WordPress Software Sees Its First Auto-Update – Thoughts & Notes

January 25, 2014 · 20 comments

in WordPress

WordPress Software Sees Its First Auto-Update – Thoughts & Notes

wordpress logoHello Automatic 

You may have noticed that WordPress 3.8.1 has arrived this week!

It brought with it 31 important bug fixes and security updates. You can see those here .

This is what’s known as an minor update (meaning small but not unimportant) and you can identify that by seeing that it is the third number in the sequence.

You MAY have gotten an email from your WordPress installation that it auto-updated to 3.8.1 for you!

Cool beans!

This auto-update for minor/incremental updates became a feature back in version 3.7 but this is the first time we’ve seen them occur.

Some people do not like this feature – but all in all you will find that minor updates rarely break stuff – and most of the time they contain big security patches that are needed “right now”.

Once you get the email – go over to your site and ensure that everything is still operational.

auto-upgrade-happyhomemagIt’s highly recommended that you use an automatic/scheduled backup tool so that your backups are occuring regularly since now your minor updates are occurring regularly too. I highly recommend BackupBuddy

If your website has not yet updated itself automatically – don’t panic! Many sites are still lagging behind and we are not sure why. (This includes a couple of mine.) Dev team will probably comment soon.  You can either wait a week and see if it sorts itself out automatically or go ahead and update. (Always wait a week with major releases though, they are more likely to cause conflicts than minor releases are.)

If yours does not autoupdate and you want to be sure it’s not your configurations, check out the background update tester . 

background-update-testerThere are many – mostly personal – reasons that you may not want the minor updates to automatically update. 

For most of my readers – disabling this is a bad idea – but if it’s right for you you may want to investigate it. 

If you want to disable WP auto-updates using code or plugins, click here to learn more. However, remember that you must continue staying vigilant about getting the updates applied in a timely manner in the “old fashioned” way then. 

It’s this focus on needing-code that has some WordPress pros upset over this move towards automatic updates .  The system is not-only an opt-out system but an opt-out that is perhaps more complicated than necessary.

So many of my readers are (to some degree rightly) scared of doing updates and that means that they leave their sites sitting vulnerable for way too long. While this will not get them through the more risky major updates (like a jump from 3.8.1 to 3.9), it will help them get needed security patches for the current version they are on as long as they are on the most recent major update. 

Has your WordPress site auto-updated yet? 

Do you love it? Hate it? Let me know in the comments below!

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

Ana Hoffman January 25, 2014 at 8:43 pm

I had to manually update mine… Lucky me!


Holly January 25, 2014 at 9:03 pm

I love that it automatically updated! Cause I’m one of those people you talk about who aren’t so comfortable doing them… So for me it’s a bonus… however we’ll see if I run into issues….
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Dr. Erica Goodstone January 26, 2014 at 12:10 am


For me it was a relief to have all my blogs update automatically. That saved me a lot of time and it is making all my blogs more secure. There are a few that I have not visited in quite awhile because it was set up for a specific purpose awhile ago. But if I don’t update those, and they are add on domains, they may affect the other domains that are connected. This was a nice surprise and a relief.


Dr. Erica


Willena Flewelling January 26, 2014 at 2:50 am

Done! Looks like it’s working fine. It’s good to have one less thing to be concerned about. :)

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Marty Diamond January 26, 2014 at 3:17 am

I’m all for it – because like you I find that clients don’t update because they’re scared to do so – and that does leave their site’s very vulnerable. But it does have a rather “big brother” feel to the whole thing
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Tim Bonner January 26, 2014 at 8:39 am

Non of mine auto-updated. I had to do them all manually Kim.

I’ll check out the background tester you shared and see whether there’s anything I’m doing wrong!


Sarupa Shah January 26, 2014 at 10:58 am

I was a bit scared when that message popped up…as updates to WP in the past have been nail biting to will it work or won’t it and will I loose my site for a short while as it is all found again….!
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Dima Al Mahsiri January 26, 2014 at 12:30 pm

Would the automated update cause any harm for our blogs?
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Kim Castleberry February 1, 2014 at 12:31 am

Generally no. However, it is always possible that you might have a plugin that has a conflict that could cause the upgrade to go amiss. This would be the same sort of problem you might run into on a manual update.


Dima Al Mahsiri February 1, 2014 at 4:53 am

Thanks Kim!
So, I guess we need to run a quick check up for both manual and automated updates .
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Sue Bride January 26, 2014 at 5:48 pm

I am pleased about the auto updates as I run and look after a lot of sites for myself and others.Some I do not need to visit regularly so they get neglected update wise.
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Chery Schmidt January 26, 2014 at 5:55 pm

Hey Kim, Yeppers my new site updated all by itself Very Cool! I for one Love It! Does this mean from now on it will do this by itself? Thanks for the wonderful post. Chery :))
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Kim Castleberry January 26, 2014 at 6:05 pm

Only for minor updates, for example from 3.8.1 to 3.8.2 (see it was the third number that changed?) If, however, our next interval is 3.9 (a major update), then no, it will not update itself. There is quite a risk of things breaking in a big jump, so they didn’t make those automatic. Once you upgrade manually to 3.9… then when we update to 3.9.1 it will be automatic. Make sense?


Shelley Alexander January 26, 2014 at 9:20 pm


My site did the auto update and its great! Thanks for all the info about it.
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David Merrill 101 January 27, 2014 at 9:31 am

I’ve seen auto updates on some of my sites, but not all. Of course, I like the hands-off help, but don’t like losing control of what happens on my sites.

Thanks for the tip, Kim, about how we can still do our own updates. I’ll probably do it that way, mostly because I like to have control over my sites. If someone’s gonna break it… let it be me :)
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Alex January 27, 2014 at 1:07 pm

I really didn’t see any difference in my update. Mostly background stuff I suppose.


Kim Castleberry February 1, 2014 at 12:28 am

Yeah Alex, this update was almost all bug fixes and security stuff – stuff that isn’t noticeable to the eye unless you were experiencing one of the bugs.


silviu February 1, 2014 at 3:07 am

Hi Kim,

I do not like the idea of an automatic update. I like to wait for a week and only then update WP manually.

Now, from this posts I understand that the automatic updates will appear only for minor changes. It seems that for important changes they will let you do it manually.

Did I understand correctly?

Have a wonderful day
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Cherrie Bautista February 5, 2014 at 9:13 pm

Yes, mine did auto-update and it was the first time I’ve ever seen it. I panicked the very moment I saw the email and went right ahead to my site. I was able to breath when it was still up and intact, lol. I first hated the idea knowing that the update could easily leave my site broken, but after a few days, I began to realize that if it’s just a minor update that’s going to be automated, then it’s probably no big deal. It is actually doing me a favor having it updated automatically since I’m usually late a by a few weeks getting the updates, especially if it’s a major one. Anyway, seeing that it will take another plugin to disable this feature anyway, I think it’s easier to just get the BackupBuddy instead and have the backups done automatically. I do have my database backed up automatically everyday though and the whole site everytime I update the theme, do you think that’s enough or do I still really need the BackupBuddy?
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Marty Diamond April 27, 2014 at 11:44 pm

I actually liked the autoupdate feature – but I thought it was confusing to have the new version come out just at the point of the auto update – because it left some people wondering whether they needed to update their site with 3.9
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