Many WordPress website operators are afraid of updating the very core of their website when updates are released. They fear that these updates might break their sites — which can happen. However, once you understand what kind of updates are being released, you can be much more at ease. Below you will see what the digits of the WordPress version stand for.

WordPress Version and what the digits mean. In this example: 4.9.2.

Major releases

The digits in the first two places (in our example 4.9) represent the major release numbers. These releases include new features and changes to the underlying code that developers use to create themes and plugins. And yes, there’s always a chance that a major update might break something on your site.

As a WordPress website operator, you have to carry out these kinds of updates manually. While that itself happens at the click of a button, I highly recommend that you make a backup of your website that includes the database. Doing so ist just as easy, once you’ve installed a plugin such as All In One Migration.

Frequency of releases: Every 4 to 5 months.

Minor releases

The third digit, (in our example above the 2) indicates a minor release that fixes bugs and patches security problems. These releases do not affect the core functionality of your website, so generally, they will not break your site or affect any installed themes or plugins. Which is why these are performed automatically by default. That is a good thing because you will always want your website to be safe.

Frequency of releases: Whenever necessary. 

How to update your WordPress Website

As a general rule, when you’re maintaining your website and you see there are many updates available, you should always follow the alphabetical order:

  1. Plugins
  2. Theme
  3. WordPress

As mentioned above, you should always backup your website and database before updating to a major WP release and before updating your theme. A great and easy solution is All In One Migration. If you know you will maintain your website on a regular basis, e.g. once a month on a fixed schedule (it is always a good idea to make this a habit), you can also use an automated backup solution, such as Updraft Plus, which saves the backup files to your Dropbox. Both plugins are free.

Once you have a backup in place, you can head on over to your WP dashboard and update away. If anything does go wrong, you can always roll back and upload your backup. Both suggested solutions have great tutorials and how-to videos on their websites and YouTube.