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WordPress updates are critical to keeping your website fast, bug-free, and secure. Staying behind schedule can slow down your website and expose it to many vulnerabilities.

Updating your WordPress application essentials such as core, plugins, and themes are easy with the WordPress admin panel. Still, it can become very tedious if you manage multiple websites or you are a digital agency that periodically manages your clients' website maintenance.

Executing updates is also not enough. You must manually check your website for errors because performance-related and version incompatibility issues are prevalent, which can drain your time and resources.

What is SafeUpdates

Cloudways has introduced SafeUpdates to help you automate your WordPress updates and streamline the maintenance process smoothly. SafeUpdates helps you automatically detect, test, and deploy updates error-free. From update detection to rigorous testing and safe deployment, SafeUpdates is a complete package to simplify your workflow and make website maintenance more manageable.

You can update your WordPress application essentials on-demand with SafeUpdates, but the true potential can be unleashed by scheduling the automatic updates, so they are timely done with no manual effort, so you remain focused on your business growth.

Compatibility

SafeUpdates is fully compatible with WordPress, WooCommerce, and WordPress Multisites.

How Does SafeUpdates Work

SafeUpdates actively monitors your WordPress application to detect if there are any pending updates. Once updates are detected and executed, it does the following steps to ensure updates are safe and bug-free:

  1. Once updates are triggered, SafeUpdates takes a backup of your production application, so it can always roll back in case updates are aborted for any reason.

  2. Next, it creates a staging application temporarily. A staging application is a replica of your production application. This way, all the updates are carried out first in the staging environment.

  3. Staging environment snapshots are taken for the record, and unit testing is performed to ensure the application works fine.

  4. Next, all the selected updates are executed in the staging environment.

  5. Once updates are completed, new snapshots are taken, and unit testing is performed. Testing involves the following:

    1. Performance test

    2. WordPress updates

    3. HTML/CSS

    4. Network errors

    5. WordPress error logs

    6. Comparing screenshots before and after the updates using our proprietary Visual Regression Testing (VRT) algorithms

  6. Once the testing is successful, SafeUpdates updates the production application. Finally, another screenshot is taken, and the final end-to-end testing is done to ensure there are no flaws.

If updates are aborted during this cycle or the output is not as expected for any reason, SafeUpdates will abort the updating production application. Suppose the error occurs only after the live application is updated; SafeUpdates will roll back changes and restore your application to its previous working state as it takes backup before initiating the update process.

SafeUpdates Pricing

The SafeUpdates pricing structure is straightforward and offers discounts if you activate it on multiple sites. Please refer to the SafeUpdates pricing page for the updated pricing.

How to Activate and Configure SafeUpdates

Step #1 — Activate SafeUpdates

Log in to your Cloudways Platform using your credentials.

  1. From the top menu bar, open Servers.

  2. Next, choose the server where your desired application is deployed.

  3. Click www.

  4. Next, choose your application name.

  5. Under Application Management, select SafeUpdates.

  6. Next, click Activate SafeUpdates.

Step #2 — Configure SafeUpdates

This step is about configuring SafeUpdates as per your requirements so you can make the most out of it.

On-Demand

On-demand refers to updating your WordPress application core, themes, and plugins manually on-the-fly. We recommend using on-demand SafeUpdates during off-peak hours to avoid any disruption. Here's how you can start on-demand updates:

  1. Under the On-Demand tab, select the items you wish to update.

  2. Next, click Update.

Tip

If you have recently installed a plugin or theme which is not visible here, please click ⟳ Refresh.

Next, it will start the update process, and you don't need to wait until the updates finish because you can review the history later to check the status of the updates and whether they were successful or aborted.

Tip

Learn how SafeUpdates work and why it's better than updating your WordPress application manually.

SafeUpdates also backup your website before executing updates so it can always roll back in case errors occur after updating your production application. Please note that you also have an option to restore your website to the previous checkpoint in case you are not satisfied with the updates.

Schedule

By scheduling updates, you unlock the true potential of SafeUpdates. Scheduling updates on your applications removes the hassle of manually updating your applications essentials as SafeUpdates automatically runs updates at the scheduled time.

  1. Navigate to the Schedule tab and Enable Automatic Updates.

  2. Day of Week: Select the day on which SafeUpdates runs scheduled updates.

  3. Time: Choose a suitable time. The time zone is UTC, and the updates will take place within the 6-hour window.

    Tip

    We recommend scheduling updates during off-peak hours to avoid any disruption.

  4. Configure Update List: Click Custom Update List to select which applications essentials (core, plugins, and themes) are automatically updated when updates are available.

