A warm Happy New Year to everyone, I hope this finds you safe and well and you have all enjoyed the holiday season. It goes without saying that 2020 was a challenging year in many ways, but this warm weather certainly helps build optimism for 2021!
While we’re still running at holiday-level support for a while, we’re always here and updates, backups and more all continue as usual.
And so, here’s the latest updates and important information for January 2021!
WordPress 5.6 Released
Back on December 8, WordPress 5.6 was released. This is an exciting release, with lots of great updates for site managers and developers. You can read more details about changes in the WordPress 5.6 Field Guide.
As per our update policy, we wait until the first point release (in this case: 5.6.1) before we start rolling out WP core updates to our customers, but some customers do like to update early. For sometime now, we’ve considered this update schedule to be far from ideal – mid-December – when websites and online shops are busiest – is not the time we want to be rolling out major WordPress core updates. However, we must play the hand we are dealt.
As with 5.5, there are a few “gotchas” with 5.6 that may break sites running older themes and plugins. Mainly this is due to further changes with the jQuery libraries and the jQuery Migrate Helper plugin that was released after WordPress 5.5.
If you are keen to update early, always backup using the Plesk Backup Manager first, run the update, test your site, and if it all checks out OK, remove the backup.
Just open a support ticket if you need any assistance.
The Future of WordPress Updates
For many years now, WordPress has been set by default to install minor updates automatically. This means that if your WordPress site is running version 5.5.1 and 5.5.2 is released, the auto-update function will run (usually within 24 hours) and install the update. This only applies to updates where the minor version number changes. Minor releases often contain security and bug fixes, but rarely include any other significant or “breaking changes”. This makes them more stable and safer to install by an automated process.
This auto-update functionality has contributed enormously to the overall security and stability of the WordPress platform. This is because security vulnerabilities and serious bugs that are identified in WordPress core can be patched and automatically deployed to millions of websites within a matter of days.
With the release of 5.6, the auto-update feature is taking the next step: adding the ability to install major release updates automatically as well. While this has been possible for sometime by using some custom PHP code or a plugin, the option will now be available directly in the WordPress Dashboard UI.
Note: There are many WordPress API functions you can use to customise the auto-update behaviour to suit your needs.
WordPress is Ch-ch-ch Changing
Like any good software, WordPress is evolving and improving. Over the last several years the auto-update feature (and the remote service that delivers the millions of downloads per year) has been developed and battle-tested.
We now arrive at WordPress 5.6, where major release updates are now set to install automatically. It is important to note that this only applies to fresh installations of version 5.6. Updating an existing site to 5.6 will not change the auto-update behaviour. Of course, you can easily change it on the WordPress Updates page in the Dashboard.
Here at WP NET, we are excited to see the WordPress update ecosystem evolve and improve, and we look forward to the new possibilities this brings.
In the near future we will be reviewing our MWP hosting plans to be sure that the services and support we provide fit well with this new era of WordPress. We don’t anticipate any big changes at this stage, but it’s important that our hosting and support products continue to provide useful, cost-effective services to our kiwi customers. We’ll keep you posted!
Thanks for reading! Until next time.