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How To Do a Major WordPress Update Without Killing Your Site

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When you update Wordpress be on the lookout for a major update. These can kill your website. Your layout can break, plugins can stop working, and you might even get the dreaded white screen of death! What is a major update, anyway, and how can we update WordPress safely?

It’s usually an excellent idea to update WordPress. After all, it’s an important part of keeping your website secure and running well.

The danger comes with major updates to WordPress. These updates bring significant changes in how the core of WordPress works. They can break themes and plugins and leave your website a total mess if you aren’t careful.

What Is a Major Update?

A major update is something that makes fundamental changes to the way the software operates, adds new features, and adds or removes files from the underlying codebase.

It’s these major changes that can cause problems. If WordPress makes major changes to its core files and a theme or plugin author isn’t keeping up, then your site could end up broken.

Version Numbering

Like most software, WordPress and its plugins use numbers to keep track of the software versions as they’re produced.  At the time of writing, the current version number for WordPress is 5.4.2.

WordPress Versioning

The core of WordPress does things a little differently than other software, including WordPress plugins. The first two numbers in the sequence together denote a major update, not just the first number by itself.  From the WordPress documentation:

“A major WordPress version is dictated by the first two sequences. For example, 3.5 is a major release. So is 3.6, 3.7, all the way up to 4.0. Version 4.0 is no different than 3.9 and 4.1. There isn’t a “WordPress 3” or “WordPress 4” – we’re weird like that for historical reasons.”


“A release, identified by the first two numbers (3.6), which is the focus of a full release cycle and feature development. WordPress uses decimaling count for major release versions, so 2.8, 2.9, 3.0, and 3.1 are sequential and comparable in scope.”

How Do I know What Version I’m On?

WordPress "At a Glance" widget in the admin area showing current and available WordPress versions.
“At a Glance” WordPress Admin Widget.
This site is several major versions behind.

To know if you’re facing a major update, you need to know what version you’re currently on.  This should be trivial, but most of the places where you’d go to look at your version number only show it when you’re on the latest version.  Otherwise, you’ll see a prompt to upgrade instead with no clue if this is a major update or not.

The one place that’s usually reliable is in your admin area.  Look for a box titled “At a Glance” like the one above. It’ll show you what version you’re on and a button with the latest version number if an update is available.

Wait a Minute

If you do have a major update available, wait before updating.  Get ready first.

Quite often, there’ll be a bug fix release a few weeks after the major update.  I recommend to my clients that they wait for this release to come out before upgrading. At the time of writing, the next major release of WordPress will be 5.5, so I recommend waiting until version 5.5.1 comes out before doing the update.

Example: WordPress version 5.0 came out on Dec 6, 2018. Version 5.0.1 came out 6 days later and 5.0.2 came out 7 days after that.  Between those two subsequent versions, more than 80 bugs were fixed!

You can view the WordPress changelog here.

Make a Backup

UpdraftPlus backups admin screen

Before doing any updates, I always recommend making a backup of WordPress files and the database.  You must get both; the files are useless without the database and vice versa.

I use the UpdraftPlus plugin to do this. I set up UpdraftPlus to automatically backup my site to off-site storage. While I pay for UpdraftPlus, the free version will do this too. Offsite backups also protect me should anything ever happen to my hosting provider. 

Pro Tip: Before doing anything else make sure you have backups in place and know how to restore from them. If you’re not sure, install UpdraftPlus and make a backup before doing any updates.

UpdraftPlus also provides instructions on how to restore from a backup in case things go sideways on you.

Another great option is a service like VaultPress.  This is a premium service that’ll also make regular off-site backups for you.

Your hosting provider may also be making regular backups for you.  Double-check to make sure and make sure you know how to restore from a backup or where to get help if needed.

You can also use FTP to download all of your files and phpMyAdmin (or equivalent) to get a copy of your database. This is a little advanced for this article, so search Google if you’d like to learn more.

