This documentation covers the basic concepts for updating GiveWP.  Those include: why GiveWP updates are important, what to consider before updating, the process of updating, how to trigger the updates, and how to undo an update.

Why Updates are important

One of the most appealing aspects of GiveWP is that at the end of the day, you own your data. That freedom comes with responsibility to make sure that your data is preserved and that your GiveWP plugins are up to date.

Updates include patches and fixes for known issues found in previous versions. Often some technical problems are resolved by updating to the latest release of the GiveWP Donations plugin and its add-ons.

While updating to the latest version is usually recommended, consider that waiting too long to update the plugin might create issues if your current version is outdated by a few releases. To avoid scenarios like that, it’s best practice to update from the previous version of the latest release and then updating to the latest release from there. In this scenario, you’d go from 2.6.3 to 2.7.5 to 2.8.1 to 2.9.7 before making the jump to 2.10.x (for example). This allows for all the database update routines that might need to happen to do so in the correct order.

Updates often include new features, functionality, and enhancements to previous plugin versions. The most recent version available is the only stable branch of the repository and is the recommended version for the majority of users. GiveWP does not maintain stable branches of older versions, even for security patches.

Things to consider before Updating

Having a staging site (or test site) alongside your live site is a great way to test functionality, new designs, plugins, etc. It’s also a great way to make sure your site is working well with the latest updates. While it may seem like extra effort to have a staging site, the good news is that they’re usually included free with many hosting plans and are relatively easy to set up. The GiveWP team uses and recommends the WP Stagecoach  plugin for creating staging sites, if your host does not provide one. There are other free options as well on the official WordPress Plugin Directory.

You can troubleshoot the staging site with no worry that your live users are being affected. If all is well in staging, you can then update the live site thereafter.

As a safeguard for potential data loss in complications of updating plugins, it’s always a wise move to make sure that the site is backed up before updating. That means the database, themes, plugins, etc. This is so that if anything goes wrong during an update, you can revert to a past version via a site restore. An example plugin that can help with that is UpdraftPlus.

the updraft-plus back-up plugin on wordpress.org

Another option to consider when updating your WordPress website is putting your site in “Maintenance Mode.” This will allow other Admins to access and test the site, but at the same time it will show all other users a maintenance page and won’t allow access. This is a critical step to prevent data loss during updates and other site maintenance. You want to ensure that no new donations or comments or other database-specific things can be happening while the site is being updated. There are plenty of plugins that you can use for this; check them out here.

The Process of Updating GiveWP and Add-ons:

The core GiveWP plugin is hosted in the official WordPress repository. WordPress has a built-in update system and it shows notifications when updates are available.

WordPress alert to update plugin

When a new version of GiveWP is available, you’ll see the notifications on the WordPress admin panel as well as in the Plugins menu.

To update GiveWP from the Plugin menu, click on the ‘Update Now’ link from the notification below the plugin.WordPress notification to update GiveWP plugin

How to update GiveWP add-ons:

If you have your license key activated on your site, you can update the GiveWP add-ons by following the same steps as GiveWP. You can also manually update the add-ons. To install the update manually, first download the ZIP file from within your account on the GiveWP website.  Navigate to “My Downloads”, then navigate to Plugins > Add New > Upload, and manually upload the ZIP file. If you are running version 5.5 or later of WordPress itself, it will offer to override the existing version.

download GiveWP add-ons in GiveWP account

On older versions of WordPress, you’ll need to deactivate and delete the existing add-ons before you upload the new version. Don’t worry about the settings and data. That’s stored in the database.

How to Undo a GiveWP update:

It’s best practice to have a backup/restore plan as mentioned above. This is the safest way to “undo” an update.

You can use the WP-Rollback plugin to go back to an older version of GiveWP core. Please use caution when attempting to use this, as certain updates include database updates and database migrations might cause issues if rolling back. The WP-Rollback plugin is only available for plugins on the WordPress.org repository, that means Give-WP add-ons can’t be rolled back (or rolled forward).

wp-rollback plugin on wordpress.org

After installing and activating the plugin, you will see a rollback option below the plugin. Clicking on it will allow you to rollback the plugin to any of the previous versions provided.

wp-rollback link displayed below plugin

Updating GiveWP Takeaways

GiveWP puts the privilege of owning your own data in your hands. That means that you’re also responsible for making sure that your sites are updated and for safeguarding that data. To reiterate, keeping GiveWP and it’s add-ons updated, means that you’re:

  • using the current stable branch
  • taking advantage of the latest features
  • running the most up to date fixes/patches

It’s always a good idea to have a backup/restore workflow set up before updating any GiveWP plugins (and general WordPress updates), so that you can revert/restore if any issues arise.