According to PluginTable.Com, UpdraftPlus is now in the top-30 of all-time plugin downloads for WordPress plugins, with over 1.9 million downloads.

Thanks again to everybody who’s made this possible. We’re not finished yet, God-willing… please keep downloading and recommending, and we’ll use that support to take it to another level. It needs a lot to climb once you’re in top 40 – but the next target is 2 million, and then after that eventually the top 25… stay tuned!

David Anderson (founder, lead developer, UpdraftPlus)

Next up in our occasional “recommended plugin” series is…  “Redirection”.

It does one thing, and does it well – something that always appeals to site builders looking to develop knowledge of a set of tools that can cover them in any common situation.

What does it do? Simply put, it redirects: users who click on a link (i.e. URL) can be sent to a different link instead.

For example, perhaps you have some old links, www.example.com/oldstuff, that people are still clicking on, even though you no longer have content there. (e.g. An old marketing campaign, or previous version of your site). Do you want those people to just see a 404 page, or something that’ll keep them on the site?

The same can be achieved by editing a .htaccess file in your WordPress directory, but…

  • That only works if your webserver is Apache (around 90% of the time)
  • That requires you to learn about the .htaccess language
  • Using a plugin is portable – you won’t need to remember to copy your .htaccess file when moving hosting companies; it’s part of your WordPress install already
  • The plugin can also log redirections and give you statistics on what it’s been up to

“Redirection” is a mature plugin with 2.2 million downloads, so is well-tried and tested. The only issue we’ve ever had with it is too much logging – you’ll want to check your default settings to see what’s being logged, so that if you have a very high-volume site, then your database doesn’t begin to slow down due to unnecessary information.

With that many downloads, you can tell that it’s something that a lot of people often need to do. Keep this plugin in mind, and when you need to, you’ll be ready too!

David Anderson (founder, lead developer, UpdraftPlus)

This post is an addendum to yesterday’s announcement of the release of UpdraftPlus 1.9.60.

With this release, we are in fact changing to a new version numbering schemes for paid versions of UpdraftPlus – the first digit will increase by 1.

That is to say, that for versions of UpdraftPlus obtained from updraftplus.com, this version will appear as version 2.9.60 (not 1.9.60). (Actually, it will appear as 2.9.60.x, where x could range from 1 to 19, depending on what you have bought).

You can stop reading now unless you are curious about knowing why… you could well have better things to do with your day!

So, why are we doing that?

The main reason is because of a defect in WordPress’s updates checking mechanism, mentioned previously in this blog post. By default, WordPress checks for the availability of updates to a plugin at wordpress.org – which is where most plugins come from. But, no paid plugins come from there (since wordpress.org do not host any paid plugins). A paid plugin can provide its own override, and get WordPress to check elsewhere.

However… when a plugin is inactive, this override cannot occur. When inactive, the plugin has no chance to inform WordPress of the right place to look. And so, WordPress checks at wordpress.org – which is a problem for plugins that have both paid and free versions. (Technically, for paid plugins where there’s a plugin of the same name in the free wordpress.org directory, even if it’s not the same plugin).

We’ve written a patch for WordPress to correct this defect, but not yet succeeded in getting it accepted into new WordPress releases. It’s just been waiting for attention in the WordPress issue-tracker since being written. We hope it’ll be accepted one day. But until that day, we’re just going to raise the version number of the paid version of UpdraftPlus, so that it will always be higher than that of free versions available at wordpress.org – so that WordPress will never offer to replace your paid version with a free one.

David Anderson (founder, lead developer, UpdraftPlus)

UpdraftPlus 1.9.60 is in the process of being released, and should appear in your dashboard in the next day or two. As ever, it’s a recommended updated for everyone.

