A How to Guide: on Getting WordPress Auto-Update Feature Disabled

One great aspect about the WordPress platform, apart from providing ample customization possibilities, is that new WordPress versions are released from time to time. And, many new features and improvements are introduced in each version. With the release of the WordPress 3.7 version, a new feature named “Automatic Updates” was released – that enabled automatic background updates of themes, plugins and core files of a WordPress install.

The WordPress auto-update feature was introduced to promote better security, however, the feature can also cause the site to break down. You can avoid such a scenario from happening, by turning off the auto update feature of your WordPress site. In this post, I’ll help you understand how you can disable WordPress automatic background updates feature.

A Look at the Pros and Cons of Automatic WordPress Updates

You might have heard of the famous proverb, “every coin has two sides.” The same is true in case of ‘Automatic WordPress Updates’ feature. Put it simply, the auto-update feature contains a set of pros as well as cons as discussed below.

Pros:

  • The biggest benefit of the automatic updates feature is that it helps in improving the security of a WordPress site, since your theme and all the plugins are updated according to the latest maintenance and security releases. This helps in keeping your site protected from security vulnerabilities or any performance issues.

  • Running auto-updates were only possible earlier when a user paid for “managed WordPress hosting”. However, the same feature can be used by any WordPress user (notably for minor releases).

  • Lastly, you don’t have to worry about missing out details concerning: applying a security patch to fix critical security issues found in WordPress. That’s because, WordPress itself will automatically perform the updates even when you’re on a vacation. In essence, you won’t have to worry about the security of your site once the auto-update feature is enabled.

Cons:

  • One big downside to turning on automatic updates in a WordPress site is that it can result in breaking down your website.

  • In case you’re modifying the core files of your WordPress install, then the auto-update feature can override those files, resulting in the loss of original data. This can happen especially when you choose to modify the WordPress theme files.

Understanding The Process to Disable Automatic WordPress Updates

There are two different ways that can be used to disable automatic updates feature in WordPress, such as:

1. Using WordPress Plugins

Of course, disabling the auto-update feature is the only solution to avoid the slight chances that it will break down your site. One of the easiest and recommended ways to achieve such an objective is to install and activate the “Easy Updates Manager” plugin. This plugin helps in managing all sorts of updates on a WordPress site. Most importantly, it gives you complete control over managing your website updates.

Once you’ve installed and activated the plugin, from your WordPress website admin dashboard screen go to Settings → Updates Options section, so as to configure your settings.

1. Using WordPress Plugins

In the above image, as you can see there are numerous update options available. All you have to do is to pick and choose the options that you would like to disable. After making the desired changes, make sure to click on the “Save Changes” button at the bottom of the screen.

2. Turn Off Auto-updates Manually

Another great alternative to disable automatic updates in your WordPress install is to embed the following line of code in your wp-config.php file:

define( ‘WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE’, false );

This line of code will help in disabling all automatic WordPress updates.

But, what if you would like to receive minor core updates and just want to disable theme and plugin updates from happening? In that case, add the below mentioned filters in your WordPress theme’s functions.php file or within your site-specific plugin.

//helps in disabling automatic WordPress theme updates:

add_filter( ‘auto_update_theme’, ‘__return_false’ );

// helps in disabling automatic WordPress plugin updates:

add_filter( ‘auto_update_plugin’, ‘__return_false’ );

Wrapping Up!

Undoubtedly, running automatic WordPress updates provide several great features. But, oftentimes it can even cause the website to break down. In this post, you’ll find some super easy ways to cope with the issues related to disabling auto-update feature in a WordPress install in the most efficient manner possible.

Sophia Phillips is expert frond-end & WordPress developer. Currently, she is an employed with WordPrax Ltd. Sophia has had written a remarkable number of articles on WordPress tricks and tips.

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