Posted On October 19, 2016 by Print This Post

WordPress Updates – Just Do It! by Carrie Peters

One day, RU Faculty Carrie Peters was helping a friend update her WP site, when it all disappeared. Nothing but a white screen. What happened? How did she recover? What if this ever happens to you? Read on, my friend, and find out the fix to the horror….

(This post is for owners of a site, not

As an author, you’ve been told repeatedly (by myself as well) that you need to have a website. Some hire it out, some make one themselves, some….still don’t have one. (We talked about this, remember?) Anyways, if you are one of those authors who updates your own website, you’re going to want to listen in as I tell you about those pesky updates and what they mean.

One day, all casual, you sign in to your WordPress site, and there’s a little red circle with a number in it. Staring at you. Mocking you. Having no idea what it means, you go on about your work, posting your latest blog post, checking your stats. You figure, if it’s important enough, that little red circle would flash or something, right? Wrong.

WordPress updates ARE important. Most are not life-threatening, but they certainly keep your software up to date with the latest plugins and keep your site updated with security updates as well.

So, let’s learn how to update our site.

Wordpress Updates - Just Do It! by Carrie Peters

When you sign in, on your dashboard there’s a button called updates. Clever, right? Almost every time you sign in, there’s going to be an update available. There’s going to be WordPress updates, plugin updates, and theme updates.

Let’s take a walk through and see how it’s done.

Sign in, and take a look at your updates.

This is from my website, and I have seven updates. Yikes. Of course, I have quite a few plugins as well, so let’s take a look at what these particular updates are. Go ahead and click on Updates.


This is what you get first. Updates to WordPress itself. I had updated mine a few weeks ago, so I’m good to go. It will automatically tell me if I have an update to the site that requires my intervention, or if it’s a security update that WordPress applies automatically. If WP does update my website, I get a nice notice in my email inbox informing me it’s already been done. After you get one of those emails, do go check on your site and make sure all is working okay. Sometimes a plug-in will mess things up.

Next we’ll move on to plugin updates.

Wordpress Updates - Just Do It! by Carrie Peters

Even though I’m only showing three updates here, there’s really 7 necessary. If I click in the “Select all” box at the top left under the Update Plugins box, all plugins will be selected and I can click “Update Plugins” and wait for them to update. BUT BEFORE YOU DO THIS…….probably don’t update more than 7 plugins at a time. Sometimes you’ll lose a connection, sometimes it takes a long time. Just do a few, then do a few more.

Wordpress Updates - Just Do It! by Carrie Peters

After you’ve clicked Update Plugins DO NOT MOVE FROM THIS PAGE. Yup, I’m yelling at you. Don’t click refresh, don’t wander off to blog posts, don’t do anything except sit there and wait. Trust me, otherwise you’ll end up in maintenance mode land and you don’t want to be there. Seriously.

Now here’s your reward for sitting so patiently and waiting…the “everything installed successfully” page. Woot!

Wordpress Updates - Just Do It! by Carrie Peters

And waaaaaay at the bottom of this screen is this..

Wordpress Updates - Just Do It! by Carrie Peters

Click return to WordPress Updates and make sure there aren’t any more updates. If there are…they will be in the Themes area.

Wordpress Updates - Just Do It! by Carrie Peters

No Themes need updating, although if they did, you’d follow in the same manner as the plugins. Select all, update. Easy peasy.

Now sometimes, things go wrong. Not often, but when it does, be prepared to leap into action. The common error is Maintenance Mode. You won’t be able to navigate anywhere in your site, neither will your visitors. It’s just a big white page instead of your home page that says

Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute.

You’ll blink in horror, then panic. Been there, done that.

First, if you have access to your site via FTP, sign in and delete the folder named .maintenance. Then log back into your site. You might have to hit the refresh button a time or two.

If you don’t have FTP access, ask whomever designed your template if they can do it.

Still stuck? If you know who your hosting is through, you can access the files via a CPanel on the hosting website.

Still stuck??? You poor thing! Call your hosting company, tell them what happened and ask them to walk you through it, or if they’ll do it for you.


And in conclusion, most Maintenance mode problems are caused by not doing your updates. So…just do your updates. Log in every few weeks, find out what’s up there, do a few updates and go on about your daily life. It only takes a few minutes and you’ll never have to worry about seeing that big blank screen

Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute.

I have nightmares about that one still. *shudder*


If you have questions – ask away! I’m in and out most of the day but will definitely take time to answer!

Join us on Friday for Donna Cummings!


Bio: Carrie Peters writes smart ass romance. She belongs to Romance Writers of America,  Romance Writers Online and was a former Girl Scout. Her badges included Collecting, Leadership and the coveted World Trefoil Pin. Carrie works as a restaurant manager, bookcover and website designer, and is learning how to use a flat iron. Her claims to fame include: lifting 50-pound bicep curls, stirring up a mean Mai Tai and concocting an even meaner Long Island Iced Tea. She lives in rural Iowa with three cats. For more about Carrie, head over to, or

Similar Posts:

Share Button



9 Responses to “WordPress Updates – Just Do It! by Carrie Peters”

  1. Hi Carrie,
    There is a plug in called back-up buddy. It allows you to back up your wp site before you do updates. It’s awesome! I used it on my business website. Can’t remember how much it costs. It might be free. Hope this info is helpful.
    Karen Cades

    Posted by Karen | October 19, 2016, 8:07 am
    • Hey Karen..

      We have backup buddy here on RU, and yup, it works great! It does cost however, I don’t remember how much.

      Which brings up a great point, always backup before you update! Go to Dashboard> Tools> Export and save that file to your computer!

      Thanks Karen!


      Posted by Carrie Peters | October 19, 2016, 9:01 am
  2. Several years ago I had my own domain with WP setup. I was always making sure I had all the updates done. Still, one day after clicking on just a few updates, my site vanished. It got me so upset I turned off my computer and didn’t return to it for three months. I tried everything to undo whatever had happened so my site would come back. I called WP. They said it was my host. I called my host. They tried to help me for three days with no luck. The only thing for me to do was give up. I’m back with WP but the Com site, not the Org site. If I ever have my own domain again, I’ll be using WordPress.Com to host so that they can do most of the stuff behind the scenes.

    Posted by Glynis Jolly | October 19, 2016, 3:29 pm
    • Hey Glynis!

      That’s a tough one to be sure! I was so terrified the first time I got a white screen I almost cried…lol…but generally if you can get to your host within 30 days, they have your entire site backed up. (Please do check this out when you are looking to buy hosting!) is definitely always online, always backed up,etc…it just has fewer functionalities than a full site.

      Glad you are back up and running at least with a website!


      Posted by Carrie Peters | October 19, 2016, 4:32 pm
  3. Despite your encouragement, I’m still a techno-phobe. And I miss Woody. Any chance he’ll be back?

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | October 19, 2016, 10:18 pm
  4. I get the heebie-jeebies just reading this. I use Microsoft and the all-night updates make me crazy. I’m glad we have you to guide us at RU, Carrie, because – as you know! – I’m a low-tech person.

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | October 20, 2016, 3:18 pm
    • lol….I try to explain it so anyone can do it! I’ve been pretty successful with my tutorials and videos for people I’ve made websites for…people JUST LIKE YOU who think they can’t, can!

      OTOH, you can always hire out the work and sleep care-free. =)

      Glad to do the behind the scenes work here at RU – there’s never a dull moment!


      Posted by Carrie Peters | October 21, 2016, 9:31 am


  1. […] WordPress Updates – Just Do It! […]

Post a comment

Upcoming Posts

  • Feb 23, 2018 No More Fat Shaming! with Kris Bock





Follow Us