4. Automate, Plugins & Themes Updates
This document provides a walkthrough of Automate and the Plugins and Themes module available in Hub 2.0, including:
- Bulk Updates
- Automation with Safe Update Checks
- Automated backups
- Update scheduling
If you haven’t set up your WPMU DEV account yet, visit the WPMU DEV, where you can explore the features, see pricing packages, and start a free trial.
Already a member? Visit your Hub dashboard to get started.
4.1 Getting StartedCopy chapter anchor to clipboard
To access Automate and the Plugins & Themes section of your site from the Hub 2.0 My Sites page click on the site you would like to manage and click on the Plugins & Themes option in the site manager menu.
The Plugins & Themes update manager is organized into five tabbed modules:
Click on the tabs to navigate settings and sort available updates and actions available for your website.
4.2 PluginsCopy chapter anchor to clipboard
The Plugins tab lists all installed plugins sorted into three categories:
- Core – The WPMU DEV Dashboard plugin along with WordPress core updates
- Active – Plugins that are installed and activated on your website
- Inactive – Installed plugins that are not currently activated on your website
Use the checkboxes next to your plugins to perform individual or bulk actions for some or all of your plugins.
Plugin actions include:
- Activate – Activate the selected plugins on websites
- Deactivate – Deactivate the selected plugins on your website
- Delete – Remove the selected plugins from your website
- Add to Favorites (star) – (Using favorites for setting up new sites coming soon)
- Remove from Favorites (unstar) – remove the plugin from your sites plugins favorites list.
Click the WordPress logo next to any WPMU DEV plugin to go directly to the settings for that plugin. Depending on the plugin, the link will direct you to the appropriate page either in your site’s wp-admin or in your Hub.
Bulk manage plugins
Use the checkbox at the top of the screen to select all or deselect all if a group of plugin are selected. This allows you to quickly perform bulk actions.
Use the dropdown caret next to the checkbox to select or deselect:
- All – Select all plugins
- None – Deselect all
- Active – Only select active plugins
- Inactive – Only select the inactive plugins
Check the Hub plugins guide if you want to bulk manage plugins across several sites connected to your Hub.
When hovering over a plugin an empty star icon will appear next to the plugin name. Click the star icon to add the plugin to your plugin favorites list.
4.3 ThemesCopy chapter anchor to clipboard
The Themes tab functions in much the same way as the Plugins tab. It lists all installed themes and sorts them into two categories:
- Active – The theme that is installed and activated on your website
- Inactive – Themes that are installed but not currently activated on your website
The bulk actions at the top only contains a Delete option that can be used to bulk remove inactive themes. Click the wand icon next to the active theme to go directly to the Customizer in your site’s wp-admin.
When hovering over a Theme an empty star icon will appear next to the theme name. Click the star icon to add the theme to your favorites.
4.4 UpdatesCopy chapter anchor to clipboard
The Updates tab lists all available WordPress core, plugin, and theme updates. Updates are sorted into three categories:
- Core – WordPress core updates (see note below)
- Plugins – Installed Plugins that need an update
- Themes – Installed Themes that need an update
Click the Update button next to the core version, plugin, or theme to run the update.
Click on the version number of WPMU DEV plugins to open the changelog information about the available update. Close the changelog by click the X icon at the bottom of the screen.
Click the plug icon next to any listed theme or plugin to activate or deactivate it before updating.
Bulk manage Updates
Use the checkbox at the top of the screen to select all or deselect all if a group of updates are selected.
Use the dropdown caret next to the checkbox to select or deselect:
- All – Select to run all updates
- None – Deselect all selected updates before running
- Active – Only select the active plugins and themes to update
- Inactive – Only select the inactive plugins and themes to update
Don’t have the time to dive deep into updating your sites? Each site can easily be updated from Hub without even needing to navigate to the Themes & Plugins tab. Simply hover over the updates icon to view the dropdown menu for that site. This menu lists all of the available updates for your core, themes, and plugins.
Individual updates can be actioned by clicking Update. The loading bar next to the item you are updating will keep you informed of the progress of the update.
You can also trigger all of your updates at once by clicking Update all.
If the update fails, it will be indicated with a red Failed status. Click on Failed to reveal options to either Retry the update or to Update in WP Admin.
Syncing Updates data with your site
The Hub automatically checks for updates only once every 12 hours. So if you manually update some plugins in your site’s wp-admin, it is possible that the data may become out of sync in your Hub.
To remedy this issue, all you need to do is visit the Dashboard > Updates screen in your site admin at
../wp-admin/update-core.php, or click the Check Again link at the bottom of any screen of the WPMU DEV Dashboard in your site admin. Then refresh your Hub to view the synced updates data.
Core updates disabled?
If you or your host have added
define( 'WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE', false ); to your wp-config.php file to prevent automatic WordPress core updates, that will also affect both manual core updates and Automate core updates in your Hub, and prevent them from working as well.
If that constant is present in the wp-config.php file of your site and you try to update WordPress core, a notice will pop up to inform you of the issue. Please remove that code if you wish to use the core update features in your Hub.
Note that this same notice will appear if you have intentionally locked your site into a desired WordPress version using a plugin like Core Rollback.
Not ready to update? Check out our blog on Ignoring Updates For WordPress Core, Plugins, and Themes to find out why and how to ignore updates on your site.
4.5 AutomateCopy chapter anchor to clipboard
Automate is a safe way to automate WordPress core, theme, and plugin updates on your website.
Use safe updates to ensure your site does not break when it is updated. Automatically backup your website before updates so you don’t ever have to worry about updates or backups.
Get instant, daily, weekly, or monthly updates reports by email.
WPMU DEV members are authorized up to 10 free email accounts that can be configured in minutes to display the member’s domain in the email address. See our Email Hosting product page for details.
