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How to disable automatic updates in WordPress

Is it worth turning automatic WordPress updates off?
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1. Introduction

More often than not, people gravitate towards WordPress hosting because all of your WordPress updates are managed and automatically done for you. Sometimes, WordPress can apply automatic updates to your website as well as plugins, themes, etc.

Whilst this is often a benefit, due to security reasons, updates can sometimes cause issues with your website and in some cases entirely break it.

Some people prefer to manage their own WordPress updates, which is why I’ve created this article to show you how to disable automatic updates in WordPress.

2. Why does WordPress automatically update?

As I mentioned earlier, WordPress updates for security purposes. In some cases, plugins or themes receive updates to reduce the risk of potential issues or vulnerabilities.

If lots of people are using the same theme, and a potential threat occurs, WordPress may decide to push out an automatic update to remove the risks.

However, you can decide whether or not you want to install most updates, and you can turn off the option to automatically update WordPress.

I personally wouldn’t recommend turning off automatic WordPress updates, though I do understand why people choose to. There are rare situations when updates can break your website, removing certain functionality from your site, or making it impossible for visitors or customers to use your website.

If you have experience in updating your WordPress website manually, you may choose to disable automatic updates.

3. Pros and Cons of Automatic WordPress Updates

Although I recommend keeping automatic WordPress update on, we know there are some situations that may benefit from having them turned off.

It’s entirely up to you whether you want to do this or not, so before I show you how, I want to discuss the pros and cons of automatic WordPress updates with you.

Pros:

  • Automatic updates are designed to ensure your WordPress website is secure. Lots of people tend to forget to update their website, so automatic updates remove this risk
  • If a minor update is released to WordPress, automatic updates mean you won’t have to worry or remember to update your website
  • Most automatic WordPress updates are free for all WordPress users. Previously, you had to pay for managed WordPress hosting to be eligible for certain updates.
  • If you are busy or away from your computer, automatic WordPress updates ensure your WordPress website is updated to the latest version
  • If you have multiple WordPress websites, automatic updates can save you a lot of time and hassle
 
Cons:
 
  • Some WordPress updates can break your website, though in most cases, this doesn’t happen with minor releases
  • On rare occasions, WordPress may push an automatic update out for a theme you are using, which can break your website. This tends to happen more so if you modify your WordPress theme files

4. How to Disable Automatic WordPress Updates with a Plugin

The easiest and quickest way to disable automatic WordPress updates is by installing a plugin. My personal preference is the Easy Updates Manager plugin, which has 300,000+ active installations.

Once you’ve downloaded and activated the plugin, you’ll need to go to Dashboard » Updates Options in order to configure the settings correctly.

Here you can choose to Disable all updates. However, this will stop any update notifications reaching you, so I would recommend the following.

By choosing your own settings, you can select which updates automatically occur. For example, you may want to disable plugin and theme updates, but leave core updates to ensure your website remains secure.

Remember: If you Disable plugin updates and Disable theme updates rather than Disable auto-updates, you won’t see any update notifications.

The reason why I love the Easy Updates Manager plugin is that you can actually see a log of what’s been updated and when. If an update does cause your website to break, you can rollback to a previous version.

In order to view your logs, simply go to Dashboard » Updates Options » Logs to view your logs in one place. If you wish, you can clear your logs, but I wouldn’t recommend this.

5. How to Disable Automatic WordPress Updates Using wp-config

If you don’t want to use a plug, you can disable automatic WordPress updates in your wp-config file. I would only recommend this option to advanced WordPress users who understand how to safely edit the wp-config file in WordPress.

Disabling all automatic WordPress updates:

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define( 'WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE', false );
 
 

Disabling automatic WordPress plugin updates:

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add_filter( 'auto_update_plugin', '__return_false' );
 
 

Disabling automatic WordPress theme updates:

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add_filter( 'auto_update_theme', '__return_false' );

6. Conclusion

If you want to disable automatic WordPress updates, that’s entirely up to you. The reason I wrote this article is not that I recommend doing this, but to ensure anyone who does want to, can do it safely and correctly.

Automatic updates tend to be harmless to most beginners, and in honesty to most WordPress users, however, some people disagree.

For the small minority of websites that break due to automatic WordPress updates, I hope you now know how to safely turn them off. 

Laura Hemmington

Laura Hemmington

Laura is an enthusiastic technology researcher, writer, and reviewer. She takes pride in her precision and dedication to the hosting market, and is somewhat of a seasoned pro in these realms.

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