If you haven’t upgraded your WordPress blog to 2.9 (actually 2.9.1 as of the time of this writing), you should. With the 2.9 update, the people at WP have implemented a feature that I’ve been pining for for some time. The only problem is it’s not where you’d think it might be.
If you do regularly keep up on your WP updates whenever you get an alert that there’s a new version, you probably saw the option to upgrade your plugins when you upgraded to 2.9.1. But I know a lot of people (myself included) often let updates slide, and while I did run out and upgrade to 2.9, I hunted for the upgrade-all-the-plugins-at-once button and didn’t find it. If you’re like me, this post is for you, and here’s what you do.
First off, upgrade if you haven’t already. WordPress has made it easy to do an automatic upgrade since the 2.7 release, so all you need to do (in most cases) is click a button and WordPress does the work for you. But what if you are at 2.9+ and you have a little red icon next to your plugins menu on the sidebar, and you want to take care of all of those at once? It’s not in the Plugins page — which is where I assumed it would be — despite the fact that you can filter your plugins by those needing to be updated. Instead, you’ll need to head to the Upgrade page in the Tools menu, a place that normally you wouldn’t go for anything other than upgrading WordPress.
Once you’re on the Upgrade screen, everything should make sense. If you need to upgrade your WordPress version, you’ll have an option to do that, and if you need to upgrade any of your plugins, they will be listed underneath with checkboxes next to each one, and an option to select all. After you click on the Upgrade Plugins button, it’ll go through each one, and tell you at every point what’s going on.
…and that’s it. WordPress will tell you when it’s done, and the whole process should be pretty quick.
What it’s doing is temporarily dropping your site into maintenance mode while it does the work. This takes down your site for a few minutes and displays a message that says “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute” (it looks like this). It should really only take a few minutes and as soon as it’s done it will come back up. However, if there’s a problem on your server and the script stops, it means your site is locked in maintenance mode, and even you can’t get in.
Luckily, this is relatively easy to fix. When WordPress goes into maintenance mode, it creates a temporary file in your site’s “root” folder (the folder on the server that your WordPress installation is located that contains the wp-admin, wp-content, and wp-includes folders) called .maintenance. All you need to do if your site gets stuck in maintenance mode is to delete the .maintenance file. This may require connecting via FTP or going to your webhost and accessing a File Browser-like GUI that displays a list of files in your installation. Once you’re looking at the files in your WordPress install, it should be easy to spot the .maintenance file and delete it. Once that’s done, you’re back in business (although you may want to try upgrading that plugin individually from the Manage Plugins page, or manually by uploading a newer version to your server).
Being someone who maintains multiple WordPress sites and has to periodically upgrade all of them when there’s an update available, this feature is invaluable to me. It’s so much faster and easier to go to one screen on each site I need to update, and upgrade both the version of WordPress and all the plugins more or less at the same time, and then move on to the next site. Even if you only have one blog, this takes a lot of the hassle out of having to do periodic plugin updates. It’s something that a lot of us have been asking for since Automattic added in the automatic upgrade feature, and I’m glad they finally added it in.
Questions? Comments? We’d love to hear from you! Let us know if this post helped you out!