If Automate is not already activated on your site, click the “Get Started” button on the Automate tab to open the Quick Start setup wizard
The Quick Start setup wizard includes the following steps:
- Auto-update – Choose whether you want to automatically update everything or select which plugins and themes you would like to automatically update after the setup wizard is complete.
- Schedule Checks – Set how frequently Automate should check for updates.
- Auto Backup – Choose whether you want to automatically back up your entire site before each update. Note that on 3rd-party hosted sites, enabling this option will install our Snapshot plugin on the site.
- Safe Update Check – This scan will tell you if your site is down and show any visual change on your selected pages after updates have completed.
- Safe Update Alerts – Receive an email notification if Safe Update Check detects a change equal or more than the percentage value you set.
- Email Updates – Receive email summaries of Automate updates.
After running the Quick Start setup wizard, you can make changes to any of the selected configurations in the settings tab.
A detailed overview of each of these features is covered in the Automate Settings section below.
Automate Overview Tab
After Automate is set up, clicking Automate will open the Automate tab with:
- When your next update check will run
- A notice if backups are set to run with your update check
- A list of all installed core, themes, and plugins
Use the Auto update all toggle to enable auto-updates for everything on your website.
Use the toggle next to WordPress, or any specific plugin or theme, to enable or disable automatic updates for your individual core, themes or plugins.
Only the selected options will be updated on your website.
Any updates that have been ignored will be marked with an Update ignored tag. Please visit the Updates documentation for more information on ignoring and unignoring updates.
The Automate Activity Log tracks all your automated updates.
Activity Log information includes:
- Date – Day the action was run
- Time – When the action was run
- Action – What action was taken (Backup, Safe Update check, Plugin, Theme, Core)
- Note – Version number pass/fail message where applicable
- View result – Opens safe update check results
- What’s new – Opens available changelog for updated item
The Automate Settings tab opens all the available tools for managing scheduling, Safe Updates, backups, and alerts.
Schedule Checks defaults to check for updates every 6 hours. If you do not want to run checks at that frequency, clicking on the schedule opens a popup for customizing the time and days Automate runs update checks. As an example, you may not want to run backups over the weekend. Setting weekdays and a time, limits your update checks to only weekdays.
Click cancel to close the module without changing your Automate schedule or Save to save your schedule.
Choose if you want to set Auto Backups to automatically back up your entire site before each update. You can find Automate backups on the Backups tab.
Safe Update Check
Safe Update will take a screenshot of your pages before and after an update, compare the images, and if changes are detected notify you of potential problems. This scan will tell you if your site is down and show any visual change on your selected pages.
Click the Safe Update Check option to open a modal:
- Home Page – Choose Home Page to set only your Home Page for Safe Update scanning.
- Custom – Click the Add Page icon to add a custom URLs to run Safe Update scans on (You can add up to 4 custom URLs to scan)
- Inactive – Choose the no option to continue without setting up Safe Update.
Click the Save button when you’re done, or Close to exit without saving your changes. Click the blue toggle at the top of the modal to disable the feature if no longer needed.
Safe Update Alerts
If you choose to use Safe Updates you will be asked to set when notifications are sent based on change percentage. By default, the change percentage is set to 25%. Receive an email notification if Safe Update Check detects a change equal or more than the selected percentage value.
Click and drag the slider to the desired percentage of change. Then add the email address(es) of the recipient(s) who will receive notifications of any changes that are greater than that threshold.
Note that if Auto Backup is enabled, and the Safe Update runs into any trouble, like 3xx, 4xx or 5xx errors, the email it sends you will include a Restore Backup button. Clicking that button will take you to the backups screen in your Hub where you can easily restore the automatic pre-upgrade backup (or any other) if needed.
Choose if and when Automate reports are created and emailed to the designated recipients.
Click the drop-down menu to view the scheduling options.
- Every update
- Daily summary
- Weekly summary
- Monthly summary
- No (for no summary)
This is the email address Automate reports are sent to. Click the address to change the recipient. This address will default to the account admin.
Clicking the Deactivate link at the bottom of the settings screen will open the Deactivate Automate module. Confirm you want to deactivate Automate with the Yes button or click Cancel to close the module without saving your changes.
Clicking the Documentations link opens this usage document.
4.5.1 Failed UpdatesLink to chapter 5
Automate will alert you if updates are disabled for any plugin, theme or core WordPress. Updates are disabled if there are 3 consecutive update attempts that fail for that specific plugin, theme or core.
It’s important to note that even if you have Email Updates turned off, Automate will still send a notification to the address(es) you have set in the Email Recipients section if updates are disabled for any plugin, theme or core WordPress. However, if you have set Email Updates to email you with Every Update, the above emails will not be sent. This is to avoid sending you duplicate emails, as the failed updates information will already be included in the reports sent to the address(es) you have configured in Email Updates.
If Automate itself is disabled due to multiple consecutive failures, you will be emailed regardless of how Automate is configured.
Define Your Site URLs
If Automate fails repeatedly on your site, it may be due to a 301 redirect that is interfering. You can try adding the following constants to your wp-config.php file, before the line that says “That’s all, stop editing”. Be sure to change the URLs in each one to the correct ones for your site.
define( 'WPMUDEV_HUB_HOME_URL', 'https://your-site.com/' );
define( 'WPMUDEV_HUB_SITE_URL', 'https://your-site.com/' );
define( 'WPMUDEV_HUB_ADMIN_URL', 'https://your-site.com/wp/wp-admin' );
Allowlist WPMU DEV IP Addresses
Add WPMU DEV IP addresses to the allowlist in your firewall, security plugin, or CloudFlare account. See WPMU DEV IP Addresses for more info.