You probably know that WordPress automatically updates your site – including themes and plugins – from time to time. While there’s a ton of benefits of automatic updates and developers and testers always do their best to not have this happening , there’s a slight chance they can break your website.
Automatic updates were introduced with the 3.7 version, in an effort to increase the security measures. If you’re one of millions of users who have Yoast SEO plugin installed, your site is updated every week automatically, without any notifications whatsoever.
While by default not all of these updates are automatic, WordPress can carry out 4 auto-updates: theme updates, plugins updates, translation files updates, and core updates. WordPress is set up by default to carry out minor core updates and translation file updates. It also has the possibility of auto-updating certain plugins or themes in extreme security related cases.
How to Disable Automatic Updates Using Code
In order to completely disable automatic updates, you just need to insert a short snippet of code. You need to download a FTP client and edit the wp-config.php file on your computer. Needless to say, before making any changes, you should backup your site.
If you want to disable the core WordPress updates, simply start your FTP client, and add this line of code:
define( 'WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE', false );
Keep in mind that is good practice to always comment the new code added in. For example, above the code below is a line of comment that will explain what does that code do.
On the other hand, if you want, if you only want major and development updates disabled, you should add this line of code instead:
/* Allow only minor WordPress updates */ define( 'WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE', minor );
By using the code above, your site will update the core software for small bug fixes and security updates. It won’t, however, automatically update to any major release.
In our opinion, this is a good compromise, since you’re allowing fixes that protect your site from malware and cyber-attacks and stopping major updates that may mess your site up. This way, you won’t run into a scenario where something crucial gets broken due to an update.
If you already have them turned off and want to turned them back on you should use the following code:
define( 'WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE', true );
Bonus: Disabling Automatic Theme and Plugin Updates
While the code above disables software updates, it won’t stop your themes and plugins from updating. Before we move on, we should mention that WordPress rarely updates its themes and plugins. In most cases, WordPress forces an update in case of a major security vulnerability.
! This means you should be careful before disabling automatic theme and plugin updates.
Nonetheless, if you still want to proceed, here are the lines of code you need to use:
In order to disable theme updates, use this line of code in the functions.php file of your theme:
add_filter( 'auto_update_theme', '__return_false' );
In order to disable plugin updates, just use the following filter in the functions.php file of your plugin:
add_filter( 'auto_update_plugin', '__return_false' );
Of course, you can always get more detailed. For instance, you can choose to disable updates on specific themes and plugins you’ve installed. You can find the explanation of this method on the WordPress Codex site.
To do it the other way around and enable automatic theme updates use this code in the theme’s functions.php file:
add_filter( 'auto_update_theme', '__return_true' );
And this one to enable automatic plugin updates:
add_filter( 'auto_update_plugin', '__return_true' );
How to Disable Automatic Updates Using a Plugin
If you don’t have too much experience with coding or using FTP clients, you can achieve the same results by downloading and installing a simple plugin. While there are many auto-update-disabling plugins out there, we recommend the Easy Updates Manager.
You can download it from the link above, but it’s also listed in at WordPress.org so you can go to your dashboard right away and find it there.
After you activate the plugin, you need to go to Updates Options in order to configure the plugin. The plugin itself has a very clear dashboard, where you can turn all types of updates off.
The first column doesn’t really deal with automatic updates – it actually disables manual updates as well. Therefore, you should leave the first column untouched. If you want to disable only the automatic ones, you should concentrate on the second column.
Here, you’ll be able to disable a number of core updates and decide whether or not you want to disable theme and plugin updates. You just need to click the switch on/off buttons besides the updates you want disabled, and voilà, you’re done.
How to Disable Email Notifications
If you are looking to disable the email notifications you receive each time an update is completed, you are in luck as this is what we’ll talk about next. These email notifications are usually sent out when an update was successfully completed, when WordPress tried to update but could not, or when there was a critical failure.
To stop receiving these emails go to your theme’s functions.php file and add this code:
apply_filters( 'auto_core_update_send_email', false, $type, $core_update, $result );
To reverse the change replace the code above with this one:
apply_filters( 'auto_core_update_send_email', true, $type, $core_update, $result );
Pros and Cons of Having Auto-Updates
Let’s start with the advantages:
- One less thing to worry about
- Keeps your website secure and up to date
- Bug fixes
- Improvements and new features
For the disadvantages we have:
- It overrides changes and edits you might have made to the theme/plugin’s files
- Incompatibility with other plugins or the theme
Like we said before, you shouldn’t disable automatic updates on a whim. Keep in mind, if you do this, you’ll have to manually update your software if you want to stay safe. If you’re running your site on outdated software, you’re leaving a huge security hole for all hackers out there to exploit.
However, if you manage to stay on top of updates and do everything manually, you’ll do fine. Disabling these updates is actually a good way of staying in control and ensuring that nothing breaks in case of an unexpected change.