This release has a few interesting changes and improvements in it:

  • “Automatic backups” in your dashboard are now no-longer time-limited by the details of your web-hosting setup. Automatic backups are a great feature, and unique to UpdraftPlus (Premium) – they cause a backup to be taken automatically before you update a plugin, theme or WordPress core from your dashboard, so that you have a backup in case the update ends up breaking your site (as WordPress SEO’s update did for lots of people yesterday…) – without having to think about it. Previously, this used a mechanism which was time-limited; and cheap/slow web hosts, or enormous sites, had trouble with it. We’ve now changed the mechanism so that these backups can resume and carry on until they finish. As a bonus, as part of this change, they’re now  prettier too. Automatic backup running
  • “Backup Now” can now overcome broken WordPress schedulers. This is particularly useful for developers taking a one-time backup of a site (e.g. they are cloning it in order to rebuild it, etc.), and who don’t want to spend time on finding out why the scheduler is broken. As long as the UpdraftPlus settings page is open, the backup will be able to resume and carry on – there is now basic scheduling carried out on the browser, so you don’t need to rely on WordPress itself not being broken.
  • Amazon S3 back-end now supports Frankfurt (“EU Central 1″) and China regions (again). Amazon recently began requiring use of a new protocol to store data in the Frankfurt/China regions. UpdraftPlus now includes an all-new S3 storage back-end which supports this. This change is under-the-hood – you should not notice any difference, except these regions now being available.

There are many other small tweaks for convenience too; some of the more interesting ones are:

  • Database backup files can now be handled when uncompressed – i.e., you can remove the gzip compression, and use the resulting file (useful for large backups on slow/limited hosting: pre-decompressing the file will reduce the processing time needed).
  • Make sure that activity is recorded periodically when adding database tables to the final database backup (we found a site with over 7,500 tables (a default WordPress setup has around ten!) – which, with this tweak, works perfectly).
  • Added a free/Premium comparison table to the free version. Find it in the “Add-ons” tab on your UD settings page.
  • Importer (part of UpdraftPlus Premium – for importing 3rd-party backups) can now import generic .sql, .sql.gz and .sql.bz2 files. It can also now import the latest BackupWordPress format databases
  • Updated translations in several languages (many thanks for our translators)

The full changelog will appear shortly at this link.

Once again – if you’ve not yet upgraded to our flagship product, UpdraftPlus Premium, which includes all features and 12 months of updates and personal support, then please do take a look. We believe it’s the best backup plugin in existence for WordPress in 2015,  as well as being the most downloaded (approaching 1.9 million in total now) and we’ve got many more plans for it.

David Anderson (founder, lead developer, UpdraftPlus)

WordPress 4.1.1 has just been released – a bug-fix release for the 4.1 series.

Happily, the list of changes is not very exciting. “No news is good news.” It’s interesting, going by that list, to note that WordPress doesn’t seem to be getting much testing on Internet Explorer versions less than IE 10.

Also – they fixed a WordPress bug that we weren’t aware of until now, that stopped paid plugins (such as UpdraftPlus) from displaying in the list of plugin updates. This shouldn’t have affected UpdraftPlus users as much as others, as the plugin also displays its own notice in its settings screen if an update is available.

Most people should need to do nothing – WordPress automatically updates itself in the background for minor releases like this one. But it never hurts to make sure your site is backed up first, just in case. UpdraftPlus Premium includes an “automatic backup” feature that will do this for you – even before WordPress’s background updates, so that you’re always covered.

David Anderson (founder, lead developer, UpdraftPlus)

(This article comes this week instead of our regular “recommended plugin” feature – though we do recommend WooCommerce!).

The growth of WooCommerce has been amazing – it’s not just WordPress’s most popular e-commerce plugin; it’s now the Internet’s most popular e-commerce solution (around a 20% market-share, last time I saw it mentioned). WooCommerce powers updraftplus.com, and has done since we first launched a dedicated UD website in February 2013.

The latest major WooCommerce update has just been released – the 2.3, “Handsome Hippo” series. In WooCommerce version-numbering, a change to the second part of the version number indicates a major release. So, this is the first major release since 2.2, back in September 2014.

