As a web developer, I get asked often by clients about updating. To be honest, most clients aren’t aware when new versions of their various web software packages come out. But, some get email alerts and forward them along to me asking when I plan to update their site.
Here’s the deal with programming: Any time a program is changed (such as Wordpress, Joomla, Drupal, or any of the extensions or plugins that run on top of any of those), that’s an opportunity to introduce new bugs. Yes, most software companies and open-source platforms do a good deal of testing before they release upgrades. Yet, it’s not all too uncommon for an update to contain some new bug that wasn’t found during testing.
And, when that happens … well, they usually have to fix that bug and release another update. And then all of those who updated need to update again. This just happened today, as I’m writing this; the Joomla! CMS released 3.9.17 and a few hours later released 3.9.18 because of a bug.
So, Why Wait?
I know what you’re thinking: Why wait, anyway? If there’s a new bug, just apply the new patch, right?
Well, sure, that usually works, too. But, for one, it also means you have to redo what you already did. And so if your web developer is doing it, you’ll have to pay him or her for the extra time. Whereas, if you’d have waited a few days, or even a week, there’d have been no extra time needed because the developer would have skipped the first buggy update and gone directly to the fixed one.
In more serious cases, though — which are much less common, but which do happen — the bug could be much worse and your entire site could be knocked out. This is, of course, why you or your developer should always back up your entire site prior to updating anything on it! So, yes, even this is fixable. But, restoring an entire site may well take a good bit longer than a simple update, thus costing you more $$$.
For me: I like to wait a week (unless the update includes any serious, high-priority security patches, of course). Let everyone else in the world serve as the wide-scale testers. If you hear of no additional patches within a week, you can usually assume that the update was functional and an improvement on whatever you had in place.
I realize the above statement may sound a little selfish — letting others be the guinea pigs instead of what may be viewed as joining in and helping out. But that’s only because I’m a developer looking after about 70 web sites, and I really, really don’t want to have to redo 70 updates if I don’t have to.
For what it’s worth, I actually don’t wait it out 100% across the board. I have about 5–10 “low-risk” sites of my own that I usually do apply the updates to pretty quick, more or less as tests. I’d rather encounter any problems on my own sites than those of any clients. Still, even if my own sites update easily and without issue, I still hang back for the week before updating client ones. Over time, I’ve found this to be the best approach.
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✍🏻 Jim Dee maintains his personal blog, “Hawthorne Crow,” a web design blog, “Web Designer | Web Developer Magazine,” and a vocabulary blog, “Wonderful Words, Defined.” He also contributes to various Medium.com publications. Find him at JPDbooks.com, his Amazon Author page, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Medium, or via email at Jim [at] ArrayWebDevelopment.com. His latest novel, CHROO, is available on Amazon.com. If you enjoy humorous literary tales, please grab a copy!