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Comparing How to Keep Plugins Updated in WordPress

April 27, 2022


Managing Plugins on WordPress


Managing plugins on WordPress is an important part of maintaining a site for functionality and security. On Managed WordPress at Nexcess there are options available for you to use for plugin updates.

Tools Provided by Nexcess

  • Visual Comparison - located in your portal, and visually tests plugin updates before updating.
  • Plugins - with most managed WordPress and Managed WooCommerce plans we bundle iThemes Sync Pro and iThemes Security Pro, both of which have their own way of providing plugin updates.

Tools Built into WordPress

  • WordPress Automatic Updates - natively built and located in wp-admin on WordPress.

Visual Comparison


We offer Visual Comparison, a tool in your portal that will run approximately every 48 hours and conditionally check on various plugins to see if they are available for an update within the wordpress.org public repository. The tool only checks plugins that meet the following criteria:

  • Free plugins in the WordPress repository
  • Only Active Plugins
  • Only plugins on production sites, staging site are skipped
  • The toggle for plugin updates must be set to ON
  • Plugins only, not themes
  • Currently only runs on sites 10G in size or less

To accomplish this, the Visual Comparison Tool will automatically create a copy or stage your production website, where it will update the plugins, and give you the ability to see what changes the plugin update would make to your site. If your plugin does not pass the visual comparison difference, Visual Comparison will safely choose NOT to update that plugin on the production site.

Visual Comparison is turned on or off in the portal under the Management Menu:

Visual Comparison is turned on or off in the portal under the Management Menu.



Visual Comparison offers reporting under the Visual Comparison menu:

Visual Comparison offers reporting under the Visual Comparison menu.



More in depth information on that can be found here: https://help.nexcess.net/74095-wordpress/how-to-use-visual-comparison-tool

Service - iThemes Sync Pro


iThemes Sync Pro is available upon request on Managed WordPress Maker plans and higher, and on Managed WooCommerce Creator plans and higher.

iThemes Sync Pro comes with an easy-to-use dashboard that allows you to maintain multiple sites from one interface, including managing plugin updates.

iThemes Sync Pro comes with an easy-to-use dashboard that allows you to maintain multiple sites from one interface, including managing plugin updates.



More in-depth information on that can be found here:

https://help.nexcess.net/74095-wordpress/ithemes-sync-pro-in-managed-wordpress-and-managed-woocommerce-hosting

Plugin - iThemes Security Pro


iThemes Security Pro will come pre-installed on all Managed WordPress and Managed WooCommerce plans. While this suite of software has many security features and options, it also provides a place to enable automatic plugin and theme updates called version management.

Updates for plugins or themes can be set to ALL, or both can be customized with the updates running on a delay from when the update was first released.

Updates for plugins or themes can be set to ALL, or both can be customized with the updates running on a delay from when the update was first released.



More in-depth information on that can be found here:

https://help.ithemes.com/hc/en-us/articles/228221587-iThemes-Security-Version-Management

WordPress Automatic Updates


Since WordPress 5.5, website Administrators can manually opt-in for automatic updates theme by theme and plugin by plugin, in wp-admin.

For each plugin on the plugins page, there is an “Automatic update” column with an action link used to enable/disable auto-updates plugin by plugin. They can also be bulk enabled or disabled. The same is true for themes by clicking on the theme thumbnail on the appearance menu.

By default WordPress runs auto-updates twice per day. If updates are available for plugins or themes with auto-updates enabled, the time until the next scheduled update will be displayed below the enable/disable auto-updates action link.

More in-depth information can be found here:


Nexcess Plugin Update Options



Some of the solutions mentioned above will just run automatically while others require some intervention or review. The following chart may help with deciding which method may be a good fit for your needs.

Visual ComparisonWordPress Auto UpdatesiThemes Sync ProiThemes Security Pro
ScheduleEvery 48 hoursEvery 6 hoursEmail notifications upon available updatesCustomizable
Themes AND Plugins?Plugins ONLYThemes AND PluginsThemes AND PluginsThemes AND Plugins
ConditionsOnly Active, non-staging site, free plugins found in the WP repo.All free plugins. Limitations may exist for Premium Plugins behind a paid account.All free plugins. Limitations may exist for Premium Plugins behind a paid account.All free plugins. Limitations may exist for Premium Plugins behind a paid account.
All or nothing VS SingularAll or none with ON/OFF Toggle (non-singular)Can be run on any plugin or theme (singular)Can be run on any plugin or theme (singular)Can be run on any plugin or theme (singular)
Size limitationsOnly runs on sites under 10 GBNot dependent on site sizeNot dependent on site sizeNot dependent on site size
Visual TestingDoes a visual compareNoneNoneNone
InteractionRequires manual intervention and decision upon reportingNoneRequires intervention and decision upon email notificationNone
Update PreventionYes, will run a visual comparison to prevent a site from breaking, requiring review.None - will just update.Will send email notification requiring review and then will just updateCan use the “delay” feature to delay the update, and then will just update.
Email NotificationsNone, but reporting happens in the portalYes, however those are disabled by our NXMAPPS plugin) Even with VC off.YesNone
ConfigurationNexcess PortalWp-admin Requires turning Visual Comparison OFF in portal and support enabling them in wp-admin. However at this time they will not be visible there.External iThemes Sync Pro Dashboard. https://sync.ithemes.com/ Wp-admin Security Menu for iThemes Security Pro Dashboard.
BlacklistingHas an internal blacklistNoneNoneNone


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For 24-hour assistance any day of the year, Nexcess customers can contact our support team by email at support@nexcess.net or through your Client Portal.

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This blog was originally published in April 2022. It has since been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.



Luke Cavanagh
Luke Cavanagh


Product Operations Manager at Nexcess. A devoted husband and tween wrangler. Synthwave enthusiast. Jerry Goldsmith fan. Doctor Who fan and related gubbins.