Updating PRO Plugins the right way

RazielKanos24. July 2021

5 min read

Updating PRO WordPress Plugins can be a real pain in the ass. Many Plugins that have a PRO version come in two. You have to install the free version and add your PRO content by also installing a second PRO plugin. This setup makes it easer for the developers to update their products, but it also makes your life as a page owner or webmaster a bit more complicated.

WordPress doesn't just run it's plugins by adding their code into the output of your viewport in the browser. Often things need to get compiled while the page loads or a plugin gets activated after a new installation or an update. If there is an incompatibility to another plugin, this can result into the "white page of death" or just an error oputput and a broken website.

In most cases you can prevent that from happening by following the right steps to update your PRO plugins…

Why you should take the long road when updating PRO WordPress Plugins

WordPress now offers the possibility to just upload a zipfile and overwrite the old version of a plugin. In about 90% of the cases that will work just fine. You should remember that developers are just humans too, and they can make mistakes!

Sometimes codes get merged, and old files are just not needed anymore. Overwrite old plugin files doesn't delete these older prugin files, and depending on it's content that can cause several issues for your website.

With digital products, however, margins of 50 or even 75% are sometimes possible. Whether the toaster costs 10 or 20 euros, THIS makes a difference! The losses incurred by the affiliate are included in the price by the manufacturer – that means YOU always pay on top!

Updating PRO WordPress Plugins can casue secutiry issues

Well, this doesn't just count for PRO plugins, but also for all other plugins. If there is a security issue in one of the older files, and you just use the normal way or the upload way to update your profiles, these old files remain on your servers harddrive. The filestructure of a specifiv plugin ALWAYS is the same. If a hacker knows that there is an issue in an old file of a plugin, they can try to access this file directly.

For example, if you run Jetpack on your website, you have this file:

https://yopur-domain.com/wp-content/plugins /jetpack/3rd-party/bitly.php

If the developers removed that file, and merge it's code into some other file, YOU will still have this file on your server, and others can access it.

Delete plugins when updating PRO WordPress Plugins

To make sure you don't have any old crap on your harddrive that can bite you back one day, regulary delete the plugin, and do a fresh reinstallation. I know this can be annoying, and it takes more time, but you don't have to do it for every update you make. If you lack the time, you can do it once every 6moths for example.

Remember that if you always overwrite old plugins and themes, you open up your page to a lot of trouble. So think about it if the extra work isn't worth it, because cleaning a website up after you encountered a maleware attack is MUCH more work, and MUCH worse!

Step 1: Backup your Database

You should ALWAYS make a Backup of your website before you do any kind of changes like a WordPress, Theme or Plugin update. Additional to that, you also should backup your database on a regular basis, so you don't loose any posts or comments.

If you don't have a backup plugin you should install one NOW! Here is a link to a nice one on the WordPress repository.

Updating PRO WordPress Plugins - Backup

Step 2: Deactivate the old Plugins in your WordPress List

Go to your plugin list, mark both plugins – the free and the pro version. Than select "Deactivate" from the Bulk action list and deactivate the plugins.

Make sure they are both marked as inactive, than you can go on to the next step.

Step 3: Delete the old Plugins

Once you see the plugins are markes as inactive in your list, mark them again and choose this time "Delete" from the Bulk Action list. Wait till the list updates and the plugins are showing as deleted…

Go on to the next step…

Step 4: Install the free Plugin from the WordPress repository

Download and install the free version from the WordPress repository. It's important that you install and ACTIVATE it BEFORE you move on!

All Pro versions of a plugin rely on the free version, no matter if you want to update brizy, or SEO press or anything else. The free version is the groundbase where on top you get the pro features. The main reason why you get trouble with free-pro partner plugins is that WordPress updates the pro verseion first by accident, and the new pro version can't find a compatible base. The result is an error page, or the blank page of death.

Step 5: Install the PRO Version

Once you are sure that the free version is up and running, visit the website of your Plugin developer and download the latest stable version of the pro Plugin. In most cases developers will only provide the stable version, but if you see something like a "nightly build" ignore them.

Upload the ZIP file, and activat it. Once done, everything should work as intended again. Time for the final step…

Step 6: Clear your cache

Usually every page ower uses a cache plugin. If you don't, your really should. A cache sppeds up how long it takes to load your website. To do that, the cache plugin stores a physical copy of your page in static pages. If you don't flush that cache, you rist that visitors will see an outdated version of your website.

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