Clients frequently ask me if it is safe to update the default WordPress Themes. This is what you need to know.
Why Update a WordPress Default theme?
Updating the core themes may add new functionality to your website. Last month WordPress 4.0 was released. With it came Custom Headers and a Theme Customizer. Updating the core WordPress themes will add these new features. You can read more about the WordPress 3.4 enhancements here.
If you are using one of the core themes and you have made modifications to the theme files updating will overwrite your changes and your website will revert to the standard theme appearance. Your modifications will be lost.
Child themes are the recommended way of making modifications to a theme.
What is a Child Theme?
A WordPress child theme is a theme that inherits the functionality of another theme, called the parent theme, and allows you to modify, or add to, the functionality of that parent theme.
When the parent theme is updated, your modifications are preserved.
What is your current theme?
Determine what theme is the currently active theme — Go to -> Appearances -> Themes
Is it safe to update the theme?
- If the theme is not active the updates won’t affect your website appearance — go ahead and update the themes
- If you are using theme and you have not modified the theme files in any way — go ahead and update the themes
- If you are using a child theme and that’s where you’ve made your modifications — go ahead and update the themes
- If you are using the theme as your active theme and you’ve modified the theme — don’t update the themes. You need to move your modifications to a child theme before updating
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