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The recent security Update to WP 5.0.1 also brough an update with Version 4 to 4.9.9.

I got a clients project which where build on swamp land ages ago. Every Update is Hoping nothing will happen.

Now i do think of staying with WordPress 4 for my maintained nightmare project, if they still develop important security updates.

There is also the classic editor Plugin, which isn't working for every case. Got already another Project where an very old unmaintained Plugin get unusable. I do fear even interrupting changes with placing the classic editor. It's a quite big page and i guess my client isn't willing easily to pay a refactoring which needs several weeks on programming. Of course i can test everything on a testing system..

But of course it won't be a comfortable click of a button to update. I will need to go with SVN or GitHub i guess.

  • Why are you holding off from 5? If it’s just the editor, just install the Classic Editor plugin. – Jacob Peattie Dec 13 '18 at 11:57
  • @JacobPeattie yes, that's true. i also had bad experience with that on another quite old project. i added this to my post. – André Kelling Dec 13 '18 at 12:02
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It is not recommended in any way to maintain a website on the 4.9.9 WordPress release to support legacy code that is poorly written. Although some of the security patches may be backported, scriptbots will target your website seeking out known exploits to access user data. According to WordPress:

"The only current officially supported version is WordPress 5.0.1. Previous major releases before this may or may not get security updates as serious exploits are discovered... WordPress will be backported security updates when possible, but there are no guarantee and no timeframe for older releases. There are no fixed period of support nor Long Term Support (LTS) version such as Ubuntu's. None of these are safe to use, except the latest series, which is actively maintained."

Explaining this to your client directly & making clear the security risks is most important. Create a development sandbox on a subdomain & test the WordPress updates for compatibility before you commit the changes to the live production website.

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    One year after 4.9 was released and 30% of wordpress sites are not even on it. so "not recommended" maybe, but it is a very established and working practice. – Mark Kaplun Dec 13 '18 at 13:44
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    This 30% is most likely abandoned & unmaintained WordPress websites. With auto-updates, there is only user error or developer's choice to maintain WP on older releases. Eventually these sites get pwned with backdoors but usually do not contain any user information of value in the database to hackers. – scriptbox Dec 13 '18 at 15:03
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Everything that is so deep in technical debt that you are afraid to touch it needs the debt to be "paid out" and relevant upgrades to be done. If not done at some point the site will just die and there will be nothing to do about it as the upgrade paths might also not be usable any more at that point.

Generally there is no problem with keeping wordpress on older release and install the security updates when they are available, but if it is just a plot to avoid handling technical debt forever (instead of waiting for a nore appropriate time) then the end will be grim.

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    yes. true. it's a matter of my communication to my customer... i already told them that their website isn't in a good shape. – André Kelling Dec 13 '18 at 14:03

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