  5. Notification Email: Enter your email where you wish to receive updates about your application updates. By default, it will be sent to your Cloudways registered email address.

  6. Pre-Notification: Enable it if you wish to be notified in advance when SafeUpdates schedules updates for your application. Once enabled, you will be notified 24 before the update.

  7. Successful Update: Enable it if you wish to be notified when updates are successful.

  8. Aborted Update: Enable it if you wish to be notified when updates are aborted for any reason.

  9. Finally, click Save Changes.

History

Here, you will find the history of updates (successful/aborted) executed by the SafeUpdates. It maintains the last 30 days' updates history for each application.

You can click View Details in the logs to view more information.

How to Deactivate SafeUpdates

You can click Deactivate to remove your SafeUpdates subscription from any particular application.

How to Troubleshoot SafeUpdates Errors

Each SafeUpdates error has an error code associated so you can easily troubleshoot the errors you encounter.

SU-101: No Updates Available

No updates available means:

  • You have manually updated all the essentials before SafeUpdates.

  • The WordPress Automatic Background Update ran all the updates.

  • There is a temporary issue with the WordPress repository.

  • You did not select the WordPress core, plugins, or themes that you want to update using SafeUpdates.

  • Your premium plugins or themes do not support the WP-CLI update mechanism.

What you can do to resolve this:

  • Do not manually run updates in the WordPress admin.

  • Disable WordPress Automatic Background Update.

  • Reschedule the update to a later date.

  • Make sure to select the WordPress core, plugins, or themes that you want in SafeUpdates.

  • Contact your premium plugins or themes author and request them to support the WP-CLI update mechanism.

SU-102: Insufficient Disk Space

You may see this error if your server is running low on disk space. This is because SafeUpdates requires disk space equivalent to your application size to create the temporary staging site.

Using the monitoring tools, you can view your application disk usage and overall server disk usage.

What you can do to resolve this:

SU-103: Update Aborted

You may see this error if specific core, plugins, or themes fail during an update, or we detect errors after the update in the temporary staging environment.

What you can do to resolve this:

  • Exclude the problematic plugins or themes that we identified and try running the update again.

  • Reschedule the update to a later date to give the plugin or theme author some time to resolve such issues.

SU-104: Update Aborted

You may see this error when our proprietary algorithm determines that the update may:

  • Affect the performance of your website.

  • Change the layout or design of your website.

  • Change the HTML/CSS codes of your website.

  • Results in PHP errors to your website.

What you can do to resolve this:

  • Run On-demand updates with a few plugins and themes to diagnose which plugin or theme is the cause of the problem.

  • Create a staging environment and test the updates manually.

  • Reschedule the update to a later date to give the plugin or theme author some time to resolve such issues.

SU-105: Update Aborted

You may see this error if the update is aborted when the specified core, plugins, or themes fail during the update or if we detect errors after the update in your production site.

We will roll back your website changes by restoring the backup we have taken before starting the SafeUpdates process.

What you can do to resolve this:

  • Exclude the problematic plugins or themes that we identified and try running the update again.

  • Reschedule the update to a later date to give the plugin or theme author some time to resolve such issues.

SU-106: Database Unavailable

You may see this error if:

  • We are not able to locate your WordPress database.

  • You have deleted your WordPress database using SSH.

What you can do to resolve this:

  • Re-create your WordPress database with SSH.

  • Contact our friendly support team who can help you re-create the WordPress database.

SU-107: Update Aborted

You may see this error if the temporary staging environment we created does not match your actual website.

This should be a temporary issue, and you can reschedule the update to a later date. However, don't hesitate to contact our friendly support team for assistance if the error persists.

SU-108: Update Aborted

You may see this error if the update is aborted when we detect problems with the temporary staging site. Our engineers are automatically notified when this happens and will investigate the problem as soon as possible.

You can reschedule the update to a later date to give our engineers time to resolve the problem.

SU-109: Update Aborted

You may see this error if the update is aborted when we detect problems with the production site after the update.

We will roll back your website changes by restoring the backup we have taken before starting the SafeUpdates process. Our engineers are automatically notified when this happens and will investigate the problem as soon as possible.

You can reschedule the update to a later date to give our engineers time to resolve the problem.

SU-110: Update Aborted

You may see this error if the update is aborted when we detect an unexpected problem with the SafeUpdates process. Our engineers are automatically notified when this happens and will investigate the problem as soon as possible.

You can reschedule the update to a later date to give our engineers time to resolve the problem.

SU-111: WP-CLI - Not a WordPress Application

We use WP-CLI to update your WordPress applications to ensure maximum compatibility with all plugins and themes. You may see this error if we can't recognize your WordPress application due to:

  • Your WordPress core files are heavily modified.