Get Prepared

Before doing a major WordPress update, update all the plugins first. 

This is crucial.  Good plugin developers will make changes ahead of a major release to prepare for it.  Updating the plugins first can save you from a world of hurt.

The same is true for your themes. Make sure that they’re updated as well.  Select the themes you wish to update and click on the Update Themes button.

WordPress admin screen showing theme update available.
Select your themes then hit Update

If you’re using a premium theme from ThemeForest then you’ll need to update it using one of the methods described here.

Pro Tip: Have a look at your pages, posts, membership areas, your shopping cart, any calendars, etc.  Use a desktop and a phone to look at your site.  Take a screengrab of your various page types. The goal here is to make sure that you have the “before” view of your site in mind.

Do it!

WordPress admin screen showing that an update of WordPress is available.
Once you’re ready, update WordPress

Now it’s time. Do the update by clicking on the button on the WordPress Updates screen.  Your site will go into maintenance mode for a few moments while the update takes place.

Review the site again to make sure everything is working. If you’re not sure that everything is right, refer to the screen grabs you took earlier. Make sure to try your contact forms and make a test purchase if you have a store.

What About Automatic Updates?

This all seems like a lot of work, and many hosting providers will do automatic updates for you. 

It sounds easy, shouldn’t you just do that?

Toy tin robot
Thoughtless tin robot…

The problem with automatic updates is that they’re thoughtless. Updates are applied as soon as they are available, whether or not your plugins or themes are ready.  They can, and do, easily break WordPress websites.

Automatic updates will break your site without you knowing because you’re not even there to notice any problems.  It’s not uncommon for a site to be messed up for days before the owner notices, and it’s oftentimes because a client told them.  Panic time!


It seemed like this was a lot of work to do the upgrade.  It kind of was if you had to get backups in place first.  Once you’ve done this once or twice, it’ll go much smoother.

The good news is that you now have the confidence to do this the right way!  You know how to be thoughtful about updates and what steps to take to ensure success.

P.S. If you’d rather not have to mess with any of this, I do have WordPress Maintenance Plans available. I manually update WordPress sites in this thoughtful manner, and I automatically take care of any issues depending on the plan you choose.

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Privacy Policy

Welcome to our Privacy Policy, it was last updated on September 21, 2021.

We are Endolyne Technology Services LLC, d.b.a Invouq. Our website address is https://www.invouq.com.

You can reach us by email at hello@invouq.com and via postal mail at:
P.O. Box 47172
Seattle, WA 98146

It is our policy to respect your privacy regarding any information we may collect while operating our website. This Privacy Policy applies to https://www.invouq.com (hereinafter, “us”, “we”, or “https://www.invouq.com”). We respect your privacy and are committed to protecting personally identifiable information you may provide us through the Website. We have adopted this privacy policy (“Privacy Policy”) to explain what information may be collected on our Website, how we use this information, and under what circumstances we may disclose the information to third parties. This Privacy Policy applies only to information we collect through the Website and does not apply to our collection of information from other sources.

This Privacy Policy, together with the Terms of service posted on our Website, set forth the general rules and policies governing your use of our Website. Depending on your activities when visiting our Website, you may be required to agree to additional terms of service.

Website Visitors

Like most website operators, we collect non-personally-identifying information of the sort that web browsers and servers typically make available, such as the browser type, language preference, referring site, and the date and time of each visitor request. Our purpose in collecting non-personally identifying information is to better understand how our visitors use our website. From time to time, we may release non-personally-identifying information in the aggregate, e.g., by publishing a report on trends in the usage of our Website.

We also collect potentially personally-identifying information like Internet Protocol (IP) addresses for visitors making a purchase, taking a course, opting-in to receive emails, leaving a message, creating an account, and for users leaving comments on https://www.invouq.com blog posts. We only disclose IP addresses under the same circumstances that we use and disclose Personal Data as described below.

