If we had a nickel for every time we’ve been asked this question, we could churn out websites for free! It’s a great question, and so often asked.
The short answer is: YES! 100%!
Plugin updates are extremely important. Before we get to the juicy stuff, let’s first discuss what this post is NOT. This isn’t a post to explain what a plugin is; we’re going to assume you’re past that point. This also isn’t a post explaining the best practices of updating plugins (on that topic though… Please ALWAYS make a backup of your website & database before updating plugins).
Okay, let’s break this down. Updating your WordPress plugins are important for many reasons, but we’re going to stick to the following as our “big 3”:
- New Features
#1 – Security
Research by WP Template shows that plugins are a common entry point for hackers, in fact their research showed 22% of hacked sites were hacked through plugins. Let’s be clear, your site is likely not a personal target for anyone, as most hackers are looking for opportunity.
Updating plugins is a quick & easy way to make sure your odds of being part of the next statistic are slim. Those updates come with important security updates and patches reported by hosting companies, ethical hackers and discovered by the teams that built them.
#2 – Speed
Speed is a common issue with our clients as they start to have so many plugins. It’s what we call plugin bloat. With so much running in the background and so many different plugins taking up processing power, your site can become bogged down quickly. It’s one reason we recommend being smart about your plugin choices in the first place, but the time will come that you’ll need to install a few plugins.
Updating your plugins updates the codebase for that functionality. Oftentimes developers have optimized their code or cleaned up features. They also make sure new updates are compatible with your newer version of WordPress or another core plugin or theme they work with (WooCommerce/Genesis/etc.) which often contain enhancements of their own. See this common theme of iteratively getting better & better? 🙂
#3 – New Features
This is the fun part and needs much less explaining. Who doesn’t want new features?! Don’t you love it when you update your iPhone and there’s new emojis to use? A lot of times, major plugin updates will include new features to stay competitive and add more value. This could mean a lot! Sometimes it means you don’t need multiple plugins to solve one problem or now there’s a new automation feature or integration available that can make your life easier.
Updating your WordPress plugins is a crucial part of owning your WordPress website. You risk your website’s security, speed, frontend & backend experience by not updating. All that said, there are SAFE & UNSAFE ways of updating your plugins and there are also hands-on & hands-off ways. For more about that, checkout our post on Best Practices for Plugin Updates.