The time has finally arrived!
WordPress 5.0 was officially released on December 6th.
This is the largest update to the core WordPress files since they started the project and has many new features most notably the Gutenberg editor.
With this being a major release, they’re not going to be pushing out these updates automatically and there is a certain approach I recommend taking.
Have A Full Backup Of Your Website
At NameHero we provide complimentary nightly backups of your website with one day retention.
We also offer 30-day backup retention through our partnership with DropMySite.
While these are great options, I would also recommend downloading a backup to your local computer.
This way you have a full copy of your website in the exact state before the update just incase something goes wrong.
You can easily do this by going into cPanel -> Backups -> Download A Full Website Backup.
Once it’s generated you’ll want to download this file to your computer and delete it from your home directory.
If you have a lot of other files on your account besides WordPress, you may want to just do a manual WordPress backup or use a plugin.
Setup A Staging Environment
Recently we introduced One Click WordPress Staging And Push To Live.
This feature is going to be a lifesaver with WordPress 5.0!
Using this, you’ll be able to make an exact replicate of your WordPress website, do the update, and then check your website and make sure it isn’t broken before pushing it out live.
Before you get started, if you’re using a caching plugin, such as LiteSpeed Cache, you’ll want to disable it before setting up the staging.
Since this plugin is set to cache resources in the current directory WordPress is installed it will create issues when you replicate the website.
Once that’s completed, follow my directions in this tutorial to setup a staging area for WordPress 5.0.
Complete The WordPress 5.0 Update On Your Staging
Login to the wp-admin of your WordPress staging area and click on the automatic WordPress updater:
From here, you can complete the update automatically by clicking Update Now:
Once it finishes you should see a welcome to WordPress 5.0 screen:
You can then check your website on the staging URL (i.e. the folder you staged in) and make sure your site isn’t broken.
You can also publish a test page/post to see the functionality of the new Gutenberg editor.
You’ll notice your old posts/pages still use a legacy classic editor so your formatting isn’t messed up.
Check Your Plugins
If you are using a lot of WordPress plugins, you’ll want to check them to see if they’re compatible with WordPress 5.0.
Even if you website isn’t messed up from the update, it’s possible they could create some issues down the road.
To check your plugins, you can navigate to the Plugins -> Installed Plugins and click View Details:
If you rely heavily on a plugin, such as the LiteSpeed cache, you may wish to give it a few more days before pushing the update out live.
Most popular WordPress developers will be pushing out their latest updates in the coming weeks.
If you have a custom plugin, you’ll want to get with the developer to see what their plans are when it comes to WordPress 5.0.
Check Your Theme
Most of this is going to be done by visual inspection.
Spend some time going through your website and make sure your pages are displaying properly.
The majority of theme developers also regularly push out updates, so you’ll want to make sure you have those installed.
If you have a custom theme, you’ll also need to get with that developer and discuss the compatibility with WordPress 5.0.
Push Your Updated WordPress Website Out Live
If everything looks good, you can use the Push To Live Feature to put your WordPress website live.
It’s important to note the staging environment doesn’t automatically delete so you can still go back and use it, but if you make changes to your live website after this (such as new posts/pages) you’ll want to re-create the staging area.
Once your website is pushed back out live, you’ll want to re-enable any of those caching plugins such as LiteSpeed cache.
As mentioned earlier, it’s best to leave those disabled while you’re doing the staging process as they’re known to cause some issues since they actually modify your .htaccess file.
Hate Gutenberg? Use The Classic Editor
WordPress is going to be supporting their class editor until 2021.
If you absolutely hate the new editor, I don’t want you to use this as an excuse not to update your website.
Running your WordPress website on outdated files is a huge security risk, so you’ll want to make sure and do the update.
However, if you want to use the classic editor you can easily install it as a plugin by going to Plugins -> Add New and searching for it:
Once you activate this plugin, the editing experience will go right back to the way it was prior to the WordPress 5.0 update.
Eventually you’ll have to transition, but you have a couple of years to warm up to it (and for them to adapt to the feedback from the community).
How To Update Your Website To WordPress 5.0
I’ve filmed a detail tutorial where you can follow along these steps with me to get your website updated:
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them below!
Ryan Gray is the founder and CEO of NameHero, one of the fastest growing independent web hosts in the United States. Ryan has been working online since 1998 and has over two-decades experience in Internet Entrepreneurship.