It’s extremely important to keep your website’s software updated, regardless of what was used in which to build it. Whether it was built using WordPress or another content management platform, it is imperative that the software remain updated to the latest versions whenever possible. You will also need to consider any addons or plugins you are using on your website, to make sure that they are also updated. Digging even deeper, there is other underlying software that runs on a hosting server that also needs to remain up-to-date. This article will provide detailed information about what needs to be updated and why it needs to be updated on a regular basis.
Your Website is Software
Just like any other software that runs on your computer, tablet or mobile phone, your website is a collection of software programs and add-ons. Whether your website was designed with WordPress, Joomla or other proprietary software, it is software that needs to be updated on a regular basis.
For example: Your computer has an operating system such as Windows or MacOS installed, as well as a collection of software programs. These programs are what allows your computer to handle the tasks you manage, such as checking email, writing documents, or browsing the internet. From time to time, the software developers will release updates, and they will recommend that you update as soon as possible to help with security, performance and to add new features. Your website, and the software that makes it run, is installed on a computer in a data warehouse; both the computer and your website’s software need to be updated regularly for the same reasons as your own computer, tablet or mobile phone.
Web Hosting Explained
Your web hosting plan is essentially space on a drive installed in a big computer. Your web host is providing that space to you as a lease (hence the monthly or annual payment). Their primary tasks relate to keeping your website available to Internet users all over the world, and basic maintenance of the server computer where your website is located.
Let me be totally clear: A traditional web hosting plan does NOT provide updates to your website’s software. They simply provide you with the space to host your site, where you will maintain it yourself, or hire someone to handle updates for you. Some web hosts will allow you to update the underlying server software (such as PHP) specific to your website, but still, that means you have to update it and troubleshoot to make sure that there are no problems with those updates.
To further clarify, it could be said that a web hosting plan is like purchasing a plot of land; you now have the land available to use, but it is up to you to keep the weeds cleared, build a house, add utility services, etc.
The Reasons Why
The primary reasons why you need to keep your website updated are: security, bug fixes, performance and new features.
Security Is Critical
The most important reason for keeping your website’s software updated is security. As spammers and hackers try to find new ways to attack users of any software, it’s a mission-critical issue to keep all of your software updated to the latest versions. This applies to your computer, tablet, mobile phone and, yes, your website. Entities with malicious intent never stop looking for ways to pierce your website’s armor, whether it be from the frontend of your website, or the server itself.
Software bugs are inevitable. No human can always write perfect code, so sometimes bugs are discovered that need to be fixed quickly. As soon as a conscientious developer discovers or is notified of a bug, he or she will fix it and ship a new version of their software to affected users. It is important that these updates are installed as soon as possible to correct the problems that were discovered. Bugs can range anywhere from simple spelling corrections to conflict resolutions with other software programs. It’s also important that you recognize these bugs when they occur, so you can report them to the developers. Some bugs may be hidden and you may not notice them right away. This is why it is important to have an expert on board that can identify problems when they occur.
Another great reason to keep your software up-to-date is to maintain or increase your website’s loading times. Software developers are always trying to find ways to keep their software running fast and smooth. Regular updates to their software will often contain code changes that help to optimize the software’s tasks and keep things loading quickly.
Having a great web hosting plan in the first place will have a huge impact on your website’s load times. Websites that load quickly are given priority status in search results by Google, Bing and other search engines, so it’s very important to maintain and improve your page loading speed whenever possible.
You wouldn’t want to miss out on new features would you? Even if you are satisfied with the current feature set, it’s always nice to know that software developers are continuously trying to make things better. You might not need those new features now, but you may want them in the future. And since it is recommended that you refresh or redesign your website every 2 or 3 years, it will be nice to make use of those new features when that time comes.
What You Need to Do
You have options when it comes to keeping your website updated. Many folks want to do it themselves because they already have some experience, want to learn new things, or have employees that can handle these tasks. But you may not want the headaches that come along with running your own updates and troubleshooting bugs and other problems. As I said, you have options.
Do It Yourself
As you can see from reading above, there are many pieces to the puzzle when it comes to ongoing website care. If you are comfortable with installing your own updates and addressing issues as they arise, we’ve developed a handy guide to help you. The primary issue I’d like to stress is that you absolutely make sure you stay on top of this.
Download our free guide to better understand how to keep your website safe and learn about the regular maintenance that your website needs to stay secure.
Hire A Professional
Alternatively, you could free yourself from having to deal with the ongoing issues of maintaining your website. You may want to put more focus into your own strengths to improve your business or organization. Hiring a professional will save you time and frustration — both of which cost you money one way or another.
At Harness Media, we can become your web team. With our Website Care Plans, we offer premium web hosting services as well as a number of other features to keep your website safe, secure, fast and — wait for it — updated. We handle all of these tasks and so much more. You want your website to be a positive aspect of your business that brings you more customers, not a frustrating experience that you don’t fully understand. Let us take that heat away from you so you can focus on your strengths.
Click here to learn more about Harness Media’s Website Care Plans.