How to automatically update WordPress plugins

Although you can have a WordPress site without a single plugin on the list, the chances are that you will have to install at least a few them. No matter how great of an expert are you, some features would just take too much of your precious time to develop from scratch. Since there are tens of thousands of plugins out there, sooner or later you will realize that you need some of them on the blog.

Even though plugins are just WordPress extensions and they can’t work outside the CMS, plugins act like software on its own. Each plugin is coded differently, has unique features and needs regular updates.

Developers should update WordPress plugins on a regular basis. Well, at least if they care about their product. Some updates will bring you new features, other will fix bugs and compatibility issues, while the most important thing is to patch known security holes. You wouldn’t like to have a plugin that allows intruders access to your site, wouldn’t you?

As time passes by, you might end up having dozens of plugins on your site, and you will have to update WordPress plugins on a regular basis. Some will have new updates a few times per month, and updating them manually may drive you crazy. If you have a short fuse, you might want to update WordPress plugins automatically.

Automatically update all WordPress plugins

To enable automatic updates for all of your WordPress plugins, you just need to tell that to your CMS. No, stop yelling at your computer screen; unfortunately, we’re still far away from having the technology that will completely understand us, so you need to change the communication channel and update the functions.php file instead. Even if you have no clue what the file is all about, you shouldn’t worry. Just to be sure that you’re covered, create a backup.

  1. Open functions.php file
  2. Copy and paste the following:
  3. add_filter( 'auto_update_plugin', '__return_true' );
  4. Save changes

In case you want to do the same for all the themes you have installed, you need another filter which looks practically the same:

add_filter( 'auto_update_theme', '__return_true' );

To learn more about this, please see how to configure automatic background updates in WordPress.

After saving the changes, WordPress will automatically update all plugins when there are new versions available for download. You don’t have to do a thing. Although this might sound practical, it might be dangerous to enable automatic updates for all of your plugins. Some may break your site completely, some will cause compatibility issues, and those plugins that you have customized will overwrite everything you’ve done. So, if you have those kinds of plugins that you don’t want to update automatically, you will be interested in enabling automatic updates only for specific plugins.

Select plugins that will get automatic updates

If you want only some of your plugins to update automatically, you should take another approach. Luckily, this time you won’t have to copy functions. You just need to install a plugin that will get your worries away.

Easy Updates Manager

PRICE: Free

With more than 100,000 active installs, this free plugin is the most popular choice when it comes to automatic WordPress updates. Easy Updates Manager gives you the complete control over WordPress updates, but we’re not going to talk about all the features in this article.

Easy Updates Manager

The interesting part is the feature that allows you to enable automatic updates for plugins and themes. The plugin is relatively straightforward, and it lets you select plugins and themes from the list. All you have to do is to choose which items should and which shouldn’t update automatically.

Automatic Plugin Updates

PRICE: Free

Although not as popular as the previously mentioned one, this plugin is as simple as is gets. After installing and activating it, all the plugins that you have on your WordPress blog will start to update automatically. Now, if you want to control that, go to Settings -> Automatic Plugin Updates.

Automatic Plugin Updates

On the settings page, you will see a list of all the extensions that you have. Just check the plugin that you don’t want to update automatically. That’s it!

Since you have just started to update WordPress plugins automatically, it is a good idea to let the plugin notify you about changes via email. So, in case something goes wrong, you can react in time.

How to get the old version back

In some cases, the updates will cause problems on your site. Until you get a chance to fix things or find another solution, you will probably want the old version back. Yes, that’s possible, and you can roll back to any version you want. We already showed you how to do that, so please see how to get the old version of a theme or a plugin back on your site.

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