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How to Enable Automatic Plugin Updates in WordPress + How to Disable

  • By Editor Team
  • 07 Jun, 2021
  • Guide
  • 15 Min Read
Last Update: 28 Jul, 2022

How to Enable Automatic Plugin Updates in WordPress

Working with outdated plugins sucks. Outdated plugins retain old features and sometimes do not match the newer WordPress version.

If you are ambitious about establishing a world-class brand, make sure your website has all the updated plugins. You will miss the extra features and benefits if you run your website with old plugins. It is as like as they say –

A product can be quickly outdated, but a successful brand is limitless.

Turning on auto-updates for plugins reduces your time and effort. Luckily, — the newer WordPress versions feature enabling and disabling automatic plugin updates. We will discuss automatic plugin updates, their benefits, their drawbacks, and everything else.

Different methods for configuring auto-updates in WordPress:

To enable automatic plugin updates for WordPress, there are several methods. Automatic plugin updates for your WordPress site can sometimes be unnecessary and even harmful. So, before you move on, you need to do something so that you can roll back.

Back up your website before moving on:

Before you update any plugin, you should always keep a backup of your website. This will give the chance of rolling back to the previous state. Although updating plugins or enabling auto-updates for plugins won’t affect your website in any way, updating security or backup plugins do have some impacts. If anything goes wrong, there’s always a way to get back to the previous state.

— Among all the methods for automatic plugin updates, we think these are the main 3 three ways –

1. How to enable auto-updates in WordPress:

Basic Process This is the easiest and most popular method for updating individual plugins. Just follow these steps and you will be good to go –

  • Log into your WordPress dashboard by going to –

Admin Login

  • Once you successfully log into your WordPress admin panel, visit –

Plugins » Installed Plugins

  • You will notice a list of plugins that you have installed for your website. Click on the “Enable auto-updates” action link next to the plugin you want to update.

Plugin Enable for auto updates

Quick Tip: This process can be simultaneously done for multiple plugins by using a bulk action. Select the plugins that you want to update, then select “Enable Auto-updates” from the drop-down. Finally, click on the “Apply” button.
Perhaps, this video will help you understand the subject very quickly and easily –

2. Enable auto-updates by inserting code (Update all plugins)

Okay! Want to enable automatic plugin updates without installing anything?
This method is exactly like that. This method is all about inserting codes that will turn on automatic updates for all of your plugins. The same process can be applied for activating auto-updates for your themes and WordPress core updates.
Follow these steps accordingly to know how to enable auto-update for all the plugins of your WordPress site -0.
  • Log into your WordPress dashboard by providing the credentials. Go to to see the admin login page.
  • Inside the dashboard, go to –

Appearance >> Editor

Theme Editor

  • By default, the primary theme will be selected. If you want to enable auto-update for a particular theme, then select the theme first.

Auto-update for a particular theme

  • Then, click on the functions.php from the right list.

Edit functions php

  • Inside the functions.php file, paste the following code –

add_filter( ‘auto_update_plugin’, ‘__return_true’ );


Note: This filter commands WordPress to install the latest plugins as soon as they come out.
  • Now click the “Update File” button at the bottom of the page. This will enable automatic plugin updates.

Update File

Note: This method works only for the theme that is currently applied. You need to go through the process again when you change the theme.

3. Enable auto-updates by using a plugin

Surprisingly, there are plugins for updating plugins. Yes, sounds weird right? You can install plugins to turn on auto-updates for your website’s plugins.

Although there are tons of plugins to do this, the process is the same for all. Advanced Automatic Updates is a very useful plugin for enabling auto-updates for all types of WordPress updates.

We will show a step-by-step guide to use this plugin.

First, install and activate Advanced Automatic Updates. If you don’t know how to install and activate a plugin, don’t worry. We have discussed various processes to install WordPress plugins manually.

Once the plugin is installed and activated, go to –

Settings >> Advanced Automatic Updates
Advanced Automatic Updates

You will find a variety of options for auto-updates. To enable automatic update for plugins, check the “Update your plugins automatically?” box

Update your plugins automatically

This will activate auto-updates for all your plugins. However, you can choose whether you want to enable automatic updates for themes and WordPress cores. This process makes enabling and disabling automatic updates a breeze.

Quick Tip:

You can get email notifications about automatic WordPress updates. While using Advanced Automatic Updates, you can receive debug information in your notification emails.

Select “Only when upgrading development versions (recommended Minimum)” for this.

This way, you can fix the update by checking the notification emails if your website gets broken.

Notification Email

How to disable automatic WordPress plugin updates

In WordPress 5.5 and higher versions, you can enable auto-updates as well as disable them. Bulk actions can do a lot of things now. You can use bulk action to disable auto-updates.

1. In your WordPress dashboard, go to –

Plugins >> Installed Plugins

Installed Plugins Option

2. Select the plugins that you don’t want to auto-update.

Disable Auto-updates

3. Select “Disable Auto-updates” from the drop-down. Then click on the “Apply” button to finish the task.

So far so good! You have understood how to disable auto-update using bulk actions.

Now, we will describe how to disable auto-updates for the very same methods that we have explained in this article for enabling auto-updates.

For disabling auto-update for our second method, get rid of the code from the functions.php file that we have mentioned earlier, which is this –

add_filter( 'auto_update_plugin', '__return_true' );

Our third method was enabling automatic plugin updates by using a plugin. Just uncheck the box that you have previously checked, which is under the Advanced Automatic Updates panel.

