Docs / The Hub / Automate

2. Automate

Written by Savo Vujovic | Last updated: September 16, 2021

This guide explains how to use the Automate feature to update all your plugins, themes and WordPress files automatically, how to enable and schedule full backups and how to use our Safe Update system.

For Automate to be available, your site must be connected to The Hub. If you haven’t connected a site yet, see our Add A Site to The Hub documentation for a super simple walk-through.

When you’re ready, open your Hub, click a domain and then click the Automate tab.

2.1 Plugins and Themes

Copy chapter anchor to clipboard

First, choose which plugins/themes you would like to automatically update when a new version is released. You can auto update all plugins, themes and WordPress core files, or you can manually select specific ones:

2.2 WordPress Core Updates

Copy chapter anchor to clipboard

Some hosting providers (most notably Managed ones) disable WordPress Core Updates either via a specific define or lower folder rights and in those cases, Automate won’t be able to upgrade your WordPress core.

You can resolve this problem forever by moving your hosting to WPMU DEV Hosting, and your membership here may include hosting credits that can be applied toward the cost of sites hosted with us. See About Free Sites in our Getting Started doc for more info on that.

Disable WordPress Core update define
In case WordPress Core define is present (that disabled core updates), open your WordPress files (using FTP/SFTP, built in File Manager in your Hosting Panel or via a File Manager plugin) and navigate to wp-config.php file (located in public_html folder). Open wp-config.php and remove “define( ‘WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE’, false );” from it.

Folder rights
In case your hosting provider is forcing lower folder permissions (which disables write and execute permissions) contact your Hosting provider so they can sort this issue for you.


Sites hosted by WPMU DEV always receive minor WordPress core updates automatically whether Automate is enabled or not.

2.3 Auto backup before every update

Copy chapter anchor to clipboard

Next, select if you would like a Full Automate Managed Backup of your site before each update so you can easily ‘one-click restore’ if something goes wrong (this is done via our Snapshot Pro plugin if you’re managing a third party hosted site and if you are setting Automate on our hosted site this will be auto set to use our hosting built-in system backups).

We highly recommend using backups in both cases (third party or our hosted sites):

In case you didn’t install/configure Snapshot Pro yet, our system will prompt/guide you to do so:

Press on the TURN ON NOW button and then on the INSTALL SNAPSHOT button:

After installing, run a quick backup of your site, just to check if everything is set up properly:

When the backup is complete, return to the Automate tab and enable the Auto backup before every update feature:


Automate Managed Backups work separately from our standard Managed Backups but they will still use your WPMU DEV Cloud storage. Automate backups are always set to keep 30 backups before removing the oldest one from the archives (this can not be changed). This limit does not interfere with your regular Managed Backups limit in any way and these backups will appear as “” in your Backups tab while standard Managed Backups are displayed as “”.

2.4 Perform Safe Upgrade check

Copy chapter anchor to clipboard

Perform safe Upgrade check will scan your site after every update, checking if your site is down (using Uptime monitoring) and will present you with any visual changes on your selected pages (these visual changes will be sent to your email and shown under the Activity Log tab).

You can add up to 5 pages to our Perform Safe Upgrade check:

To quickly explain the Update procedure, Automate checks your site every 6 hours and when an update is detected:

  1. A full backup of your site is done (if the backup fails for any reason, the update procedure will stop and a new backup will be attempted – see below)
  2. Automate will perform an update of the 1st plugin/theme detected (if the update fails for any reason a new attempt will be made – see below)
  3. Perform safe upgrade checks if your site is down and if there are any visual changes on your Home Page greater than the set threshold
  4. If everything went well, the above three steps are repeated until all the updates are done.


  • After 3 failed update attempts for a plugin/theme/core Automate will disable updates for that specific product
  • After 6 consecutive failed backups Automate will be disabled altogether

This feature allows you to select the email address where you would like to receive the update notifications (by default, Automate sends these reports to the email registered to your WPMU DEV account), and how often (by default this is done for Every update).

You can change the notification frequency and the email receiving your Update reports in the pop-up module:

Note: WMPU DEV hosted email account will be automatically subscribed but any third party email entered here must opt-in first. You can track the status of your recipient by opening this module and checking their status underneath the email field.


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.

2.6 Instant email alerts

Copy chapter anchor to clipboard

As the tooltip suggests, Instant Email Alerts will send out an instant notification to your desired email (by default, the email of your WPMU DEV account is set here) if the Safe Upgrade detected changes on your desired pages which are equal to or greater than the set threshold (predefined value is 25% but you can modify that and set a value between 1-99%):

Note: Email of your WPMU DEV account will be automatically subscribed but any third party email entered here must opt-in first. You can track the status of your recipient by opening this module and checking their status underneath the email field.

2.7 Scheduled Automate

Copy chapter anchor to clipboard

As mentioned before, Automate checks your site every 6 hours and if an available update is detected the update procedure is run. If you want this procedure ran at a specific time (for example, during your working hours) you can set the schedule here:

Note: For Automate to work its magic, our Hub needs to detect that you have updates available. Hub checks your site every 12 hours and syncs plugin/theme status but if you visit your site this trigger will happen immediately.

Timezone can be modified from your account page

That’s it! Press “Done” once you configured everything and enjoy your auto-updates :)

All the previous logs and activities performed by Automate can be viewed under Automate/Activity Log tab:

You can expand your updated plugins/themes to view the Changelogs or the Safe Upgrade Check report:

If you have any additional questions, our experts will be right by your side at