All you Need to know about Automatic Update of WordPress Themes

For better security and to streamline the update process, automatic background updates has been introduced from WordPress 3.7 onwards. The automatic background updates are of four types – Core Updates, Plugin Updates, Theme Updates and Translation File Updates.The most wonderful thing about WordPress is its’ easy updates. The update is so smooth that the users never realize the process has happened, htis does depend on your web host!

Enabling the WordPress Automatic feature for Themes

Enabling the WordPress Automatic feature for themes is not a complicated procedure. The wp-config.php file needs to be updated with a single line of code.

Add_filter (‘auto_update_theme’, ‘_return_true’);

Once this line of code is added to the config file, WordPress will handle all the updates for the themes. It is to be noted that this code will work only if the themes are downloaded from the WordPress repository. If the theme you are using is a paid theme or a theme from a designer’s site, then this automatic version will not work when there is a new version release.

Other Ways to enable Automatic Update of Themes

The other ways of enabling the Automatic update is through the WordPress Dashboard.

  1. Once the WordPress Dashboard is opened, click on the Appearance option. There will be an option called Themes. Below the themes, there will be notification available for those having updates. By clicking on the Update Now seen below the desired theme, the theme will be updated.

WordPress Dashboard -> Appearance -> Themes -> Update Now

  1. Once the WordPress Dashboard is opened, go to Updates. On the Updates page, there will be notification below the themes that has updates available.

WordPress Dashboard -> Updates -> Update the themes requiring Updates

A Word of Caution

There are many benefits in enabling the automatic update of themes. It is a stable way and also a secure way to manage the WordPress site. But there are some restrictions to it and one may want to disable the automatic updates of WordPress themes if one of the following holds true

  • If customizations are made to the core of WordPress, Automatic updates will override the customizations.
  • If the themes used are third party ones, then there might be some compatibility issue and might eventually result in something really annoying.

When automatic updates are enabled, the updates override any customization done to the theme. This will lead to the loss of all customizations. Hence, in case of customizations, it is highly recommended to manually update the themes.

Overcoming the Update Problem with Child Theme

As earlier mentioned, the automatic updates, when enabled overrides the customization done to the theme. Hence, WordPress always recommends to make customizations by using a child theme. A child theme inherits all the properties and design of the parent theme. Also, during the update process, the parent theme is modified / refreshed, but the child theme is not, thus preserving the design and customization.

Summing Up

Whether you are making a manual update or an automatic update to the theme, it is always recommended to take a backup of the previous version. This applies to both the theme and database. This will not only help in reverting back to the old files in case of some unexpected error but will also spare the headache of losing the customization.