How to Better Manage Automatic WordPress Updates

Written by WordPress Expert

June 3, 2023
How to Better Manage Automatic WordPress Updates

Automatic WordPress updates have been around since version 3.7. This feature was designed to help encourage WordPress website owners to update their website regularly. However, you might not want to rely solely on automatic WordPress updates and implement a better way. In this article, you’ll learn how to better manage automatic WordPress updates.

What is updated automatically by WordPress?

Automatic WordPress updates usually include:

**WordPress core updates

WordPress core updates involve the entire wp-admin and wp-include folders, as well as any root WordPress files. Any update applied is usually involving new features, security patches, and improving existing code.

WordPress core updates are divided into major releases and minor releases. Minor releases usually involved security patches and tweaking some areas of what was released in the previous major update. A major update may contain some security patches, but they usually include a lot of new features or updating of existing features.

**WordPress plugin updates

WordPress plugin updates involve any plugin that you have installed, whether activated or not.

**WordPress theme updates

WordPress theme updates include any installed theme, no matter if they are currently active.

**WordPress translation file updates

WordPress translation file updates include any file for WordPress core, themes, or plugins that were translated into any dialect. Sometimes these files require more translation depending if there are new areas within WordPress, a plugin, or a theme that the user will need to read.

Should you rely on automatic WordPress updates?

Updating your website is super important, and even a responsibility that your web host requires of you. Updates allow for your site to not only run smoothly, but securely. Code for PHP and other markup languages are always changing and evolving, which also means that there’s also a lot of hackers putting together code to infiltrate any vulnerabilities within your site.

However, it’s important to find a balance between automatic WordPress updates and not entirely jump on the bandwagon. In just allowing automatic WordPress updates to keep running, without being entirely aware of how the process is done, you may end up eventually running into a problem where your site either doesn’t update right or an error shows up.

The best way to handle updating WordPress is to make sure you backup your site first, and then update. However, if you trust some updates over others, you can use a method with a plugin or without a plugin to better manage automatic WordPress Updates.

How to Manage Automatic WordPress Updates with a plugin

Easy updates manager

If you’re not comfortable handling a few code snippets and adding them to a file, you can use a plugin to manage automatic WordPress updates. For this article, you’ll be using the Easy Updates Manager plugin.

Once you install and activate the Easy Updates Manager plugin, you can find the Update Options under the Dashboard section of your WordPress admin menu.

The areas you will want to take a look at and adjust are:

  • General Settings
  • Plugins
  • Themes

General Settings

Easy Updates Manager plugin General settings

The General settings of the Easy Updates Manager plugin allow you to either enable or disable all automatic WordPress updates, or just disable some automatic updates. You can also opt to have the plugin email you when an update has been done.

When going through the general settings of this plugin, you may want to only allow automatic updates of minor releases, and then manage automatic updates of specific themes or plugins individually.


lists all plugins in Easy Updates manager

The plugin settings for Easy Updates manager lists all active and inactive plugins that are installed on your WordPress website. You can toggle to either allow or block automatic WordPress updates.

If you have some inactive plugins installed, it’s best to remove them, even if you only use them for specific tasks. A plugin that is inactive has the potential to be a security risk down the line, especially if it becomes an abandoned plugin (one that the developer has stopped developing and providing updates for.)


lists all themes in Easy Updates manager

The theme settings section of the Easy Updates manager plugin lists all active and inactive themes that you’ve installed. You can toggle to allow or block any automatic WordPress updates.

As a note, if you have a ton of themes installed, you should only keep your active theme or child theme, parent theme (if you have a child theme), and a default WordPress theme like Twenty Twenty-Three.

How to Better Manage Automatic WordPress Updates without a plugin

If you prefer not to use any plugins, and you’re comfortable with handling code, then this option might be for you. Any of these options simply require you to add the snippet of code to your wp-config.php file.

  • Disable ALL WordPress Updates
  • Disable Automatic WordPress Core Updates

Disable ALL WordPress Updates

To disable all automatic WordPress updates, you can add the following code to your wp-config.php file:


Disable Automatic WordPress Core Updates

If you only want to disable WordPress core from automatically updating, then add the following code to your wp-config.php file:

define( 'WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE', true );

If you decide at one point to turn it back on, but don’t want to remove the code, then change the ‘true’ to ‘false’. Additionally, if you only wish to allow minor automatic WordPress core updates, then you can change the ‘true’ to ‘minor’.

In the case you need to make sure specific themes or plugins are updating, you can apply a filter. You can learn more about controlling those background updates here. Just make sure that before you add any of these code snippets, that you create a backup of your site.

In Summary

If you’re allowing any automatic updates, make sure to have scheduled backups in case an update goes wrong. Ideally, the best way to handle updates, if you have a backup plan in place, is to not allow major automatic updates. There’s no real harm if you are allowing automatic updates, but it’s important to be a bit cautious, and test any major release.

Hopefully one of the solutions in this article on how to better manage automatic WordPress updates will help you.

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