Why you always need to update your website
It’s Monday again and thought I could outline why you need to make sure your website is up to date. This article uses Content Management Systems aka CMS’s as an example since these platforms can be extended by 3rd party or even official modules, plugins or extensions depending on which platforms we are talking about. These modules, plugins or extensions allow you to add additional functionality to your website which of course is very cool, but why should I update or even care to update you ask? Here is a list of just a few reasons why.
1. Fix Bugs
When an update to a Content Management System comes there are very few cases where that update does not contain a bug fix. Code is written by humans and humans make mistakes either minor mistakes or major ones. Either way they happen and in some cases they are just that, mistakes, without malicious intentions. Updates fix problems that the developers themselves find or that users report via e-mail or a support forum
2. Maintain Security
As I mentioned in the previous paragraph humans make mistakes. In some cases, these mistakes have major consequences, for example, a bug could cause an issue where sensitive data like passwords may be obtained by a skilled hacker or just a novice tech enthusiast that knows how to read a vulnerability report that a company may issue. Some researchers even publish the way you can reproduce the issue as a proof of concept after an update which fixes the problem is released. Did you notice the word after in bold? Well, there’s a reason I did that. Assuming you never update your modules, plugins or extensions you are always going to be vulnerable to that discovered issue just because you never update anything. Another important thing to think about is using nulled modules, plugins or extensions. Nulled refers to premium modules, plugins or extensions that have been modified so that you can use them without paying for them. Having nulled modules, plugins or extensions installed on your site may seem cool because you saved money but since it has been modified by a person that knows how to code, you the user, just don’t know what he or she may have added to that module, plugin or extension. Is he or she also logging passwords? Is he or she using your server resources to mine bitcoin or just to distribute malware to the visitors/clients of your website? In case you are wondering what, my point is, here goes “Never ever use nulled modules, plugins or extensions” no matter what.
3. Add Features and Functionality
Updates may come with security fixes but in most cases, they also add new features and functionality to the modules, plugins or extensions. When there’s a large community using a module, plugin or extension the developer is inspired by the needs of that community and may decide to add the most requested feature or features in an update.
4. Speed up your site
This point is a bit more technical that the previous ones but bear with me here because this is an important one. As you may or may not know most content management systems like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and many more use technologies like PHP. PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor (or simply PHP) is a server-side scripting language designed for Web development, but also used as a general-purpose programming language. This is basically what the system uses to make all your data dynamic. Now the reason I even dare to mention it is because I want to prove a point. Most Hosting Companies allow you to choose the PHP version you would like to use. Most companies have PHP 5.6.x as their default. Just as an F.Y.I. we are currently at version 7.2.x and just like any piece of software PHP7 has been enhanced in many ways when you compare it to PHP5. One noticeable enhancement is that WordPress on PHP 7.1: it’s 200% faster than WordPress on PHP 5.6. I leave it up to you look for the stats that prove that online. I worked on an old e-commerce WordPress website this week and switched it to PHP7 and there’s a very noticeable difference on the same exact server.
5. Better Compatibility
As I said before, updating modules, plugins or extensions brings new featured functionality, but you need to keep in mind that you also need to keep the core Content Management System up to date so that you can tap into the new features of the system itself. Also updating just, the modules, plugins or extensions isn’t enough because most new features included with modules, plugins or extensions depend on new APIs added within the core of your Content Management System. So, you need to keep core updated as well.
If these tasks seem daunting, get someone to handle them for you. By someone I mean an actual professional. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org