Gathering of Personally-Identifying Information (Personal Data)

Certain visitors to our websites choose to interact with us in ways that require us to gather Personal Data. The amount and type of information that we gather depend on the nature of the interaction. For example, we ask visitors to provide their name and email address or process a sale or in exchange for valuable information and resources. We may ask for address information if we need to deliver a physical product to you. You may also voluntarily provide information such as your address in your account area should you choose to do so. Personal Data may include, but is not limited to: Email address, Name, Address, State, Province, ZIP/Postal code, City, Cookies, and Usage Data.

For users that register on our website (if any), we also store the personal information they provide in their user profile. All registered users can see, edit, or delete their personal information at any time (except they cannot change their username). Website administrators can also see and edit that information.

Children’s Privacy

Our Service does not address anyone under the age of 18 (“Children”). We do not knowingly collect Personal Data from anyone under the age of 18. If you are a parent or guardian and you are aware that your Children has provided us with Personal Data, please contact us. If we become aware that we have collected Personal Data from children without verification of parental consent, we take steps to remove that information from our servers.

Legal Basis for Processing Personal Data Under General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

If you are from the European Economic Area (EEA), our legal basis for collecting and using the Personal Data described in this Privacy Policy depends on the data we collect and the specific context in which we collect it.

We may process your Personal Data because:

  • We need to perform a contract with you
  • You have given us permission to do so
  • The processing is in our legitimate interests and it’s not overridden by your rights
  • For payment processing purposes
  • To comply with the law

Your Data Protection Rights Under General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

If you are a resident of the European Economic Area (EEA), you have certain data protection rights. We aim to take reasonable steps to allow you to correct, amend, delete, or limit the use of your Personal Data. If you wish to be informed of what Personal Data we hold about you and if you want it to be removed from our systems, please contact us.

In certain circumstances, you have the following data protection rights:

  • The right to access, update or to delete the information we have on you.
  • The right of rectification. You have the right to have your information rectified if that information is inaccurate or incomplete.
  • The right to object. You have the right to object to our processing of your Personal Data.
  • The right of restriction. You have the right to request that we restrict the processing of your personal information.
  • The right to data portability. You have the right to be provided with a copy of your Personal Data in a structured, machine-readable and commonly used format.
  • The right to withdraw consent. You also have the right to withdraw your consent at any time where we relied on your consent to process your personal information.

Please note that we may ask you to verify your identity before responding to such requests.

You have the right to complain to a Data Protection Authority about our collection and use of your Personal Data. For more information, please contact your local data protection authority in the European Economic Area (EEA).

“Do Not Sell My Personal Information” Notice for California consumers under California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)

Under the CCPA, California consumers have the right to:

  • Request that a business that collects a consumer’s personal data disclose the categories and specific pieces of personal data that a business has collected about consumers.
  • Request that a business deletes any personal data about the consumer that a business has collected.
  • Request that a business that sells a consumer’s personal data, not sell the consumer’s personal data.

If you make a request, we have 30 days to respond to you. If you would like to exercise any of these rights, please contact us.


We use Google Analytics to monitor and analyze the use of our Service. Google Analytics is a web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic. Google uses the data collected to track and monitor the use of our Service. This data is shared with other Google services. Google may use the collected data to contextualize and personalize the ads of its own advertising network.

You can opt-out of having made your activity on the Service available to Google Analytics by installing the Google Analytics opt-out browser add-on. The add-on prevents the Google Analytics JavaScript (ga.js, analytics.js, and dc.js) from sharing information with Google Analytics about visits activity. For more information on the privacy practices of Google, please visit the Google Privacy & Terms web page: https://policies.google.com/privacy

We use the Universal Analytics version of Google Analytics and IP addresses are automatically anonymized under our configuration. Your IP address will be shortened by Google within the European Union or other parties to the Agreement on the European Economic Area prior to transmission to the United States. Only in exceptional cases is the full IP address sent to a Google server in the US and shortened there. Google will use this information on our behalf to evaluate your use of the website, to compile reports on website activity, and to provide other services regarding website activity and Internet usage for us. The IP address transmitted by your browser as part of Google Analytics will not be merged with any other data held by Google.

