How Plugin Updates Can Get You into Trouble
Do you regularly log into your WordPress dashboard and apply important updates? Good for you! Preventative maintenance is as vital for your website as it is for your car.
But what do you do when something goes wrong?
A client recently emailed me because after updating her plugins, she got an error message and could no longer access her WordPress dashboard.
Upon investigation, I determined that one of her plugins wasn’t compatible with the old version of PHP that her site was running.
What is PHP and what’s it got to do with me?
WPBeginner explains that “PHP is a programming and scripting language to create dynamic interactive websites. WordPress is written using PHP as the scripting language.”
Your hosting company enables PHP on your hosting account, and most of the time, you don’t even need to think about it. Some web hosts periodically update your version of PHP. My clients’ apparently didn’t, leading to the problem described above.
The Short-Term Solution
- I installed WP Engine’s PHP 7 Compatibility Checker plugin.
- I ran some tests and discovered that her WordPress theme was likely to have problems with any of the newer versions of PHP.
- I updated her theme and then her PHP version, fully restoring site functionality.
Fortunately, this particular problem only affected the WordPress dashboard. Sometimes an incompatible plugin will cause your whole website to crash – which may drive potential clients right to your competition. Can you afford to have your website offline for even a few hours?
The Long-Term Solution
If you don’t have the time or technical expertise to look after your website, it may be time to sign up for one of my new Website Care Plans.