The popular web hosting platform BlueHost recently made some updates to their BlueHost WordPress Tools. Some of these changes have caused some confusion and stress for users across the board. We’d like to address them here in the hopes of sparing you from a few hosting-related headaches. While there are detailed descriptions of these changes already available, we’d like to provide a resource that is plainly spelled out and slightly easier to understand.

Recent changes to BlueHost WordPress Tools

The biggest change inside WordPress Tools is that Bluehost has instituted automatic updates on all of its WordPress hosted websites. Updates include plugins, themes and WordPress core files. This may sound like something helpful. The truth is that it has the potential to cause a lot of internal issues and could even take down your website.

Why is Bluehost instituting automatic updates?

As one of the more popular platforms available, WordPress websites have become increasingly targeted by hackers. With more than 74 million websites being powered by WordPress, its popularity is gaining unwanted attention from malicious entities. Bluehost is using automatic updates as a means of fighting this trend.

One of the most effective ways to protect yourself from hackers is to ensure that your WordPress website stays up-to-date. The regular updates that the WordPress CMS requires should only be managed by your web developer or someone who is trained in this content management system. Bluehost, however, is choosing now to do this automatically. We advice that all automatic updates be turned “off” and managed internally. LP Creative Co. offers Managed WordPress Hosting and WordPress support on a monthly retainer in each of our Web Care plans.  Our web care plans are ideal for businesses who need us to handle all of their technical and development needs.

Why are automatic updates a problem?

If updates are happening automatically, this means that an upgrade will happen as soon as one is made available. This also means that they will happen regardless of whether the other files are ready for them. If your Plugins aren’t compatible with the latest WordPress core files, it’s highly probable that some piece of your website is going to break.

Think of your website as a patient who depends on multiple doctors for different prescriptions. There’s a delicate balance when combining treatments… similar to the balance present when combining different plugins and themes. If the timing gets altered… you’re looking at a system crash.

What can you do about it?

Luckily, you’ve got a couple of options.

  1. You can log-in to your BlueHost account, and turn off automatic updates in the the WordPress tools panel. This will protect your site from incompatibilities and unnecessary crashes. You must remember, however, to update your WordPress website on a regular basis in order to keep it secure. If you do not feel comfortable managing these types of updates, we recommend signing up for one of our Web Care Plans. We provide regular updates to your WordPress website including daily off-site secure backups and training tutorials.
  2. You can keep the automatic updates… but stay vigilant. A crash doesn’t always happen in the form of a full-scale loss of site-function. Sometimes certain plugins like contact forms or subscription widgets will malfunction, while the rest of the site chugs on like nothing is wrong. Create a list for yourself that allows you to quickly check through all portions of your website to ensure that everything is up and running, and that you’re not missing out on business.

It’s not all doom and gloom!

Along with the update changes, Bluehost has introduced a feature called “WordPress Tools,” which can be accessed from the cPanel within your Bluehost account.
In addition to providing a simpler place to perform updates, WordPress Tools makes it incredibly easy to backup your website should you lose your files. The backup would be stored within your Bluehost account, so it’s still important to backup your site elsewhere should you experience a hack.

LP Creative Co. offers WordPress Support

We’ve done our best to boil this topic down to the basics. If you’re still overwhelmed or confused, please don’t hesitate to ask us for help. We’re invested in the success of your website, and are ready to provide you with the support you need.

If you’re interested in a more detailed account of this topic, please visit this Bluehost affiliate post.