How to Use the One-Click Plugin Update on WordPress

By Lisa Sabin-Wilson

For a lot of reasons, mainly security reasons and feature updates, always use the most up-to-date versions of the plugins in your WordPress blog. With everything you have to do every day, how can you possibly keep up with knowing whether the plugins you’re using have been updated?

You don’t have to. WordPress does it for you.

WordPress notifies you when a new update is available for a plugin in three different ways:

  • Dashboard Updates link: The Updates link below the Dashboard menu displays a circle with a white number. The number indicates how many plugins have updates available. Click the Updates link to see which plugins have updates available.

  • Toolbar: When there is a new update available, a small icon appears in the toolbar at the top of your Dashboard to the right of your site title.

  • Plugins menu title: The Plugins menu title also displays a circle with a number. As with the Updates link, the number indicates how many plugins have updates available.

  • Plugins page: Below the Akismet plugin you see a message that says, There is a new version of Akismet available. View version 2.5.9 details or update now.

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WordPress gives you not only a message that a new version of the plugin is available, but also a link to a page where you can download the new version, or a link that you can click to update the plugin right there and then — WordPress’s one-click plugin update.

Click the Update Now link, and WordPress grabs the new files off the WordPress.org server, uploads them to your plugins directory, deletes the old plugin, and activates the new one. (If a plugin is deactivated at the time it’s updated, WordPress gives you the option to activate the plugin after your update process is completed.)

WordPress notifies you of an out-of-date plugin and provides you with the one-click upgrade function only for plugins that are in the official WordPress Plugin Directory. If a plugin you are using is not listed in the directory, the notification and one-click upgrade function won’t be present for that plugin.

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Whatever you do, do not ignore the plugin update messages that WordPress gives you. Plugin developers usually release new versions because of security problems or vulnerabilities that require an upgrade. If you notice that an upgrade is available for a plugin you’re using, stop what you’re doing and upgrade it — it takes only a few seconds.

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For the automatic plugin upgrade to work, your plugin directory (/wp-content/plugins) must be writable on your web server, which means that you should have set permissions of 755 or 777 (depending on your web server configuration).