

With this ready you can test and updates on a server setup just like the one that is running your live site. You can also share the staging site with others to let them help test. You can also test on more devices, test load time, and more.

Live ↑ Back to top

If all has gone well on staging you are ready to update your live site. You can do this however you prefer or have setup with a developer. Some developers may have Git setup to deploy from your master branch, or you yourself can click the update button knowing you’ve tested these updates and it’s safe for your live site.

Of course, should anything go awry for whatever reasons your backups are there to restore in an instant. That way your site doesn’t remain down costing you money while you scramble to figure out what happened.

And that is essentially the best setup to have, especially if your site is earning money and can’t suffer from any down time. Figure out what tools and strategies work best for you and your team or developer, and set a good testing process in place.

If you put the time upfront into testing any updates, you’ll save yourself headache and money in the end guaranteed!

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