Should I update to the latest version of WordPress?

Should you always update to the latest version of WordPress? If you’ve read our blog posts before, you know that we at RED recommend keeping your WordPress software and plugins up to date as one of the best ways to keep your WordPress website secure. But is this always necessary?

WordPress 5.4 came out March 31, 2020. Some webhosts are sending out emails encouraging their customers to update, if they don’t automatically push the update out.

update to the latest version of WordPressShould you update your WordPress version right now?

When we talk about WordPress versions, it’s important to understand the difference between a major release and a minor release.

“A major WordPress version is dictated by the first two sequences. For example, 3.5 is a major release. So is 3.6, 3.7, all the way up to 4.0. Major releases add new user features and developer APIs.

“A minor WordPress version is dictated by the third sequence. Version 3.9.1 is a minor release. So is 3.8.2. A minor release is intended for bugfixes and enhancements that do not add new deployed files and are at the discretion of the release lead with suggestions/input from component maintainers and committers.”

There is never a reason to rush to upgrade to the latest major release of WordPress. In some cases, as with the WordPress 5.0 version that introduced the Gutenberg editor, it can be better to wait until any bugs or other maintenance issues are worked out in the following minor release.
As explained above, a major release, indicated with 2 numbers like 5.3, or 5.4, indicates that new features have been added. It does not patch any security issues.
Minor releases, indicated with three numbers, like 5.3.1, or 5.3.2, can include either security updates or minor bugfixes, or both. For example, in the release list, you can see in the notes that 5.3.1 was a security release. That means it was important to make that update immediately. 5.3.2, on the other hand, was a maintenance release. This means that at the present time, there are no known security issues in 5.3.1, so a site can be on 5.3.1, 5.3.2, or 5.4, and be secure.
We have only very rarely seen issues when upgrading WordPress to a new major version, so in most cases it isn’t a major risk to upgrade. However, it’s also fine to wait until the the next maintenance or security (minor) release comes out to update your website.

What is new in the 5.4 version of WordPress?

The 5.4 release, which you can read more about here, added some new Gutenberg editor blocks, new privacy settings, and a few other features. If you want to upgrade your website to see the new features, check out our guide to upgrading your WordPress website safely for how you can do so.
If you have a security package with us, rest assured that we keep an eye on the latest versions, and we ensure that your site is on a secure version at all times.

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Alisa Cognard

Alisa was one of the first team members to join Red Earth Design, Inc. in early 2004. From data entry, she progressed to MySQL database manipulation and PHP coding. Alisa is responsible for all kinds of odds and ends: installing new websites, adding features to them, programming databases, PHP coding, website troubleshooting, website security, and organizational tasks for Red Earth Design.

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