From the Well, This Came Out of Left Field Department… After missing the first couple of scheduled release dates for WordPress 5, with the next projected date being sometime in January 2019, it was announced on December 4th that the release date would be… December 6th! That is just all kinds of bad software development management, and many, many people are unhappy about it, me among them. I might write more on why at some point, but for now the important thing is:
Should you update right away?
Short answer: Not if you can help it. I'd give it a week or so, or even until after the holidays if you don't want to be fixing your website rather than spending time with family and friends. (Although I do understand that even among heart-centered business people fixing a broken site might be less stressful than some holiday get-togethers. But I digress. 😉 )
Longer answer: Part of the upset over the rushed release date is that there are many WordPress plugins that aren't yet compatible with version 5, and many more with unknown compatibility. This means there is a greater-than-usual chance that updating WordPress will break your website. Another part of the upset is over the unexpected release just before a major holiday season – as I alluded to above, fixing a broken website isn't how most of us would want to spend our holidays.
How to avoid it:
If you don't have automatic updates enabled on your site, you're golden – you can update at your convenience. If you do have automatic updates enabled, the easiest way to disable them is with the free Easy Updates Manager plugin. Once you have installed and activated it, go to Updates Options in the Dashboard menu. You should see something like this:
For our immediate purposes, we only need to make 1 change:
That's it – good to go!
When you're ready to update:
There's not a lot you need to do when you're ready to update – it's mostly a matter of making sure your plugins are ready for version 5, and that you have at least 1 (and preferably more) good backup of your site. I do recommend installing and activating the Classic Editor plugin, though. (You've probably seen this option when you open your site's Admin Dashboard – you can install and activate from there, or use the link above if needed.) By far the biggest change to WordPress 5 (and the one with by far the largest number of issues) is the new “Gutenberg” Block Editor. The Classic Editor plugin is the official way to keep the old editor for pages and posts intact, which should help with other plugin compatibility issues.
Once you've installed and updated the Classic Editor plugin, confirmed that your other plugins are updated and compatible with WordPress 5, and made extra sure you have at least 1 good backup of your entire site, you can either set Easy Updates Manager back to the Default setting for Automatic Updates, or just disable Easy Updates Manager altogether. Then, update WordPress and check over your website for any problems.
If you have any questions or are looking for help, feel free to Contact me!