  • Your WordPress files are located in a different directory than your web root.

  • You use a custom folder structure.

SafeUpdates does not support WordPress applications with modified core files or custom folder structure which does not adhere to the WordPress standards.

We are working on improving support for WordPress installed in a different directory than your web root.

SU-112: WP-CLI - Network Timed Out

We use WP-CLI to update your WordPress applications to ensure maximum compatibility with all plugins and themes.

You may see this error if we are not able to connect to:

  • The official WordPress.org repository.

  • The download server of premium plugins and theme providers.

You can reschedule the update to a later date, as this is a temporary network issue that will be resolved quickly.

SU-113: WP-CLI - Checksum Verification Error

We use WP-CLI to update your WordPress applications to ensure maximum compatibility with all plugins and themes.

You may see this error if some of your WordPress core files have been modified as their checksum does not match the official WordPress.org checksum.

Suppose the modification to the WordPress core files is intentional. In that case, you will not be able to use SafeUpdates as we do not support WordPress applications with modified core files, nor do we recommend such modifications to be done on your WordPress application.

If the modification of the WordPress core files is not intentional, you can reinstall the WordPress core files without affecting your existing content, plugins, and themes. This can be done with either one of the steps below:

  1. Login to your WordPress Admin > Dashboard > Updates page and click on Reinstall Now.

  2. Login to SSH and run the following command:

wp core download --skip-content --force

SU-114: WP-CLI - Core, Plugins, or Themes Error

We use WP-CLI to update your WordPress applications to ensure maximum compatibility with all plugins and themes.

You may see this error if the WordPress core, plugins, or themes fail during the WP-CLI update or if we detect errors after the WP-CLI update.

What you can do to resolve this:

  • Run on-demand updates with a smaller number of plugins or themes selected to try to identify which plugin or theme is the cause of the problem.

  • Create a staging environment and test the update there.

  • Reschedule the update to a later date to give the plugin or theme author some time to resolve such issues.

SU-115: WP-CLI - JSON Parsing Error

We use WP-CLI to update your WordPress applications to ensure maximum compatibility with all plugins and themes.

You may see this error if we encounter a JSON parsing error during the WP-CLI update. This can happen if a problematic plugin or theme interferes with the WP-CLI operation.

What you can do to resolve this:

  • Try to identify the problematic plugin or theme by disabling all plugins and themes and re-enabling them one at a time while running an on-demand update.

  • Reschedule the update to a later date to give the plugin or theme author some time to resolve such issues.

SU-116: WP-CLI - Execution Timed Out

We use WP-CLI to update your WordPress applications to ensure maximum compatibility with all plugins and themes.

You may see this error if the WP-CLI operation timed out, which can happen if the server is under high load.

What you can do to resolve this:

  • Reschedule the update to a later date or time slot where the CPU and RAM usage in the server is lower.

  • Retry the update when the CPU and RAM usage of the server is lower.

SU-117: WP-CLI - WP-CLI Tool Error

We use WP-CLI to update your WordPress applications to ensure maximum compatibility with all plugins and themes.

You may see this error if we detect problems with the WP-CLI tool in your server. Our engineers are automatically notified when this happens and will investigate the problem as soon as possible.

You can reschedule the update to a later date to give our engineers time to resolve the problem.

That’s it! We hope this article was helpful. If you need any help, then feel free to search your query on Cloudways Support Center or contact us via chat (Need a Hand > Send us a Message). Alternatively, you can also create a support ticket.

FAQs

Is SafeUpdates compatible with WooCommerce and WordPress Multisite applications?

Yes, it is fully compatible with WooCommerce and WordPress Multisite applications.

What happens when one plugin update is unsuccessful out of many?

SafeUpdates aborts the whole update when even one plugin or theme is problematic. SafeUpdates only proceeds with the updates on your production site when the updates and testing are successful on the staging site.

Can I schedule updates for all my applications at the same time?

Yes, you can schedule updates for all your applications in one slot, but SafeUpdates only processes updates for a single application at any given time and puts other applications in the queue if they are on the same server. This restriction helps to minimize the load on the server.

If your applications are hosted on different servers, the above restriction does not apply.

Why can't I view the history of the past two months?

SafeUpdates maintains the last 30 days' updates history for each application.

Does SafeUpdates also update premium themes and plugins?

SafeUpdates handle updates of themes and plugins regardless if they are paid or free.

Do I need extra disk space?

No, you don't need extra disk space, as SafeUpdates uses the same server's disk space to create a staging application temporarily and later removes it once updates are finished. In addition, the temporary staging application is also not storage-intensive as it does not include your media folder.

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