Docs / Hub 2.0 / Automate, Plugins & Themes Updates

4. Automate, Plugins & Themes Updates

Written by Luke Britt, Patrick Cohen & 1 other | Last updated: December 4, 2020

This document provides a walkthrough of Automate and the Plugins and Themes module available in Hub 2.0, including:

  • Automate
  • Bulk Updates
  • Grouping
  • 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 Started

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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.

Hub 2.0 Plugins and Themes overview

The Plugins & Themes update manager is organized into five tabbed modules:

  • Plugins
  • Themes
  • Updates
  • Automate
  • Logs

Click on the tabs to navigate settings and sort available updates and actions available for your website.

IMPORTANT

If you 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 from your Hub, and prevent them from working as well. Please remove that code if you wish to use the core update features in your Hub.

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

Hub2 plugins updates

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 Favorite (unstar)s – 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.

Hub 2.0 Bulk Manage plugins

Use the dropdown carrot 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

Favorite Plugins

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.

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

Hub2 themes manage options

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.

Favorite Themes (coming soon)

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.

The Updates tab lists all available WordPress core, plugin, and theme updates. Updates are sorted into three categories:

  • Core – WordPress core updates
  • 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.

Hub2 core, plugin & theme updates

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.

Hub2 core, plugin & theme updates bulk options

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

Quick Updates

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.

updates dropdown menu

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.

individual update progress bar

You can also trigger all of your updates at once by clicking Update all.

update all button

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.

failed update retry options

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.

DID YOU KNOW?

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.

Setup

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

Hub 2.0 Automate activate screen

The Quick Start setup wizard includes:

  • Auto Update selector – Set auto-update for all your plugins and themes
  • Auto update all – Set your site to automatically update everything on a schedule you select
  • I’ll do it manually – Choose 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 – Automatically back up your entire site before each update
  • Safe Update Check – This scan will tell you if your site is down and show any visual change on your selected pages
  • Safe Auto Alerts – Receive an email notification if Safe Update Check detects a change equal or more than the selected percentage value
  • Email Updates – Receive Automate email updates

Hub2 Automate setup

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.

Hub2 Automate overview

Only the selected options will be updated on your website.

Settings

The Automate Settings tab opens all the available tools for managing scheduling, Safe Updates, backups, and alerts.
Schedule Checks
Schedule Checks defaults to check for updates every 3 hours. If you do not want to run checks every three hours, 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.
Auto Backup
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 close button to continue without saving your changes or Save.
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 the Custom button to change the percentage 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.

Automate restore button in safe upgrade email
Email Updates
Choose if and when Automate reports are created and emailed to the designated recipients.

Click the drop-down menu to view the scheduling options.

Options include:

  • Every update
  • Daily summary
  • Weekly summary
  • Monthly summary
  • No (for no summary)

Email Recipient
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.


Deactivate Automate
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.

Documentation

Clicking the Documentations link opens the Automate usage documentation.

The Theme & Plugins Activity Log tracks all your updates, both manual and 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

4.7 Automate & Updates Support

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Need help managing or setting up WordPress, theme, or plugin updates in the Hub 2.0? WPMU DEV members get access to 24/7 live support.