WordPress 3.7 Update brings automatic updates

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 25, 2013

A new version of the blogging script WordPress has just been released. WordPress 3.7 is a feature and bug-fix release for self-hosted WordPress websites.

So called background updates are probably the biggest feature of the new version. This adds an option to WordPress to install maintenance and security updates automatically in the background without user interaction.

While most WordPress webmasters may not want to use the feature, as it can very well break a feature of the website, without them knowing about it for some time, it may make sense for sites that do not use many customizations or plugins, or sites that just sit there and are not maintained anymore.

The automatic-updates feature will only apply security or stability updates automatically, while feature releases, those from 3.7 to 3.8 for example, won't be applied automatically.

Note: The feature is enabled by default, you do need to disable it if you do not want to use it on your site. There are several options and prerequisites, but there is no switch in the WordPress admin interface to disable background updates. Read on to find out how you can disable the feature.

Disable WordPress Automatic Updates

wordpress automatic updates
background updates

To disable the automatic updates feature in WordPress, do the following:

Add the line define( 'AUTOMATIC_UPDATER_DISABLED', true ); to your wp-config.php file which you find in the root directory of your WordPress installation.

Additional information about the new feature are available on the Make WordPress blog.

You can verify if background updates are working by opening /wp-admin/about.php

Options are available to enable the automatic updating of plugins and themes as well. Those options are disabled by default.

Other features in WordPress 3.7

The developers have improved the password strength meter in WordPress. It indicates how secure a password is so that you can make modifications to it if it is listed as weak or medium strength.

Among the changes is the inclusion of common -- weak -- data that are often used as passwords, for instance names, keyboard patterns or pop culture references.

According to the change notes, the search has been improved as well by improving the relevancy of search results. While I have not tested that yet, it is definitely a welcome change as the default WordPress search engine returned rather weak results most of the time.

You will find many minor changes in the release as well, below is a small list of those updates:

  1. Leading and trailing spaces in passwords are removed automatically when they are saved
  2. The file size of an image attachment is now shown on the image edit page.
  3. Lots of new functions, filters and classes

You can check out all changes on the WordPress Codex website.

To update to WordPress 3.7, either use the built-in update option in the WordPress dashboard, or download the new release manually from the WordPress website and deploy it via ftp / sftp manually.


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  1. Arbaz Khan said on October 25, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    So now with this automatic updates all the plugins and themes installed in our site will get updated automatically or not? I am a little confused with this?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on October 25, 2013 at 5:38 pm

      Only security or stability WordPress updates will. No plugins or themes by default, this feature needs to be enabled manually.

  2. Alan Sheinwald said on October 25, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    Automatic updates. Nice work.

  3. drain0 said on October 25, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Where are The Options available to enable the automatic updating of plugins and themes found?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on October 25, 2013 at 10:30 am

      You need to use hooks, there are no interface controls or options in the admin dashboard.

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