We use Google Analytics’ enhanced reporting feature. This feature measures page views, scrolls, outbound clicks, site search, video engagement, and file downloads. This collected data cannot be attributed to any specific individual person.

Google Analytics will collect visitation information and associate it with Google information from accounts of signed-in users who have consented to this association for the purpose of ads personalization. This Google information may include end user location, search history, YouTube history, and data from sites that partner with Google—and is used to provide aggregated and anonymized insights into our users’ cross device behaviors.  You can control and edit the data Google captures about your activity here.

We use Google Analytics’ demographic features. This allows reports to be generated containing statements about the age, gender, and interests of site visitors. This data comes from interest-based advertising from Google and third-party visitor data. This collected data cannot be attributed to any specific individual person. You can disable this feature at any time by adjusting the ads settings in your Google account or you can forbid the collection of your data by Google Analytics as described above.

Google reCAPTCHA

We use “Google reCAPTCHA” (hereinafter “reCAPTCHA”) on our website. This service is provided by Google Inc., 1600 Amphitheater Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043, USA (“Google”). reCAPTCHA is used to check whether the data entered on our website (such as on a contact form) has been entered by a human or by an automated program. To do this, reCAPTCHA analyzes the behavior of the website visitor based on various characteristics. This analysis starts automatically as soon as the website visitor enters the website. For the analysis, reCAPTCHA evaluates various information (e.g. IP address, how long the visitor has been on the website, or mouse movements made by the user). The data collected during the analysis will be forwarded to Google. The reCAPTCHA analyses take place completely in the background. Website visitors are not advised that such an analysis is taking place. We have a legitimate interest in protecting our site from abusive automated crawling and spam. For more information about Google reCAPTCHA and Google’s privacy policy, please visit the following links: https://policies.google.com/privacy and https://www.google.com/recaptcha/intro/v3.html.

Google Web Fonts

For a uniform representation of fonts, this page uses web fonts provided by Google. When you open a page, your browser loads the required web fonts into your browser cache to display texts and fonts correctly. For this purpose, your browser has to establish a direct connection to Google servers. Google thus becomes aware that our web page was accessed via your IP address. The use of Google Web fonts is done in the interest of a uniform and attractive presentation of our website. If your browser does not support web fonts, a standard font is used by your computer. Further information about handling user data, can be found at https://developers.google.com/fonts/faq and in Google’s privacy policy at https://www.google.com/policies/privacy/.


We provide paid products and/or services and we use third-party services for payment processing (e.g. payment processors). We will not store or collect your payment card details. That information is provided directly to our third-party payment processors whose use of your personal information is governed by their Privacy Policy. These payment processors adhere to the standards set by PCI-DSS as managed by the PCI Security Standards Council, which is a joint effort of brands like Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover. PCI-DSS requirements help ensure the secure handling of payment information. The payment processors we work with are:


The security of your personal information is important to us, but remember that no method of transmission over the Internet, or method of electronic storage is 100% secure. While we strive to use commercially acceptable means to protect your personal information, we cannot guarantee its absolute security.

Links To External Sites

Our Service may contain links to external sites that are not operated by us. If you click on a third party link, you will be directed to that third party’s site. We strongly advise you to review the Privacy Policy and Terms of Service of every site you visit.

We have no control over, and assume no responsibility for the content, privacy policies or practices of any third party sites, products or services.

Embedded Content From Other Websites

Pages on this site may include embedded content (e.g. videos, images, articles, etc.). Embedded content from other websites behaves in the exact same way as if the visitor has visited the other website.

