Every WordPress professional will tell you that the one thing you need to ensure when running a WordPress site is to keep it updated. This way, you ensure that your theme is up to date on all the latest features and has all the necessary security patches to keep your site and its data from falling into the wrong hands.
If the whole process has you nervous, to begin with, and you don’t want to deal with updates, you can always lean on a WP support agency that will take care of your WordPress theme update for you.
So, we know that upgrades are essential, but how do you upgrade your theme without losing the settings? The first thing you need to do is a backup of your theme files. The rest is simple, just follow this step-by-step guide, and your WordPress theme will be updated in no time.
How to Update a WordPress Theme Without Losing Customization
Automatically Updating Themes
You will be notified by WordPress whenever a new version of your WordPress theme is released. To update to the latest version, all you need to do is head to “Appearance” and then “Themes” in your WordPress dashboard.
Since WordPress 3.7 came out, you have the ability to upgrade your theme automatically without having to do any of the work manually.
You can enable this by entering the following snippet of code to your functions.php file:
add_filter( ‘auto_update_theme’, ‘__return_true’ )
Now, this only works with themes that are downloaded from the official WordPress theme directory. If you’ve decided to use a theme downloaded from a third-party website, you will need to follow their exact instructions.
As soon as you hit the Upload Now button, WordPress will install the theme package, unzip it, and then replace the older version with the newest one.
Unfortunately, if you have any manual customizations, those updates will be overridden, and you will lose them.
So, what will you lose? Any functions.php, adjustments, and style.css edits will go out the window when you perform a WordPress theme update.
Create a Backup of Your WordPress Theme
The solution to losing your adjustments when updating your WordPress theme is to create a backup.
All you need to do is connect to your hosting using an FTP client. For example, you can use FileZilla. Your next step is to find /wp-content/themes/ and download your WordPress theme to your device.
Download Your New Theme
Although this is considered the most challenging step in the whole process, it shouldn’t take much effort. To ensure that your update goes as smoothly as it can, you will need to add the customizations from the old version to the new one.
First, get the theme by downloading the latest theme found on the official website. You will need to extract it, as it comes in a zip file. Now you have both the old and new versions. If you remember all the changes you have made, you’ll be done in no time – just copy and paste those in.
If you cannot keep up with the changes you’ve made in the past, you’ll need to go through the codes and find the differences between the two.
This can be done with file comparison software. If you’re using Windows, you can easily do it with WinMerge, while Kaleidoscope should do it for Mac. For Linux, you can use a file comparison software like Meld. The software will allow you to easily and quickly discover any tweaks that you made. As soon as you’ve found them, just copy and paste that code from your old version to the new one and save it.
Upload Your New Theme
As soon as you have your upgraded WordPress theme ready to go, you should connect to your website using the FTP. Locate the /wp-content/themes/ folder where your new theme is.
You will find that a warning comes up telling you that a file with the same name already exists. Because you have updated all your customizations, you can now override that file with the updated version.
How to Avoid Losing Customization During Your Theme Update
There are a number of things that you can do to avoid losing your customizations. The first is to use a code snippets plugin. This will securely store any of your custom code changes.
Another option is that you can save your CSS code in the “Additional CS” tab. For those of you that feel confident with WordPress, you can create a child theme, which allows you to make changes to your site without altering the original theme’s code.
When you upgrade your WordPress theme, you’re not only ensuring better performance of your WordPress site, with all the perks of the latest features, but you’re also upgrading its security.
With more than 400 million people using WordPress powered sites on a monthly basis, it is not only a popular tool for those wanting to build their website but also an attractive target for cybercriminals. This is why security updates are incredibly important.
If you decide to tackle updating your WordPress theme, the one rule you need to remember is to make a backup of everything. Make sure to do this with your old theme, the database, as well as the new theme. Should anything go wrong, you will always have your backup files to fall back on.
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