It is common for WordPress site owners to face various troubles after an update, particularly after a major update. Many of the site owners do not update their WordPress sites out of fear of breaking changes. Not updating WordPress can invite a worse time-consuming situation, apart from the chance of getting exposed to various security risks. We have an article on this topic published 11 years back – How to Upgrade WordPress without Problems. Unfortunately, WordPress became more complex with time and fixing an odd issue can be complex.
Keep Your Server Updated
It is highly important to keep your server operating system, MySQL, PHP and Apache/Nginx updated. At present if your server is using the latest Ubuntu LTS, with the latest MySQL, with the latest Apache, with PHP 7.x then the problems with updating WordPress is less complex. When the error at the front end after updating WordPress comes from PHP version or MySQL version issues then fixing a broken WordPress becomes difficult.
Use a Test/Dev Server
In modern days, we avoid suddenly pushing a change in the production server. Any software engineer fears the breaking of changes. It is deadly if the production server becomes non-functional. Hence, these days few ever directly apply untested updates or patches.
So, before updating your WordPress site, spin a virtual server with something like 4GB RAM and make the backend an exact replica of a production site. It is tricky to use a dev server. VPSDime uses OpenVZ technology and they offer cheap high-quality virtual servers. If you use Linode, DO etc for the test server then your bill will be very high.
You do not need the most updated MySQL database from the production site. You need the plugins, themes, and PHP snippets to be the same on the dev server.
Take Backups, if Possible Manually
We have various articles on how to back up WordPress. You can look at our articles such as How to Backup WordPress Site Manually via SSH and take a backup.
Test the backup, at least the MySQL backup. A backup which does not work as desired is a nightmare.
Read the Official Document
It is important to read the official document written on this topic.
Always disable some plugins such as that cache, backup, syntax highlighting, analytics etc. Also, disable MySQL/MariaDB caching.
Research on How to Fix the Common Errors
When a WordPress site is not working after an update, the first work is to disable the plugins and custom theme from FTP. That is easy – simply renaming their folders disables them. Check the
.htaccess file, and restart MySQL/MariaDB and Apache.
Do not panic. As because you are under stress, you can commit mistakes. Start a screen recorder application and do trial and error. The recorded video will help you to remind what you have done.
Your Site is Not Dead if You Have a MySQL Backup and FTP Files
When you have a dev/test server, you are 80-90% sure that your present themes, plugins and PHP snippets work with the WordPress version. When you have a MySQL backup and FTP files, then your site can not be down forever.
12 years back, our site was hacked and it was down for a week. Technologies and bandwidth were limited at that time. Yet, there was no major impact on SEO. You can always hire a professional within your budget from WordPress Jobs site.
You can arrange a server with an identical configuration, change the IP address at the DNS host to point towards this new installation and try to upgrade. If the upgrade fails, you can switch the IP address within a few seconds to the old, working WordPress installation.