What do you need to know?

1. You very likely don’t want to update yet

This really is the first thing that should be said with a new major WooCommerce release… whatever is in it, or is not in it – wait before upgrading (and then be careful)!

Why? The WooCommerce team don’t have the same outlook upon major updates as the WordPress core team do.

With WordPress core, the developers make it a goal to make sure that all plugins remain compatible with new releases. Nothing that’s correctly written for a previous WordPress release ought to break with a new one, if at all possible. This isn’t 100% achievable in reality of course – there are around 35,000 WordPress plugins out there – but their track record is very good.

However, this is not a goal of the WooCommerce developers. They have a different view: that developers of WooCommerce extensions should track WooCommerce development as new versions are being created, and be ready with new releases of their extensions in time for the WooCommerce release, if one is needed. WooCommerce developers are more relaxed about making changes that can break extensions – their view is that the extension authors, and shop owners, need to make sure that they have compatible extensions – i.e. don’t update your website until you do.

WooCommerce releases also tend to come fairly quickly after the first announcement of beta and “release candidate” versions. In practice, not all extension authors will have their extensions tested and ready before the WooCommerce release. Even if they do, the time they’ve had to do so may be more limited than they’d have liked. Bugs may remain.

Which approach is best (and for who!), etc., is not the point here. We’re interested in what it means in practice, if you’re running a shop. In practice, it boils down to this:

  1. Certainly don’t update WooCommerce until you’ve checked out whether your extensions are compatible with the new major version. (Either that they have a release that is marked as compatible, or that the extension author has stated that the existing version is already fully compatible).
  2. You’d be wise to wait at least a couple of weeks before updating WooCommerce at all. The rapid pace of development (which is great – we all love new capabilities and new ways to sell more and better!) means that new WooCommerce releases are likely to have lots of bugs that will be ironed out in the coming days. The changelog for WooCommerce bears this out – and in fact, the 2.3 series has already had two releases with multiple bug-fixes in the 24 hours since 2.3 came out.
  3. You really ought to (and WooCommerce always recommend this) making a clone of your shop, and updating that and testing everything on it, before you update the live shop itself. There’s a great backup/clone/restore plugin we recommend for doing that! ;-)

Our sister company produces a few WooCommerce plugins. These are all tested and the current releases (new releases were made for some) are all compatible with WooCommerce 2.3 (and 2.2 and 2.1 and 2.0!):

2. So, what’s in WooCommerce 2.3?

Why update anyway? Ultimately, of course, future security issues will only be fixed in the current WooCommerce major series – you’ll want to make sure that if a security problem is found in WooCommerce (as they are, from time to time; again, see the changelog), that you can make a simple minor update within the series instead of needing to be thinking of all the issues of a major update instead. And, extensions you buy in the future will be most tested (if not only compatible with) the latest WooCommerce release. But, beyond that – what are the goodies in WooCommerce 2.3?

The major elements are…

Design

The “Handsome Hippo” contains a front-end and back-end design refresh. The new design is intended to go along more with current “flat design” trends. If you have a dedicated WooCommerce theme, then this may not affect you – but it likely will if you’re using the default WooCommerce theme. So, be aware that updating might make a significant change to the look-and-feel of your shop.

There are some other minor design and usability tweaks – e.g. making it easier to remove items from your cart, and a way to “undo” if you removed something you didn’t mean to.

Geo-location

Shoppers can now have their location detected (via their IP address), and have taxes shown appropriately for their location. This is handy for people selling digital goods to EU buyers, who have taxes that vary according to the buyers’ location. (This will be true for physical goods also in 2016). This is not a complete EU VAT compliance solution – but it helps. (To get a fuller solution, use something like this plugin).

Coupon and tax changes

WooCommerce’s previous “apply coupon after taxes” feature, which complied with no known tax law anywhere in the world, is now gone. (There might have been some clever uses, such as combined with store credits, where it might have been compliant). Unfortunately, this used to be the default setting… but happily, you’ll never be able to use it again!

