Hosting Tutorial & Guide

How to Configure and Disable WordPress Auto Update?

updated on Mar 10, 2015
How to Configure and Disable WordPress Auto Update? With the release of WordPress 3.7v, a new feature has been added to enhance website security and stability – the automatic updates. Within this auto-update system, your website will be updated automatically when there are security updates or minor releases from 3.7 to 3.7.1. Note that, auto updates are disabled for any major releases like 3.7 to 3.8.

Having given a rough idea about WordPress auto update, we would like to dive deeper and explain how to configure and disable it in detail. For a better understanding of automatic updates, we will firstly give some related background information as below. Now, let's go forward and get to the nitty-gritty.

Auto Update Types and Configurations

By default, there are a total of four update types, including core updates, theme updates, plugin updates and translation file updates. Beware that the core updates can be subdivided into three main types that include minor core releases for security and maintenance purposes, core development updates and major core updates.

To make personalized configurations for automatic updates, you have two alternative approaches – using constants or filters in your wp-config.php file. In the following, let's introduce how to apply constants to the wp-config.php file to enable the above-mentioned auto update types.

How to Enable Core Updates by Defining Constants in the wp-config.php file?

Enabling automatic updates for minor, development or major releases requires the _WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE_ constant in the wp-config.php file. In most cases, the mentioned _WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE_ constant can be classified into the following three values with different functions.
  1. The value of "true" – that enables all minor, development and major updates.
  2. The value of "false" – that disables all minor, development and major updates.
  3. The value of "minor" – that only enables minor updates exclusive of major and development updates.

If there is a need to enable all core updates on your WordPress website, you will have to make use of a line of configuration code as is showed below. Pay attention that, you shall insert this short code to the wp-config.php file in the installation root folder of your WordPress.

define('WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE', true);

In the same way, if you only want to enable core updates for security and minor releases, you will have to add the following code into the wp-config.php file.

define('WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE', 'minor');

Note: To enter your WordPress installation folder via cPanel, you are expected to login into your cPanel and navigate to the "File Manager" icon in the "Files" section. And then, you will be able to find the very folder where your have installed your WordPress under the folder of public_html.

WordPress Auto Update - Enter WordPress Installation Folder

How to Enable Core Updates by Using Filters?

Apart from the WPAUTOUPDATECORE constant, you can also take advantage of some filters to selectively enable the above-mentioned core updates. Besides that, WordPress has two built-in shorthand functions – returntrue and return_false – that allow you to enable some specific types of core updates. Now, there are some practical examples:

To enable major updates on your WordPress site, you shall use the following one:

add_filter( 'allow_major_auto_core_updates', '__return_true' );

To enable minor updates on your WordPress site, you shall use the following one:

add_filter( 'allow_minor_auto_core_updates', '__return_true' );

To enable development updates on your WordPress site, you shall use the following one:

add_filter( 'allow_dev_auto_core_updates', '__return_true' );

How to Enable Plugins and Themes via Filters?
Also, you have the ability to update your plugins and themes automatically for any new releases by adding some similar filters. For instance, if you want WordPress to perform auto updates for your plugins, you will need to embed the below filter to the same wp-config.php file.

add_filter( 'auto_update_plugin', '__return_true' );   

On the other hand, if you wish to have auto updates for your themes, you may refer to this similar filter. In the same way, you should apply it to your wp-config.php file.

add_filter( 'auto_update_theme', '__return_true' );

Important to Note: Beware that, this method only applies to themes that are offered by the official WordPress repository. That means, some paid or third-party themes that are downloaded from other inofficial websites won't be updated automatically for any new versions.

Why Disable Automatic Updates?

If you are using managed WordPress hosting to run your website, the web host will take responsibility for all your automatic updates. As such, your hosting provider will check and test the new versions will work fine before performing the updates.

On the other hand, if you happen to use something other than the mentioned managed hosting, you will take care of these auto updates within WordPress 3.7 or higher versions. However, the chances are that some previously-made modifications would be incompatible with your automatic updates and even affect your WordPress site in a negative way. In the further, you may need to update your WordPress website in your own way and have more control over your updates.

Important to Note: Before disallowing WordPress to handle your own auto updates, you'd better keep your WordPress install up-to-date for security purpose. By the way, if you are now using a kind of control system, whether it be Mercurial, Git, Subversion or Bazaar, the auto update feature will be automatically disabled in WordPress.

How to Disable WordPress Auto Updates?

As above, you can choose to disable unique types of core updates to suit your own needs. To achieve this goal, you are able to define constants or use filters in the wp-config.php file. Now, let's start with the former approach.

How to Disable Core Updates via Constants?
In some cases you want to disallow core updates and have automatic updates only for your plugins and themes, you may add a short line of code to the wp-config.php file.

define( 'WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE', false );

If you wish to disable your WordPress automatic updates completely, you will need to insert this line to the same wp-config.php file.

define( 'AUTOMATIC_UPDATER_DISABLED', true );

Important to Note: If you stop your site's auto updates completely, you will inevitably stop themes and plugins as well as core automatic updates, regardless of any previous configurations for themes or plugins.

How to Disable Other Types of Auto Updates via Filters?
As is often the case, automatic translation file updates are usually enabled in WordPress. If you have the need to stop translation file updates, you may refer to the following one.

add_filter( 'auto_update_translation', '__return_false' );

And more, if you are going to turn off the automatic email notifications that would appear when one update is accomplished, you will need to use the following filter.

/**
 * Disable the auto generated email sent to the admin after a core update
 */
apply_filters( 'auto_core_update_send_email', false, $type, $core_update, $result );

Beware that, the above short line should be added into the functions.php file rather than your wp-config.php file.

About Automatic WordPress Plugins

If you don't want to take the trouble to apply or disable updates in WordPress manually, we have some highly-recommendable alternatives for your reference. Note that, all of these listed plugins are free to download through wordpress.org.
  • Disable Updates Manager – It allows you to stop theme, plugin and core updates individually. Besides that, this helpful plugin has great support in store for you.
  • Background Update Tester – It allows you to enable auto updates in the background with automatic checking for compatibility. And more, this comprehensive plugin also empowers you to turn off background updates as you like.
  • Disable All WordPress Updates – It allows you to completely disable the plugin, theme and core update checking as well as the related notification system. More than that, this highly-ranked plugin can prevent WordPress from performing automatic updates for Cron jobs.