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How to Update to WordPress 5.8.1 Security and Maintenance Release

How to Update to WordPress 5.8.1 Security and Maintenance Release

For each WordPress update released, I will note specific recommendations and provide additional insight concerning any new features and functionality. Bookmark this article (Press Ctrl + D to Bookmark this page), so you can come back each time there is a new WordPress release.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

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5.8.1

This security and maintenance release features 60 bug fixes in addition to 3 security fixes. Because this is a security release, it is recommended that you update your sites immediately. All versions since WordPress 5.4 have also been updated.

WordPress 5.8.1 is a short-cycle security and maintenance release. The next major release will be version 5.9.

You can download WordPress 5.8.1 by downloading from WordPress.org, or visit your Dashboard → Updates and click Update Now.

WordPress 5.8 Tatum

This release is just the beginning of offering FSE (Full Site Editing) a much-desired feature to WordPress. I wrote about FSE and themes here.

5.8 Overview:

  • Manage Widgets with Blocks
  • Display Posts with New Blocks and Patterns
  • Edit the Templates Around Posts
  • Three Workflow Helpers
  • Overview of the Page Structure
  • Suggested Patterns for Blocks
  • Style and Colorize Images

[More detail here on WordPress.org]

Important Consideration with this release…

I always hold off on major releases (5.7.X vs. 5.8) to see if there are any bugs once the software is out in the wild. Being this is a substantial update that theme developers have had to address due to FSE (Full Site Editing), you'll want to double-check with your theme developer before updating to find out if there are any considerations you need to be aware of.

You can update to WordPress 5.8 by downloading from WordPress.org or by visiting your Dashboard → Updates and click Update Now.

If you have sites that support automatic background updates, they’ve already started the update process.

Here's a great video from WordFence (my favorite security plugin) to walk you through all the exciting changes:


You can download WordPress 5.8 by downloading from WordPress.org or visit your Dashboard → Updates and click Update Now.


WordPress recommends your host supports:

  • PHP version 7.4 or greater.
  • MySQL version 5.6 or greater OR MariaDB version 10.1 or greater.
  • HTTPS support.

But first…

WordPress Updating Tips

WARNING: The upgrade process will affect all files and folders included in the main WordPress installation. This includes all the core files used to run WordPress. If you have made any changes to those files, your changes will be lost.

IMPORTANT

When updating WordPress themes or plugins, following the simple steps below can save you some headaches. First off, do a quick double-check with theme and plugin developers *before* updating.

You want to review if they have any concerns or comments about your theme and the new version. Some theme shops may ask you to delay updating if their testing reflects issues they need to address first.

Your theme developer may then be advised to update your theme before updating WordPress. The benefit of using a quality premium theme and plugins means the developer(s) are always on top of this.

If you are ever unsure about how or if an update will impact your website, you can always do a dry run in your staging area. Check out my article: What's a Staging Site and Why Do I Need One?

Step-by-step WordPress Update Instructions

To help you safely and easily update to the most recent version of WordPress, let's do a little housekeeping first:

Save your Database and WordPress XML file off-site.

For your XML file, click on the Tools icon in the left sidebar and then Export. On the next screen, click on Download Export File.

You might want to create a new folder on your hard drive to keep all your website files. Name it WP Backup, so you know to save all backup files for WP there (and you'll know where to find them if you need them).

It is a good idea to back up this file once a week/month anyway, regardless if an update is needed. If you post more often, back up your site more often. I have my calendar marked to do so each Friday, so I don't forget.

Backup Your WordPress Database

If you are on a Managed WordPress (aff) Hosting platform, go to your hosting Dashboard and create a backup point there. Then download a copy. You can create a “backup-point” in your hosting dashboard on most WordPress Managed hosts.

If you are on shared hosting, there is a nifty plugin that makes this process a no-brainer, UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin. This plugin is also a must-have for repairing and optimizing your database (which you should be doing minimally monthly to keep things running smoothly).

FTP into Your Web Server and Download that Backup

If your host doesn't offer a way to download that backup from within your hosting dashboard, we have to go directly into the server. We need to have it copied off your server. That backup won't do you any good if the server crashes or has issues.

Even better, store the backup file in the cloud or on an external drive in case you also experience computer problems.

Cover All the Bases

Download your theme/framework/child theme folders to your local hard drive. This is just good practice if you have customized any theme files. Better yet, download your entire wp-content directory.

Not comfortable backing up everything and updating yourself? Subscribe to my WordPress White Glove Support Service, and I'll handle everything for you with the bonus of extra coaching and business intelligence you can use to grow your site!

It is a good idea to review my article:
WordPress How To: Do the Mother of All Backups

Don't forget to update your plugins. You'll see with each WordPress update that plugin developers also update their plugins which you can also do with one click. You'll see the nag bar under the plugin name in the plugins area with a link to “update now.”

If you find after an update that something is not working as it was, you have a couple of options.

When it comes to plugins, if the developer is not testing his/her plugin to work with the lasted WordPress version, find another plugin whose developer is on top of these things.

Always Backup and Update Promptly

Updating should not be ignored or put off. Every update includes security hardening, and that's why hackers always target sites that are not maintained.

When you promptly process WordPress updates and stay on top of Premium Theme and Plugin updates, you not only are in step with technology, but you make sure your site is secure and has the best chance to function error-free.

At your service,

Judith, WordPress Consultant