Here you are, your website is all done, launched and you have a stream of visitors stopping by on a regular basis. Great! That hard work of adding in all these plugins, special themes, some custom code - it's all paying off finally. Then one day you login and there's that yellow upgrade notice. Or a plugin or twenty has an upgrade notice. And now the theme framework has one too.

With all the moving parts in one install, yes that does mean there is an increased risk of something breaking whenever one of those parts gets upgraded. You can mitigate those risks, however.

1) Backup. Every time you upgrade anything, you have to do a backup first. This way, in a worse-case scenario, you can put things back the way they were. Backups are your backup plan. The critical areas are your database(s) and the wp-content folder. How to manually backup wordpress mu.

2) Do your homework. Check the various support forums for each component that needs upgrading and see if there have been any reported problems. Part of lessoning the fear & panic is knowing what to expect, especially the pitfalls.

3) Relax & remain calm. The worst time to upgrade is late at night or when you are in a hurry. Mistakes can be made far more easily then, and if something does go wrong, you're likely to be more stressed & overtired. (unless you work well at night, as some do) If you've made your backups & have support forums threads open in other tabs in your browser, then you know you can manage.

4) Wait. I'm not suggesting to delay critical upgrades indefinitely, but you can usually afford to wait a week when it's more convenient to do upgrades on a number of plugins & themes & core, than spread out. You could spend every other day upgrading something if you clicked the links every time they showed up.

For extra credit: while WordPress & MU make it clickably easy to upgrade from the backend, another skill used in fixing messed up upgrades is knowing how to do them manually. Some of us rarely use the internal upgrade process, preferring manual control. The brief version of this is simply replacing the files on the server with new copies.

  • Mark.
    Posted at 12:54h, 28 April Reply

    Spoiler Alert: The following method is not for the faint of heart. If you’re a little tech savvy and have shell access to your server though, it can and will make your life ridiculously easy once accomplished.

    Build a development copy of your web site using version control such as SVN or GIT. All your work can be done behind the scenes in a safe environment with the ability to roll back if any major problems are encountered. Once the development copy is up to speed and running, just push it directly to the live site with a single command… *pow* site in a box.

    Also if you have a high traffic site, don’t forget to put it into maintenance mode (in a manner other than WPs internal handler) when doing major operations on your files. Using an Apache Redirect or ErrorDocument for this works quite well.

    • andrea
      Posted at 12:59h, 28 April Reply

      Wooot, thanks for the awesome hard-core geekery comment! 🙂

      Some of our newer readers are just getting into MU, and have no experience with server-side apps. This post was for them. next post? Totally for the uber-geeks. 😀

      • Mark.
        Posted at 16:08h, 29 April Reply

        I totally let my pride get the better of me on that one. I *just* finished setting up an infrastructure like that, and I skimmed over the “relax and stay calm” part of your post.

        I’m like a little kid when things work. I’ll try to stay more on topic in the future though!

      • Rick Adlam
        Posted at 18:17h, 02 June Reply

        Thanks for that Andrea. I thought this was a tutorial for people that didn’t know php, not the better boys who do. Whilst its great to share some clever other methods, I like the simple, nd safe and basic.
        I have several wordpress blogs and a few old static sites that I want to upgrade with the features that WordPress 3.0 offers. [The Woothemes navigation contribution,and custom posts and custom taxonomies,] for my mortgage site. BTW, the only reason I know what taxonomies are is because I spent a few months trying to use Drupal.
        WordPress makes it easy for dummies like me.
        So I value your site and your focus. The smart boys have already got the wherewithall to figure things out.
        You keep on writing for the rest of the trailing herd.

  • don
    Posted at 17:16h, 17 May Reply

    Does any, any , anybody know of any automation tools for when one has to do MU upgrades to 100+ sites.

    Or…any step by step tutorials on upgrades.


  • Don
    Posted at 13:11h, 03 June Reply

    Is there nobody can help me with a software package that lets me upgrade 100+ WORDPREEMU sites – AUTOMATION!!!

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