What order should WordPress updates be installed?

WordPress administrators will be familiar with this screen – updates available for WordPress core, themes and plugins – but what order should they be installed in?

When faced with multiple updates I follow this order:

  1. themes
  2. plugins
  3. WordPress core

Why this order?

This order is based on the risk of something breaking, changing or being lost.

While all updates present a level of risk – but each is slightly different.

Themes are relatively low risk – as long as customisations haven’t been made directly to the theme’s files (e.g. functions.php or styles.css).

Plugins are a bit of a wildcard. The code quality varies greatly – but plugin developers do get the opportunity to test WordPress updates before they’re released and sometimes release updates specifically to address compatibility with future versions of WordPress core.

Finally, WordPress core updates are installed – hopefully with themes and plugins that are fully compatible with the update.

Just remember – before installing updates make sure to backup.