I am not too familiar with WP upgrades. How reliable is one-click auto update for upgrading from 3.5.2 to 3.9.1 or should I do a manual upgrade? I also need to upgrade all the plugins.

I am planning make a copy of the site in my localhost and do the upgrade there first before doing it on the production site. Is this a better approach or should I just go and upgrade the production site directly?

  • Go for the local update first, theme might break if you are not using a default one, otherwise it's stable
    – Kumar
    Jun 17, 2014 at 4:20
  • @sven, What if the plugins are not supported by the latest version? Is it then possible to upgrade to a lower version such as 3.9 or 3.8? Jun 17, 2014 at 5:40
  • No, you can't downgrade automatically (and you shouldn't). Drop plugins that doesn't support latest version of WP..
    – Sisir
    Jun 17, 2014 at 5:54
  • Easiest thing would be to check the list of plugins against their supported version, if you have some important plugin which do not supports latest wordpress than best option would be to find a alternative or ask plugin author to update.
    – Kumar
    Jun 17, 2014 at 7:48

4 Answers 4


Make a copy of the site in localhost, this will be better approch.

To upgrade site see Upgarding Wordpress - Extended Instructions


Make a copy of the site in localhost and do the upgrade there first before doing it on the production site is better approach and safer than go and upgrade on production site directly.

You have an old version of WordPress, manual upgrade to 3.9.1 is also safer than one-click auto update. You can control what to upgrade.

Note: backup your files and database before upgrade


A 3.x to 3.9 series should be a pretty safe change. The issues may be more related to the things you are not be telling us.

--Where is your theme located? If you took a standard theme, say twenty thirteen or twenty fourteen and brute force updated it without child theme, your site is guaranteed to break upon update. The update will overwrite those files and you will lose all of your customization. If you haven't done so, take 12 minutes to understand how easy it is to use a child theme.

--Wordpress core is pretty robust (relatively backwards compatible) for recent changes. What may not be so friendly are the plugins (and theme) you've got. Who knows how they will react?

--While not exactly related to a wordpress update, what is minimum PHP version from your server host? Hostgator just made an update that affected many of our customers. (I found errors in plugins using firebug/firefox & chrome developer tools that weren't visible to normal customers. We filed bug reports with the plugin authors involved. All fixed now.)

--Absolutely best thing is to make copy of your site, templates and plugins. Test on local host first, then go ahead and update on production site.

--Plugins can be a concern. You might try turning them off first on the local site, update wordpress, then turn them on one at a time. You will probably have to check each plugins author to see if there are updates available. I'm finding out that many plugin authors do NOT use the update notification system.

--Frankly the biggest risks I've seen from one click updates are a zealous admin can simply click once and update a site without first testing. Way too easy to do. We've added the words "REMOVE_ME" in front of critical update API keys in the admin panel so we don't get a one click (oops) update.

--Of late my only update failures have come from my purchased template suppliers. I've got one source who has updated their template three or four times in the past six months withOUT backwards compatibility. At each update the site crashes, and my customer is upset. I've finally had to stop all updates for that template (which could be a risky thing if ever a security flaw is found... been there before...) I would abandon that supplier and ask for my money back if I didn't already have lots of time invested in that theme. No way to undo it now. Bad choice on going with those guys.

Good luck.

  • How long does an update take? Looks like I may have to do manual update. In that case, if everything goes smooth, will it take around 5-6 hours for testing everything or more than that? I will be updating my localhost version first before updating the production site. Jun 17, 2014 at 13:56
  • An update should take only minutes. Make FTP backup of key elements in the site (plugins, theme content and uploads). good practice to make copy of database (at frequent intervals!) do the one button push update, should only take a few minutes. Try the site, see what doesn't work right. Note: the biggest problem in having a test site different from a production site is managing URL's naming schema affecting links and image display. You can't just copy database from one to the other. If you don't worry about those, it really is just a few minutes to update and test.
    – zipzit
    Jun 17, 2014 at 19:56

I've updated many Wordpress sites and , adding up to what has already been answered, what I'd do is:

  • make sure that you have no custom stuff in your plugins (everything will get overwritten if so)
  • have a database dump (export your tables)
  • have a local copy of your site (you won't need wordpress files, just wp-content and .htaccess of course wp-config.php and anything else you have custom)

Update the files automatically. It will just add a new version of the files and upgrade the database if needed (this is the most tricky).

If you have blank pages: - rename plugin folders - rename theme folder

and troubleshoot the error.

Good luck!

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