WooCommerce is the leading eCommerce platform in the market. The reason for this large market share is that the plugin is flexible and easy to set up. It easily integrates with WordPress and other WooCommerce extensions.
Installing updates on WooCommerce without taking proper precautions can break your site. This can lead to a bad user experience for your customers and a loss of revenue.
In this guide, we will walk you through the precautionary steps to take before updating WooCommerce to avoid update errors. We will also show you how to update WooCommerce.
- Does WooCommerce Update Automatically?
- What is the Latest Version of WooCommerce?
- How to Update WooCommerce to the Latest Version – The Proper Way
- How to Restore a WordPress Backup
Does WooCommerce Update Automatically?
By default, WooCommerce doesn’t update automatically, but you can configure automatic updates from the plugins page.
From your WordPress Admin dashboard, go to Plugins > Installed Plugins. Now, scroll down to locate WooCommerce.
Then select the Enable auto-updates option. This enables auto-update for WooCommerce.
Once you enable this option, any future release to WooCommerce will be automatically updated. While automatically updating WooCommerce might save time, it is never recommended as this may lead to plugin compatibility issues if not properly tested.
What is The Latest Version of WooCommerce?
At the time of making this post, WooCommerce operates on version 6.5.1. This version may be higher depending on the time you are reading this post. If you need to know the current version at any time, you can see it on the WooCommerce plugin page.
We recommend that you always have the latest version of the plugin to enjoy updated features and security. But before updating WooCommerce, you should take precautions to ensure your WooCommerce store does not break.
How to Update WooCommerce to The Latest Version – The Proper Way
When updates are rolled out, you may want to simply click the “Update now” button and leave it to update in the background. While this approach saves you time, it can also cause more harm to your site if updates are not tested.
That is why it is always recommended to test every release in a cloned version of your website. You are to do this before you update your live store. This way, you can identify any error that may occur on the live website before installing an update.
Things to Know Before you Update WooCommerce to the Latest Version
Before you update your WooCommerce plugin, you should know that any errors can affect your brand trust, revenue, and even cause you to lose your store. For this reason, you need to take caution when updating. To prepare, you need to make the following available.
A Backup Tool
Ideally, you should take regular backups for your website because it is critical to run a WordPress website. A regular backup is necessary in case you lose data on your website. This can be from an attack or from incompatible updates on your site.
In the case of updating WooCommerce, you need to backup your store before updating the plugin. That way, you can always revert to a recent backup if something goes wrong. Please check our guide on How to Perform Regular WordPress Backup for more information.
A Visual Comparison Tool
This tool lets you take a snapshot of your site before modifications. You can also use it to take another snapshot after modification. The tool helps you to compare the two snapshots and mark any change that must have occurred during the modification.
Doing so manually will be tedious, especially if you are running a complex eCommerce store. Minor changes can be difficult to spot. So you need to use an automatic tool such as WP Boom to do a visual comparison of your website.
An End-to-end Testing Tool
Apart from doing a visual comparison of your website to detect a broken page, you also need an end-to-end testing tool to detect any malfunction. This tool records major functions on your website to detect if any are broken. You can do this before you update your WooCommerce store and after you do so to compare each function.
If there is an error, you can then resolve it. Since it will be likewise difficult to manually perform these automated tests, you need a tool for it. We will use Ghost Inspector in this guide.
A Staging Environment
It is not recommended to update the WooCommerce plugin on live websites. That is because you may run into compatibility issues while updating. This can result in loss of revenue, or worse, break your WooCommerce store.
The best method to update WooCommerce is to do it on an identical version of your website. This is also known as a staging or testing environment. You can do this manually by creating a subdomain and exporting your site to it. You can also save time by using a plugin to automatically set up a staging site.
Updating WooCommerce on a dummy version of your website can help you to detect any errors that may occur before updating the live website.
Prepare and Update WooCommerce on your Staging Environment
Before we get started on the process, you need to back up your website. You can use backup plugins, such as UpdraftPlus to achieve this. You can learn how to set this up from our guide on How to Perform Regular WordPress Backup.
Create a Staging Environment
After backing up your site, you need to create a staging website where we will test out the update. You can manually do this from cPanel if your hosting provider supports it. Otherwise, you need to use a WordPress staging plugin to set it up.
