Is your WordPress site too old?

When you find your WordPress site has been neglected for far too long, sometimes trying to update it can be a huge problem.

We get a lot of support requests to help update old WordPress installs. If your site has not been kept regularly up-to-date, clicking the blue update button can often take down your site.

Below are 5 reasons why your site might experience technical difficulties if it’s very out-of-date.

1. Your hosting company has upgraded PHP on your server and WordPress has stopped working.

With old WordPress sites, you can often find that the theme you are using or plugins installed on your site simply won’t work with the new 7.X versions of PHP.

Most hosting companies no longer allow older versions of PHP to be used as support for PHP 5.X has ended.

If your WordPress site is old (see version stats here), there’s a very good chance that some of the code or plugins used will throw errors or stop your WordPress site from working completely.

These easy-to-fix WordPress errors may be visible to visitors to your site and can damage your conversions. Obviously a site that doesn’t work at all is even worse.

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2. Your WordPress theme is just too old.

Even if your WordPress install is up-to-date, if your theme is really old, this can also cause issues.

These can include PHP errors outlined in the first point, but can also cause plugin conflicts that can take your site down.

If your site was built on a free theme that’s no longer being supported or your bought a premium theme and have let the support lapse, you could face errors on your site.

Free WordPress themes can often be great at the time of install, but if the author decides to stop updating the theme, it gradually gets old and more out of date, leading to problems on your WordPress site.

If you’ve bought a theme, it’s often very common for the licence to not be renewed. Given that people often inherit WordPress sites when they change jobs, it’s all-to-easy for registration and renewal emails and details to get lost.

If your site is seriously out-of-date, it can also sometimes mean that you simply can’t update your theme at all.

3. You’ve let plugin licences lapse.

This is another issue we see a lot. Often, when developers build your site for you, they may install plugins that they own the licences for. Over time, as you change developers or people move on, these licences stop working.

This can be down to you not renewing them or the agency that built the site revoking the licence as they no longer have you as a client.

Whilst these plugins will continue to work, the all-important updates will not be available to you and over time, old plugins can also stop your site working properly or cause massive security problems for your site, leaving you open to WordPress getting hacked.

4. Your WordPress page builder plugin is out-of-date.

Similar to the plugin issues mentioned in point three, this issue is one that we see the most often.

WordPress page builder plugins are great tools to give you more control over the layout and content on your website, but they are seriously complicated plugins.

Again, you may have let a licence lapse, or simply didn’t know you needed one, but a non-working page builder plugin effectively renders your site useless.

Best-case is that is simply doesn’t work, so buying a new licence and updating it might fix the problem. Worst-case is that your site stops working altogether.

5. You have a badly-built WordPress site.

Many WordPress sites we provide support for are custom-built.

This means that rather than using an off the shelf theme, the developers built a custom one.

These themes can often be the bastardisation of a free theme or a full custom build on a bare-bones framework.

Either way, updating custom-built WordPress sites can be problematic, especially if the developers have hard-coded elements.

So is your WordPress install too old?

If you are running anything older than WordPress 5.0 we’d recommend updating your site.

If you can’t actually see what version of WordPress you are using, it might mean that your developers have actually removed the ability for you to update your site (this is often done to try and tie you in on a support contract).

The older your version of WordPress, the more likely you are going have issues when you do update it, so it’s best left to the professionals.

We generally clone problematic sites to our own servers so we can take a proper look at everything without risking errors on your live site.

Our process is as follows:

  1. Clone your live site to our servers.
  2. Update WordPress, plugins and themes to identify where the errors are
  3. Fix what’s fixable – it could be a few lines of code or mean swapping out a plugin or two
  4. Advice on the best course of action for your site

It’s important to remember that while WordPress is as future-proof as can be, sometimes things do reach end-of-life.

In the worst cases we’ve seen, this has meant a complete theme rebuild, but it doesn’t always come to that.

So what should you do next?

If you’ve recently tried to update a really old WordPress site and are experiencing problems, we can help.

We’ll take a look at your site, plugins and theme and can advise on the best way of solving your WordPress issues.

If your site is down after an update, we can also help with a WordPress quick fix to get things back up and running as soon as possible.

Call us on 01295 266644 to get immediate help.

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David Foreman

David Foreman

Dave is the Managing Director at Toast and has been working with websites for over 25 years. He's a WordPress expert and has built 100s of WP sites. He now mainly works in improving organic SEO for clients.