Do you want to disable automatic updates on your WordPress site?
Keeping up with the latest technology, tools, and fixes is the best practice when managing your website. However, some updates may break your website if not tested properly.
WordPress core automatically installs security updates on most websites. While this will improve your website security, the updates may, in rare cases, affect your site in ways not expected.
In this guide, we will explain why you may decide to disable WordPress automatic updates. Then we will show you how to disable them on your WordPress site.
- Why Disable Auto Updates in WordPress
- Pros and Cons of Disabling Auto Update
- How to Disable WordPress Automatic Updates
Why Disable Automatic Updates in WordPress?
WordPress sites are automatically updated whenever a security update is released by the WordPress team. These updates are necessary because they help protect your website from attackers.
However, there are some cases where automatic updates may cause more harm than good to your site. For instance, if a plugin depends on a certain version of WordPress, an auto update may break your website due to compatibility issues.
Although the WordPress team tests each update before rolling it out to users, it is humanly impossible to test every combination of plugin or theme by each WordPress user. For example, the number of plugins on website A will be different from that of site B.
Given this discrepancy, some sites are at risk of running into compatibility issues because the updates are not properly tested.
Another scenario occurs on sites that use custom styles. An automatic update on your current theme will override any customizations you have set on your website.
This could break your sites’ design and affect the User Experience. Of course, you can avoid this by using a child theme.
Pros of Disabling Auto Updates
- It gives you control over when updates are applied on your website.
- You reduce the risk of breaking your website. This is because updates will be tested for compatibility before pushing on your live site.
Cons of Disabling Automatic Updates
- Your site may be at risk of getting attacked if an important security update is not applied on time.
- If you disable auto updates, you will have to manually update your site which can be time-consuming. Also, unless you set reminders and stick to them, it’s easy to forget to perform updates altogether.
Having listed some of the pros and cons of disabling automatic WordPress updates, you can now make an informed decision on whether to enable or disable them on your website.
How to Disable WordPress Automatic Updates
There are two ways you can achieve this on your website. The first method is straightforward using a WordPress plugin, while the second requires basic coding knowledge.
There are plugins to handle virtually any task or issue on WordPress websites. Like you would guess, there are several plugins you can use to disable auto update in WordPress.
In this guide, we will stick with the Easy Updates Manager plugin. This plugin is one of the most popular and has been tested with the latest version of WordPress.
With this plugin, you are in control of the updates you wish to enable/disable. You can choose to disable auto updates for your plugins and themes or enable them for minor core updates. The choice is totally up to you.
On the search box, enter “Easy Updates Manager”. After that, click on Install Now next to the plugin. And click on Activate after the installation completes.
Customizing Easy Updates Manager
First, go to Dashboard >> Update options to open the plugins settings page.
On the General tab, you have the option to Disable all updates on your website. By default, updates are enabled for all sites. If you disable all updates, you will not receive any notification or email whenever an update is available. We recommend not changing any setting here.
Below that, you will find the “WordPress core updates” option. Here you can configure how core updates should be handled.
We set this option to Auto Install all Minor updates because they are mostly security updates. But you can select the Disable auto updates option if that’s what you want.
Under plugin updates, select the option to Disable auto updates. Similarly, select Disable auto updates under the “Theme updates” option.
You can select the option to Enable auto updates under Translation updates. This option rarely causes issues on WordPress sites.
Important Note: If you select Disable core updates as opposed to Disable auto updates (like we used above), you will not receive any notification on future updates.
If you want to change or add an email address for receiving update notifications, simply enter the email address(es) on the textbox. Next, click on the Save email addresses button.
To add multiple email addresses, use a “comma” to separate each email.
This plugin also has a Logs section that keeps track of all the updates on your website. This is useful because you can roll back updates that conflict with your site from here.
To access the setting, click on the Logs tab. If you complete any update, the information will be logged here.
Manually Disable Auto update
Some WP users generally prefer using manual methods to solve tasks on their websites because it saves server resources.
If you do not want to install an additional plugin on your site for this task, then you can use custom code to disable auto updates on your website.
This option requires making changes to your site files on the server, so we recommend you backup your site before proceeding. That way, you can always revert your changes if something goes wrong.
After connecting to your server through FTP, navigate to the directory containing your site files (usually public_html).
Within this folder, locate the wp-config file. Then right-click on the file and select View/Edit. Choose a text editor to open the file.
On the editor, copy and paste the code snippet below just before the line that reads “That’s all, stop editing! Happy publishing”.
define( 'WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE', false );
Save the file. You will be prompted to re-upload and overwrite the old file, hit Yes.
The code above will disable auto updates for WordPress core files. If you want to disable automatic updates for plugins and themes, you need to include an add_filter() function on your themes’ function.php file.
Manually Disabling Automatic Updates for Themes and Plugins
To start, double click on the wp-content folder on Filezilla.
Next, double click on the themes directory.
Here, locate your current themes’ folder and then double click on it.
Now, right-click on the functions.php file and then select View/Edit.
To disable automatic updates for themes, copy and paste the code below to your theme’s function.php file.
add_filter( 'auto_update_theme', '__return_false' );
To disable auto updates for plugins, paste the line of code below.
add_filter( 'auto_update_plugin', '__return_false' );
Ensure you save the file, and when prompted to upload, hit Yes.
Side Note: The downside to manually disabling auto updates for themes and plugins is that the settings will be overridden when you update your theme.
A quick way to get around this hitch is to use a child theme. That way, your site retains any customization you set whenever an update occurs. Please check this guide to learn how to create a child theme in WordPress.
Conclusion – Is Disabling WordPress Auto Updates the Best Option?
Well, there is no right or wrong answer here. If you enable automatic updates on your site, it helps secure your WordPress site. In some cases though, they could break your site if the update is not compatible with your website.
For small sites, automatic updates rarely cause any complications because your site has fewer plugins and files. Allowing auto WordPress core updates can be a good idea in such a scenario because it saves you time.
Large sites with more files and plugins may run into errors such as White Screen of Death if an automatic update is not compatible with some of the plugins on your website.
Manually testing these updates on a staging environment helps you identify and resolve any error before pushing to your live site.
So if you decide to disable automatic WordPress updates on your website, we have shown you 2 ways to easily achieve it.
Keep in mind that this translates to more workload for the site owner because you have to manually check, test, and update your site whenever WordPress releases an update.
This can be rather tedious and time-consuming especially if you manage multiple sites. Fortunately, you can request our maintenance services so our WordPress experts take care of updating your website.