To create a staging website with cPanel, you will need to log in to your cPanel account via your hosting platform and create a subdomain. Once logged in, scroll down to the “Domains” section and then click on Subdomains.
This opens a new page where you can create a subdomain. Fill in a subdomain (such as ‘staging’) and choose your site’s domain from the dropdown. Once done, click on the Create button.
The next step is to locate the “WordPress Toolkit” or “WordPress Management‘’ from the cPanel dashboard. The configuration depends on your host provider preferences but should be similar to the one described in this guide.
On cPanel, navigate to the “Software” section and then select WordPress Manager.
Sidenote: If you cannot find this option on your dashboard, you can reach out to your hosting providers for support. Also, the option is only available to users who installed WordPress using the one-click install button on cPanel. If you manually installed WordPress, you won’t have this option. In that case, you have to use the WP Staging Plugin.
Staging Site Setup from cPanel
The next page contains settings and options to manage your WordPress installation. Click the expand arrow for your WooCommerce store.
Next, locate the “Staging” button and click on it.
On the staging page, select the URL for the staging installation (this should be the subdomain you created). The manager will automatically generate a database for the staging site.
Next, select “Site Settings”. You should disable search engine visibility. Once done, click on the Create Staging button.
Wait for the staging environment creation process to complete. This takes a couple of minutes.
If your web host does not provide the option to create a staging site, you can set up a local staging environment or use a WordPress staging plugin.
We have a detailed guide explaining the process. You can refer to our tutorial on how to set up a staging website.
Take a Snapshot
The next step before updating WooCommerce is to take a snapshot of the staging website interface. In this guide, we will use WP Boom to do this.
To get started, visit WP Boom and sign up for a new account. Once done, you are taken to the setup page where you can add your website URL.
You must ensure that the page to be tested is not password protected. If it is, WP Boom provides you a field to input the passwords to make it accessible. Click on the padlock icon on the input field to do so.
Once you fill in the required information, you can select CREATE SITE to continue.
Your first snapshot should start after then. You can select a snapshot by clicking on the camera icon.
This displays the snapshots as shown below.
Perform an End-to-end testing
Now that you have a snapshot of your staging website, the next step is to set up the tool for end-to-end testing. We will use Ghost Inspector for this.
To use this tool, you will need to sign up for an account with them. They offer a 14-day free trial, which you can renew if you are impressed with the results.
Once you set up your account, you can proceed to test your website by downloading the chrome or firefox extension.
After adding the extension to your browser, visit your WooCommerce website and select the extension icon from the extensions toolbar. On the pop-up screen, you need to log in using your account details.
After logging in, you can start a new test by selecting the “Create a New Test” option. After that, click on Record to begin.
Ghost inspector starts recording actions you perform on your website immediately.
You can now begin testing your site by clicking on relevant functions. The ghost inspector will record everything automatically. You can capture screenshots with the “Capture Screenshot” button.
Ensure you test the functionalities you noted earlier. Once you are satisfied, select the Finish button to save your recording.
Enter a name for the screen capture and then choose the option to compare screenshots. Once done, click on the Save button.
Afterward, click on the View Test button to see the test results.
This will load the details of your test results as shown below, you can see your test status (either passed or failed). You can also watch a video recording of the process.
Scrolling down reveals the details of the test and the associated screenshots.
Update WooCommerce on the Staging Environment
Now you have a backup, a detailed snapshot, and a function test of your website. You can now proceed to update WooCommerce on your staging website.
Log in to the admin dashboard of your staging website to begin. If you used the WP Staging plugin to do the cloning, you can access the admin dashboard by logging in with your credentials.
Once you log in, you have access to the WordPress Admin tools.
Alternatively, you can use the Admin URL of the subdomain (if you created the staging environment via cPanel). Once you log in to your staging website’s admin dashboard, go to Plugins >> Installed Plugins.
Then click the Update Now link below the version details.
This updates WooCommerce to the latest version on your staging website. After updating WooCommerce, visit your store and confirm if it is working as it should. Let’s show you how to use the snapshot tool to compare the changes.
Take another Snapshot
Once you update WooCommerce to the latest version on your staging website, you should take another snapshot to compare it with the previous one. This way, you can know if there are any harmful modifications or breaks resulting from the recent update.
