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4. Automate, Plugins & Themes Updates

Written by Luke Britt & Joshua | Last updated: April 6, 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

Link to chapter 1

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:

  • Plugins
  • Themes
  • Updates
  • Automate
  • Logs

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

4.2 Plugins

Link to chapter 2

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 – (Using favorites for setting up new sites coming soon)
  • Remove from Favorites – remove the plugin from your sites plugins favorites list.

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 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.

Plugins Tools

Click the three dots located to the left of your plugin name to open the tools dropdown.

  • Open in WP Admin – Open to the plugin on your sites dashboard
  • Deactivate – For plugins active on your site click to deactivate
  • Activate – For plugins not activated, click the activate button to activate the plugin
  • Delete – This option is only available for plugins that are not activated

4.3 Themes

Link to chapter 3

The Themes tab lists all installed themes. Themes are sorted 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

Favorite Themes (coming soon)

When hovering over a Theme an empty star icon will appear next to the plugin name. Click the star icon to add the plugin to your Themes favorites list. Use your list of Favorite Themes to quickly set up new websites in the “Add Themes” area.

Themes Tools

Click the three dots located to the left of your theme name to open the tools dropdown.

  • Customize – Opens the customizer on the dashboard of the website
  • Live preview – For inactive themes, click Live preview to open the live preview mode on the dashboard of the website
  • Activate – Click to make an inactive theme the websites active theme
  • Delete – This option is only available for themes that are inactive and will delete the theme from your site

4.4 Updates

Link to chapter 4

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.

Clicking on the version number of WPMU DEV plugins open changelog information about the available update. Close the changelog by click the X icon at the bottom of the screen.

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 carrot 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

4.5 Automate

Link to chapter 5

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.

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

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

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 you 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.

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.

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.

4.6 Activity Log

Link to chapter 6

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

Link to chapter 7

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.