Open source web technology has benefits and drawbacks. A well-supported open source tool can provide both performance stability and cost efficiency. Popular tools, conversely can often be prime targets for hackers, as the source code for the tools is publicly available and a malicious desire to "hit" as many targets as possible is made easy on any widely-deployed system. One way to avoid performance and security failings is to keep your software up-to-date.
If you’re like many website owners, you probably have an “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” mindset. If your site is built on open source content management software such as WordPress or Drupal and you are not keeping up with the latest updates, your website is falling behind in terms of functionality, access speed, security and compatibility with ever-changing industry standards.
Here are some reasons to make sure your website is always using the most current version of its software:
Protection from hackers.
As an open source application, anyone can gain access to core code. On the positive side, this enables experts across developer communities to continually test for bugs and weaknesses — and to offer suggestions for fixes and improvements.
On the negative side, hackers also have direct access to the code. This enables them to look for ways to target sites in general — in order to crash a site, gain access to data, or even to take it for ransom. Using the latest version of your software will ensure you’re protected by the most up-to-date security protocols to guard against hackers.
New and improved features.
Major updates released by open-source CMS developers typically include a host of performance improvements. These include improvements to the content management system (CMS) for easier/smoother updating and better site management. Source code is also streamlined regularly to maximize access speeds, an advantage that is crucial to both your SEO and visitor engagement efforts.
Ensuring compatibility for themes and plugins.
Developers of themes and plugins are always working to enable their products to take advantage of the latest CMS features. What’s more, they often coordinate their own updates with the release of major core platform updates.
In addition to updating your core installation, you should also update the themes and plugins your site is using. Just beware that all theme and plugin developers are not created equal in terms of pre-testing versions prior to release. As with any software upgrade, make sure to perform a full website backup before you begin the themes/plugins update process.
Taking advantage of smaller bug fixes.
Even after the most meticulous and exhaustive testing, software bugs can crop up. This is especially true for major updates. To address these bug fixes, developers will typically release follow-up updates after a major update — i.e. major version 4.2 is followed by version 4.2.1, version 4.2.2, version 4.2.3, etc. Keep current with these follow-up updates as well to further ensure the functionality, speed and security of your site.
Learn more about how Neptune Web can keep your site up-to-date and secure.