These websites may collect data about you, use cookies, embed additional third-party tracking, and monitor your interaction with that embedded content, including tracking your interaction with the embedded content if you have an account and are logged in to that website.

We Use Google AdWords, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest for Remarketing

We use the remarketing services, and related technologies such as cookies, pixels and web beacons, to advertise on third party websites (including Google, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest) to advertise to previous visitors to our site. It could mean that we advertise to previous visitors who haven’t completed a task on our site, for example using the contact form to make an inquiry. This could be in the form of an advertisement on the Google search results page, on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, or a site in the Google Display Network or Facebook Ad Network. Third-party vendors, including Google, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest use cookies to serve ads based on someone’s past visits. Of course, any data collected will be used in accordance with our own privacy policy and the privacy policies of Google, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

You have options to opt-out and set preferences for advertising cookies on this and all websites:

Protection of Certain Personal Data Information

We disclose potentially personally-identifying data and Personal Data only to those of our employees, contractors and affiliated organizations that (i) need to know that information in order to process it on our behalf or to provide services available at our website, and (ii) that have agreed not to disclose it to others. Some of those employees, contractors, and affiliated organizations may be located outside of your home country; by using our website, you consent to the transfer of such information to them. We will not rent or sell potentially personally-identifying data and Personal Data to anyone. Other than to our employees, contractors, and affiliated organizations, as described above, we disclose potentially personally-identifying data and Personal Data only in response to a subpoena, court order or other governmental (e.g. a court, a government agency or a law enforcement agency) request, or when we believe in good faith that disclosure is reasonably necessary to protect the property or rights of us, third parties or the public at large.

Marketing Emails

If you have provided us your email address, we may occasionally send you an email to tell you about new features, solicit your feedback, or just keep you up to date with what’s going on with us and to tell you about our products and services (Marketing Emails). You can unsubscribe from Marketing Emails at any time by using the unsubscribe link included at the bottom of each email message or by contacting us. Data we have stored for other purposes (e.g. email addresses for your account and/or courses) remain unaffected. Your personally-identifying data and Personal Data is shared with MailerLite for this purpose. MailerLite’s privacy policy is located here. https://www.mailerlite.com/legal/privacy-policy

Affiliate Disclosure

This site uses affiliate links and does earn a commission from certain links. This does not affect your purchases or the price you may pay.


To enrich and perfect your online experience, we use “Cookies”, similar technologies and services provided by others to display personalized content, appropriate advertising, to allow our courses, web store and shopping cart to work, and store your preferences on your computer.

A cookie is a string of information that a website stores on a visitor’s computer, and that the visitor’s browser provides to the website each time the visitor returns. We use cookies to help us identify and track visitors, their usage of https://www.invouq.com, and their website access preferences. Any visitors who do not wish to have cookies placed on their computers should set their browsers to refuse cookies before using our websites, with the drawback that certain features of our websites may not function properly without the aid of cookies.

By continuing to navigate our website without changing your cookie settings, you hereby acknowledge and agree to our use of cookies.


Those who engage in transactions with us – by purchasing our services or products, are asked to provide additional information, including as necessary the personal and financial information required to process those transactions. In each case, we collect such information only insofar as is necessary or appropriate to fulfill the purpose of the visitor’s interaction with us. We do not disclose personally-identifying information other than as described below. And visitors can always refuse to supply personally-identifying information, with the caveat that it may prevent them from engaging in certain website-related activities.

Business Transfers

If we or substantially all of our assets are acquired, or in the unlikely event that we go out of business or enter bankruptcy, user information would be one of the assets that are transferred to or acquired by a third party. You acknowledge that such transfers may occur and that any acquirer may continue to use your personal information as set forth in this policy.

Privacy Policy Changes

We may change this Privacy Policy from time to time, and in our sole discretion. We encourage visitors to frequently check this page for any changes to our Privacy Policy. Your continued use of this site after any change in this Privacy Policy will constitute your acceptance of such change.