3 Types of Plugins That Can Totally Screw Up WordPress Upgrades

January 18, 2012 · 44 comments

in WordPress

Beware These 
Dangerous Plugins!

When preparing to update WordPress… There are three types of plugins you need to really paid attention too:

number-one-symbol-icon-bullet-1Those that tell you they need updates (they’re the easy ones!) The answer is simple here, update them before you upgrade…..

number-two-symbol-icon-bullet-2Those premium plugins that are sneaky because they don’t always use the auto update feature.

Be sure you’ve heard from the creator that they are compatible. For example, Popup Dom was not compatible with WP 3.3 at release (but a patch was available soon after) and needed deactivated or the upgrade broke…

number-three-symbol-icon-bullet-3and lastly… those plugins that sit there and don’t tell you they need up update but it’s because their developer abandoned them more than a year ago and they’re silently preparing to blow shit up for you.

Plugins with “last updated” dates of 2010 and older are often very dangerous (And 2008 plugins are almost always about to break stuff for sure!)

A little time spent entering the names of your plugins into the WordPress repository -> https://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/ and checking the last updated (and compatible with what version) details on them will alert you to deactivate them and find alternatives (and prevent costly bills since they won’t then be around to break your site).

Another tip, which I advise in my tutorial on how to upgrade WordPress safely, is to be sure to deactivate (not delete, deactivation preserves settings) your theme and plugins before you upgrade. Then upgrade. Then reactivate your stuff bit by bit so if something blows up you’ll at least KNOW which piece (and your upgrade at least will have run successfully).

Do WordPress upgrades make you nervous? Or have you mastered theme successfully? What “gottchas” would you recommend novice WordPress bloggers pay attention too?

~ Kim ~
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{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

Thomas January 18, 2012 at 7:23 am

Hi Kim
Upgrading Wordpress sometimes can be a tough one, but must of the times everything works out fine. I remember upgrading my blog with a Wordpress version that my theme not was compatible with. That was not fun at all. After that I have been a bit more cautious when making any big upgrades. What can I say. Backup, backup and backup (remember both files and database).

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Nile January 18, 2012 at 7:25 am

Normally the premium ones out there that require a license. I know that I was not happy with the Gold Cart for WP-Ecommerce because it failed to collect payment from the extra resources. Sometimes the plugins that require you to add extra templates… be careful with them and make sure your theme is coded properly where the template addition will fit in.

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Edyta January 18, 2012 at 8:53 am

Hi Kim,

Thanks for sharing these interesting tips. I checked all my plugins and I found out that some of them were updated in 2010. I will remove them, but I need to replace them. What is the best way to find the relevant plugins to replace?

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James Bennett January 18, 2012 at 10:33 am

Ohh, Wordpress Updates always make me nervous. I usually make a back-up of my database and wp-content files so that if something goes bad, I can at least restore from those files. I’ve had to do it once, my theme wasn’t compatible with the 3.0 upgrade and I had to rewrite my files until I figured out a fix.

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marquita herald January 18, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Great advice Kim! When my blog was hacked last fall one of the things I did was to check on each plugin and remove/replace anything that was outdated … lesson learned, now I periodically check and always before updating to the latest version of WP. Thanks!

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Brankica January 18, 2012 at 2:46 pm

This is a great tip, Kim. Especially about the abandoned ones. I usually do check the votes on compatibility before I add a plugin, but that is in rare cases, I rather go and ask you :)

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balkans January 18, 2012 at 5:11 pm

W3 total cache can really mess your life. I really do not see a reason to upgrade for now.

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doug_eike January 18, 2012 at 8:47 pm

This is great advice! I’ve not yet upgraded to WordPress 3.3.1, because I’ve been waiting until the bugs are worked out. I know it’s time to do so, but I’ve been hesitating because of the unknowns. Thanks for the tips!

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Richard January 18, 2012 at 8:51 pm

Hi Kim,
I’m always wary of older plugins and plugins that aren’t regularly updated by their authors. I’ve had plugins break my site and it’s a really bad experience. I try to stick with plugins that appear well updated and managed by their authors.