Also, sales reports charts now separate sales from taxes – so that you can compare your sales without needing to also look at whether the increase in sales was actually just because your customers paid more taxes today and not a real increase (again, this is more likely to affect you if your taxes vary, like in an EU digital VAT situation).

The rest is mostly under the hood

There’s other minor stuff… but that’s not a hugely exciting list of changes, is it? The reason is that there’s been more stuff “under the hood” that will get developers interested, and pave the way for new ways of interacting with WooCommerce (think: better mobile apps and integrations with third-party services). All that stuff is in lead developer Mike Jolley’s post, here.

3. Executive summary, please!

  • WooCommerce is still growing and moving forward. It’s a great solution for a lot of people, and the they’re still building for the future.
  • Major releases can break things. Wait, then update carefully, and check the compatibility of your add-ons and test on a cloned site first (use UpdraftPlus!).
  • There are some design changes (so, be aware that your shop may look a little different in places), and other minor tweaks – nothing earth-shattering.

David Anderson (founder, lead developer, UpdraftPlus)

We’re certainly pretty chuffed when we read reviews like this…

“I’ve used most of the other plugins like BackWPUp, BackupBuddy, Duplicator, VaultPress, etc, and none compare to the free features found in UpdraftPlus out of the box, and the premium add-ons offer even more value at very reasonable prices. It offers scheduled backups, offsite uploads to Dropbox, and easy restoration. I’ve had more than one site time out trying to do backups of all the folders at once, and UpdraftPlus is one of the only ones that split everything up into the separate folders, including the plugins, themes, uploads, DB, and other folders, and each one can be downloaded and easily restored independently. Love it and use it on every single one of my sites, and I highly recommend it to all of my customers.

Rob”

https://wordpress.org/support/topic/most-reliable-and-does-it-all

We’ve just received a couple of support requests, one from a Bluehost customer and one from a Justhost customer. These customers had both received identical emails from the their hosting companies (are these two companies the same? I don’t know).

These emails advised them that, because of the security issue found in UpdraftPlus last week (not in UpdraftPlus Premium, or if you had either of a couple of specific add-ons), they were going to automatically “upgrade” these customers’ installs of UpdraftPlus, in the next 48 hours.

Both of these customers were using UpdraftPlus Premium – which had no security problem – but the emails from Justhost/Bluehost seemed to indicate that they were going to “upgrade” to a free version. (This was implied in the version number they said they would “upgrade” to). It looked rather like neither company was aware that both a free and Premium version of UpdraftPlus exist, and may be about to replace one with the other.

Therefore, if you are with either hosting company, we recommend that you update UpdraftPlus to its latest version (which is currently 1.9.52), whether you have a vulnerable plugin or not, and whether you are on the free version or not. Doing so will avoid your hosting company potentially blundering its way in and replacing your paid version of UpdraftPlus with a free one. This is especially urgent if you receive an email from your hosting company indicating that they might be about to do so. And, if you’re on another hosting company, you may as well do it anyway – just in case.

If you did receive an email like this from Justhost or Bluehost (or anyone else), then there was a further inaccuracy in it – it stated that the security issue did not require any special access to leverage; whereas, our report (and Sucuri’s) states the real situation; that it required a valid WordPress login to exploit.

David Anderson (founder, lead developer, UpdraftPlus)

UpdraftPlus 1.9.52 has been released, for paying users only – because the sole issue fixed in it only applies to paid versions.

An issue was discovered, whereby if were migrating a site with a very large options table, then the search/replace of the old/new site URL could be prematurely aborted. This issue appears to be extremely difficult to trigger – it is in a section of code that has not changed in the last year. But nevertheless – there’s no reason not to update.

David Anderson (founder, lead developer, UpdraftPlus)

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UpdraftPlus is a trade mark of Simba Hosting Limited (www.simbahosting.co.uk), UK registered company number: 8570611, VAT number: 202 1260 80

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