To achieve this, we need to use the tool we previously used to take our initial snapshot, “WP Boom”. Go to your WP Boom dashboard and scroll down to your latest snapshot to select it by checking the box. Thereafter, click on the Snapshot Selected Sites button to create a new snapshot.
Once you take the snapshot, the percentage difference is displayed as shown below.
Click on the percentage difference to view a detailed comparison. Next, hover your mouse over a page URL to reveal the associated screenshot. Then click on the image to view the comparison.
The changes are highlighted in pink. You can go through them to decide if they are to be expected. You should go through every page that indicates a change to be certain that the changes aren’t critical.
Perform a Second End-to-end Testing After Updating WooCommerce
After confirming that there are no conflicts in your snapshots, you should perform second end-to-end testing with Ghost Inspector. The steps are similar to the initial test we ran earlier in this guide.
Once you complete the test, log in to your Ghost Inspector dashboard to view every test you have performed on your website. Then select New Suite.
This will open a new page where all recent tests are displayed. You can also see if your site passed or failed each test.
If your latest test doesn’t indicate “Passed”, you can troubleshoot the cause and fix it. If the upgrades affect some sections of your website, you need to troubleshoot your site to discover the cause of the issue.
Usually, this is caused by plugin conflict or incompatibility with your WordPress theme. We have a detailed guide on troubleshooting common WooCommerce errors. You can also request professional help from our team of experts.
Update and Test your WooCommerce Live Website
After resolving all issues on the staging website, you can continue to update it on your live website. You can either do this by pushing the cloned site to the live website, or by manually updating WooCommerce.
If you made some changes to the staging site after updating WooCommerce, you should note those changes and replicate them on the live site. Or, you can push the cloned site directly to the live site. This will save you from repeating the process.
But if no issue occurred after updating WooCommerce on your staging site, you can proceed to update WooCommerce directly from your live site.
To update WooCommerce from your admin dashboard go to Plugins >> Installed Plugins. Then select the update now option in the update information below WooCommerce.
Push a Cloned site to Live from cPanel
If you want to publish the changes from your staging site, you can do this from cPanel by going to “WordPress Toolkit” or “WordPress Management”. After that, select your staging website. You will see either the “Publish” or “Push to Live” button. Click on the button to continue.
You can continue with the default setup or click on the “Customize” tab to customize your settings.
Once you are done with this step, select the Push to Live button to continue.
cPanel automatically creates a backup of your website before pushing staging to live.
You can now take a second snapshot and perform end-to-end testing of your live website with WP Boom and Ghost Inspector to confirm that everything is as it is supposed to be.
If you use WP Staging, you may need to manually upgrade your WooCommerce on the live website. Check out their guide on migrating a staging environment to live.
Note: After updating your WooCommerce plugin to the latest version, you may notice a “WooCommerce Database Update” notification on your dashboard. This is an important option to make your store run smoothly. You should click on the Update WooCommerce Database button immediately to update it.
How to Restore a WordPress Backup
If you encounter a broken site after updating your WooCommerce plugin, you can revert to the last backup of your store. This is why regular backups are important.
Let’s show you how to restore the backup with a few clicks.
How to Restore UpdraftPlus Backup
From your WordPress admin dashboard, go to Settings >> UpdraftPlus Backups to open the plugin’s Settings page.
Locate the most recent backup and click the Restore button to restore your website backup.
On the next page, select all items you want to restore, and click Next.
This will download all your site files. Click next after that completes and follow the steps to complete the restore.
Final Thoughts on WooCommerce Update
WooCommerce is an eCommerce solution that powers many stores on the internet. But like every other web-based solution, there is a need for developers to add new features to their software, as well as fix issues. They push these updates to every copy of their products and prompt users to update to the latest version.
Each new release usually comes with additional security fixes to make your online store safer. And this makes installing an update essential. But such an update can cause harm to your entire website if not handled properly. This is because WooCommerce works with several other plugins that may not be compatible with the update.
Therefore, you need to treat each update with caution. In this guide, we have shown you how to do so by creating a staging website. Here, you can perform every tweak you need before pushing the changes to your live website.
We also showed you how to test a successful update by taking a snapshot and performing end-to-end testing of your site after the updates.
If you encounter any errors while updating your WooCommerce plugin, you can reach out to our team of WP experts for further guidance.