Automatic Updates, and Why They’re Unreliable

Automatic anything can be a godsend. Ice dispensers, bill payments, and doors are just a few of the automations we enjoy on a daily basis. Who else pretends they’re using the power of the Force when walking into the grocery store? I can’t be alone on this. However, enabling auto updates on your site can be anything but a godsend.

Problems with Automatic Updates

The most obvious problem with automatic updates is that they don’t leave a history. If something on a site breaks, there’s no way to know where it broke, when, and why. Remember Hansel and Gretel? They got home safely the first time because they followed a pebble trail. Yes, they were captured by a cannibalistic witch, but that was only because their second trail was made of breadcrumbs and eaten by birds. Without a trail to guide them home, they were forced to wander through the woods, hopelessly lost. See what happens when you don’t have a trail? You almost get eaten by a witch.

We at Curious Minds generally dissuade our clients from enabling automatic updates for the reason above, minus the witch part. Recent updates in WordPress (5.5 and 5.6, in particular), for example, allow auto updates to be enabled for Themes and plugins. However, again, we stress to all of our clients that they do not enable these updates from automatically occurring. Auto updates can also create a slew of problems if your site is highly customized, throwing a wrench into the entire site.

That’s not the not the only reason to avoid these, though it’s the most glaring. Another reason is that vulnerabilities can be introduced with new features. If you don’t check your code base first, you won’t catch them in time. This can make your site susceptible to security issues.

Another is that updates may have a compatibility issue. Sometimes an update isn’t compatible with an older system, causing major errors, and potentially breaking your site. This ties back to our first issue, no trail or history available. You won’t be able to find out where the compatibility issue started. Imagine the ramifications of this in the middle of a promotion for your business.

Why Use Auto Updates

Then why include automatic updates with system improvements? If they’re only going to cause problems, what’s the point? Are they useful at all? Well, sort of. They’re useful for one thing. They’re convenient. It’s easier to enable automatic updates than it is to go in and implement an update every time one is available. But is that really more convenient? If your site breaks from an update, then no, it’s really not. Especially if you don’t know where where the break occurred. It’s like smashing a rock through a window because you forgot your keys. The upside is you have your keys back. The downside is that your window is broken. And it’s winter. In Minnesota.

Solutions

Well, it sounds like the best solution is to not enable auto updates, right? But what if you don’t to approve and implement every individual update? There’s a solution. With one of Curious Minds’ maintenance service plans, you never have to worry about updates or improvements. All you have to do is sit back, and relax. Take a break from having to work on your site. We’ll handle it from here.

About Curious Minds
We are a web development firm in New York and Chicago, providing development resources and consulting for websites and mobile apps since 2004.