Article related to this topic: 20 best WordPress plugins in 2021

Pitfalls or issues of the automated plugin updating

Yes, we know enabling auto-updates for your plugins keeps you free from worries. But just as there are some consequences for almost any activity, there are also some drawbacks for enabling automatic plugin updates.

1. Fail in simultaneous auto-updates:

Suppose numerous plugins take significant time to update and concurrently, auto-update is enabled for all of them by wp-corn. In that case, auto-update may fail on the server because of overutilized resources. This can cause fatal errors to your site.

2. Vulnerability Issues:

Suppose you are running an older version of WordPress. As you have turned on auto plugin updates, some of them may occur vulnerability issues. This can potentially affect the overall performance of your website.

3. Difficult to figure out the root cause of the issue:

When several updates are running, you will not understand a certain change in your website. So when there is an issue, it will be hard for you to find out the root cause. There is no such possibility in manual plugin updating.

4. Decrease in efficiency and speed without your knowledge:

Enabling auto-updates for plugins in an eCommerce website has serious negative issues. Let’s say some of the WooCommerce plugins have updated automatically while you are on vacation. As a result, the checkout process has become almost impossible to operate. This will eventually reduce your sales.

Sometimes, plugin updates may cause your site to slow down. When there are several plugin updates slowing down your website, it will be hard to detect the actual cause.

5. Compatibility issues for major version release:

When there are big releases with significant changes to database and code, a plugin might not be compatible with your site anymore.

For example – there was a major version release of the Yoast SEO plugin in April 2020. This major update caused issues to many sites. Therefore, immediate patching was needed at that time.

When you enable auto plugin update, you don’t get to see the changes in the next version of a particular plugin. So, you can’t decide whether that version will be stable for your website or not. Auto-updates take away this freedom.

What is an automatic update for WordPress?

An automatic WordPress update is a process that prompts your website to automatically check for updates and install them. Ideally, this reduces the time-consuming activity for verifying or installing updates.

However, you can enjoy 2 benefits if you update plugins manually.

I. First, you can decide whether you want to update a particular version or not.

II. Second, you are in total control if anything goes wrong.

The main types of WordPress updates:

Mainly, there are 4 types of automatic updates for WordPress. Among all the updates, auto-updates can be enabled for 3 of them. You can’t enable auto-update for the other one.

WordPress Core Updates:

Core updates are crucial for WordPress itself. Especially for security and protection, the WordPress cores must remain updated. As a rule of thumb, you need to make sure you are running the latest WordPress version for core updates.

WordPress Plugin Updates:

We have already discussed updating WordPress plugins in this article. If you use a WordPress site, plugins and updating them are a must.

WordPress Theme Updates:

Just like plugins, themes are critically important for any WordPress site. Updating themes is also important as they come with a lot of functionalities and improvements. These improvements are either for security patches or aesthetic enhancements.

Translation File Updates:

Translation files are important for making multilingual websites. These files are packs of numerous languages. However, turning on auto-updates for translation files are rare.

When and for whom WordPress auto-update is not applicable:

Sometimes certain plugin updates can cause your website to behave unusually. Eventually, this can break the functionality of your site. Moreover, updating plugins can sometimes break the design of your website.

— When it comes to updates that include major improvements, it is often seen that they bring some changes to websites. Certain updates for third-party plugins and themes may cause vulnerability and compatibility issues.

On the other hand, auto plugin updates can override your preferable customization. So, you may want to go for manual updates if you don’t want to lose your customization.

With that being said, WordPress auto-update is not appropriate for all situations. Some WordPress admins are not comfortable enabling automation for plugins. This is because their websites appear to have some complex issues that can be ruined for automatic plugin updates.

Common questions people ask regarding WordPress auto plugin updates:

How often should I update WordPress plugins?

Ans: If auto-update isn’t enabled in your WordPress site, then you need to update the plugin at least twice a month. However, once a week is the ideal time to check for manual WordPress plugin updates.

Is it good to update WordPress plugins?

Ans: Definitely, because the updated versions of plugins are more functional than the previous ones. On top of that, many previous bugs have been fixed in the newer versions. Remember, — plugins are like apps for your WordPress site. Keeping them up to date is always a good idea. Updates for certain plugins will automatically apply changes on your site that were immediately needed.

Is WordPress auto-update safe?

Ans: Ignoring updates can compromise your website’s functionalities. You don’t want to miss the benefits of new patches to enhance security. At the same time, you don’t want to miss the fixes that come with updates for resolving vulnerabilities. On the contrary, some major updates can break your website. It is wise to turn off automatic updates for sensitive plugins.

Should I update WordPress before plugins?

Ans: For updating a single plugin, it doesn’t matter whether you update WordPress or plugin first. But in terms of major updates for multiple plugins, you can update the plugins first and test them on your current WordPress version. If every update runs smoothly, then you can update the WordPress version and reinstall the plugins. This will verify if the plugins will work properly in the latest WordPress version.

What’s the latest version of WordPress?

Ans: The latest WordPress version is 5.8 The 5.8 version was released on 20 July 2021.


All in all, enabling auto-updates for plugins depends on your perspectives. If you have read this article, you can already judge the benefits and drawbacks of automatic plugin updates. It is up to you to decide whether you want to enable automatic plugin updates on your website.

— We hope the latest WordPress versions clarify the compatibility and vulnerability issues so that everyone can turn on automatic plugin updates for their websites.

Editor Team

We are a group of WordPress experts (editorial team) from Themeim. All of these articles go through manual testing to reveal the ultimate outcome.