>Basic WordPress admin
There are basically three reasons why WordPress, themes and plugins are updated.
They are to
- patch a security hole or vulnerability
- address compatibility issues with other component of WordPress
- add new functionality or features
Many people think of updates only in relation to new functionality or features.
When you understand that many updates are made to patch a security holes or vulnerabilities then you start to realise the importance of keeping everything up-to-date.
There is always a risk when updating that an update will not be compatible other system components and may even break your website. For this reason you should perform a backup prior to performing any updates.
On mission critical systems that can’t afford down time it is advisable to have a test/development system with a copy of the the live website where you can first apply the update and check for any issues.
How often should you check for updates?
You should frequently check for updates but if you are not monitoring your site on a regular basis then you should schedule a check for updates at least once a month.
I use InfiniteWP. In addition to saving heaps of time there are also add-ons available including some security related such as malware scanning.
The same rules about backing up first and testing updates for mission critical systems apply.