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Carolyn January 18, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Thanks, Kim. I hope I never have my blog blow up and now I know what to avoid!
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Jupiter Jim January 19, 2012 at 12:10 am

Kimberly,
outstanding follow up to your earlier article on the proper updating of your WordPress blog. All this information in both posts is so critical. So glad you brought attention to what to do with plugins when it’s time to upgrade. This is something an experienced blogger like you and Nile will think of and do, instinctively. However, the “average Joe or Josephine, as the case may be, just doesn’t think about this stuff, let alone how to actually do it. People are busy! They started blog to write and share not to become a mini-tech expert! But, and yet, they must get some tech in their blood or all their blogging will, in the end, be for naught… In my WordPress Video Tutorials on the subject, I always tell people to look at that plugin date of creation and the last time it was updated, to get a sense of how it’s gonna play with their current version of WP. This post is so good I had to share on my FB Fan Page, too!

Thanks for all your diligence!

– Jupiter Jim
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William Earl Amis January 19, 2012 at 1:00 am

Kim,I thought my schedule to keep updated on all our data needs was focused on needed knowledge base. You have opened my eyes to my sites. With WordPress, I thank you for pointing out to deactivate and not delete settings. This is an area that is never reviewed until now.You have saved me lots of head problems. I have created so many and then backed them up. This will save me endless time being wasted. Your one of our great tech and coaches in this industry. WIth so many only focusing on how fast to accomplish something. These important steps get lost along the way. This is greatly neede, Kim. I can’t wait for the next exciting find of yours. You keep me going, I am smiling right now! Thanks Kim.

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Kim Castleberry January 20, 2012 at 12:34 am

William, you have been the most persistant person with the number of hassles you’ve had with your own blog. The way you keep bouncing back is remarkable (although I’d love to figure out what keeps going amiss for you so you can get some stability out here!) Backups are absolutely essential and it’s hard to stress them enough. Yet with some folks I seem to need to shout them from the rooftops (and annoy the people that listen) ya know? Thanks for the smiles and all you do!
Kim

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Amanda January 19, 2012 at 4:29 am

I should admit that it can make me a little bit nervous, but with the help of such helpful articles, as yours, I hope to solve this problem with easiness)

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Anna January 19, 2012 at 5:26 am

Upgrading WordPress IS a tough issue for me right now. I think my theme was not compatible with the new version of WP, so my uggrade did not work. I am using a bunch of plugins too, I’ll check on their compatibility too. Thanks for the tips! I really appreciate them!

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Mandy Swift January 19, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Kim – wordpress updates ALWAYS scare me!!! I have a back-up plugin but it still petrifies me every time I press ‘update’. Maybe I should stop reading so many of your horror stories :)

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Jon Loomer January 19, 2012 at 4:43 pm

Thanks for the info, Kim! What makes me most nervous is updating my theme. It’s a premium theme, and not one of those easy auto-updaters. There are several steps involved, and it freaks me out. I’ve been putting it off for a while now, waiting for a Sunday when traffic is low in case I blow something up.

Otherwise, I have no issues with the Wordpress upgrade!

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Stephane Lacroix January 19, 2012 at 7:11 pm

Great tips Kim, I love the fact that you took the time to give us the low down on some of the Plugins that may cause havoc on our Blogs. New comers to bloggin g may not even be aware of these and find out the hard way when their site is broke. It’s better to be safe then sorry…Right?

Thanks again Kim.

Stephane

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tom buck January 20, 2012 at 1:35 am

backup everthing, files and db, but if you can it’s great to run 2 sites, a live site and a development site. Try things on the development site first then when you’re happy and sure it’s ok make the same changes to the live site. Really easy to roll back any changes on the dev site, just delete and reinstal from the live site. Simplest way is probably to put the dev site on a sub domain, then you only need one hosting account – just remember to hide it from search engines so you don’t get penalised for duplicate content

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Herbert January 20, 2012 at 7:56 am

Thank you for this heads up Kim… This is really helpful since im planning to update my WP version.

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Sire January 22, 2012 at 6:14 am

I reckon I’ll upgrade first, have it all blow upon me and then slap myself sill for not having listened to you Kim ;)
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Mitch Mitchell January 22, 2012 at 10:29 am

Goodness, can’t argue with any of this. Of course I never pay attention, which gets me into trouble here and there. And I do have some plugins that have never updated and I hadn’t even thought about them. Guess it’s time to take a look; great reminder.
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SteveBorgman January 22, 2012 at 9:06 pm

Hi, Kim! This reminds me of a recent problem you helped me out with! I followed these directions, and my blog was up and running as good as new. Thanks for taking the fear out of upgrading! :)

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Kathryn Booth January 23, 2012 at 9:13 am

The constant upgrading this and that is really narrowing down the number of blogs I am working with this year. This a good step by step outline of what to watch for when installing new plugins too. Going with developers that aren’t just dabbling and will more likely keep up with code changes might cost a bit, but it’s a cost of doing business thing.

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Pastor Sherry January 23, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Oh wow, I didn’t do that. Thankfully, the only problem I had was with Clifton’s Comment Responder, which as far as I know, still doesn’t work. I haven’t tried it yet, as I’ve not heard anything from him about it.

Maybe my smooth transition was due to the fact that I only started using plug-ins in 2011!

But I’ll try to keep your advice about old plugins in mind, because sooner or later these will wear out. Thanks, Kim!

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James January 23, 2012 at 4:42 pm

I have had problems with premium plugins, especially those that only give you limited updates. Some, you have to pay for upgrades to keep them compatible, which frankly I find stupid. Some of us don’t have money spewing out of our ears just to keep our plugins up to date. now I look for “free lifetime upgrades” before I spend money on a plugin that may not work in a few months unless I pay for it all over again.

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Lynn Jones January 23, 2012 at 9:51 pm

Excellent post to help us avoid trouble with our WP blog. I hope I remember this about deactivating when updating or upgrading plug ins, because I sure wouldn’t want anything blowing up. Yikes!
Many thanks to you! I appreciate your expertise.
Have a good one,
Lynn

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Nathalie Villeneuve January 25, 2012 at 7:31 am

Hi Kim, Plugin talk makes me a little nervous and I tend to leave this up to Hugh and ask him to look into it. I am getting more interested and willing to learn though. I feel that with good information and tutorial on the subject, anybody can learn this stuff…especially when it means protecting our precious blog and content. Thanks Kim ;)

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Timothy January 30, 2012 at 1:18 am

Your discussion is really a great help for us. There are really times that wp users find it themselves in trouble because of their plugins and their upgrades. At least now, they would be clearly take extra care in choosing the right plugins that could really help them.

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Perry Davis January 30, 2012 at 11:52 am

Hello Kim

I was very nervous when upgrading WordPress until I read your articles. Following what you discussed in your post How To Upgrade WordPress Safely”, calmed my nerves. I followed your suggestion entering the names of my plugins into the WordPress repository -> and checking the last updated (and compatible with what version). Anyone not sure about upgrading should read all your post on upgrading because they clearly explain the process.

Thanks

Perry A Davis Jr
Music City

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Beth Hewitt February 1, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Hi Kim,

This is a really important post and the more bloggers know about this the better. I guess its obvious that 2008 plugins are going to do some damage, but we often overlook stuff like that, so it’s good that you are around.

Love Ya,
Beth :)

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dipendra February 2, 2012 at 3:07 am

Thanks a lot for sharing your experience before we could have got any problem.

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Rosemary O'Shaughnessy February 5, 2012 at 12:32 pm

Hi Kim,

As you are well aware I always appreciate your tips about wordpress and plugins. I watched your video and your instructions were excellent for upgrading a wordpress site. It is always better safe than sorry. I missed your last webinar due to being busy but I will look forward to watching the replay. Take care Rosemary

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Sadie-Michaela Harris February 13, 2012 at 5:41 am

Good advice Kim… hadn’t thought of the abandoned plugins and the hassle they might cause. My CommentLuv Premium has been quirky over the last two weeks seemingly it can’t find the feed. Have you stopped using CLP yourself Kim… Any reason why?

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Kim Castleberry February 13, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Oooops thanks for the headsup! I’m out on the road on vacation and looks like I accidentally disabled it while working in the dashboard! Since I don’t use the WP smartphone app sometimes the screen is a touch fiddly. Appreciate you letting me know Sadie!!
Kim

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Sadie-Michaela Harris February 14, 2012 at 2:50 am

Happy to help and bon vacance! Have an excellent time :)

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Don Petersen February 16, 2012 at 7:24 pm

Kim — This info. is helpful. It reinforces my reluctance to use any non-essential plug-ins *and* to remove 1 – 2 older plug-ins that I believe probably slow my site down. Thanks.

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Kim Castleberry March 1, 2012 at 2:59 am

Hey Don, glad to help. If you want to take a closer look at which plugins might be slowing down your site, you will enjoy this post: http://just-ask-kim.com/wordpress-plugins-site-slow/
Kim

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