WordPress Update to Break Websites December 2020

In December, WordPress will be releasing an update that will potentially break your website if you use a particular very common plug-in. Find out which plug-in, how to know if you have it and how to stop it breaking your website.
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The WordPress 5.6 Update Will Also Update the jQuery Plug-In, Breaking Many Websites in December 2020

In short:

  • WordPress is rolling out an update in December 2020.
  • The update may break a plug-in many other major plug-ins rely on.
  • If you have the plug-in enabled, it will break your website functionality.
  • Anyone can easily check if they have the at-risk plug-in enabled.
  • For those at risk, you’ll simply need to update the plug-in before the WordPress update.
  • A developer is the person to contact if you’re concerned or need help with this particular issue. 

Website platforms are like phones; they need regular updates to ensure they’re staying secure, fast and performing as they should. However, like phones, when you update your website, it can break apps which haven’t been updated alongside them. This is the issue with WordPress 5.6.

When WordPress 5.6 rolls out in December 2020, it will also update the jQuery Migrate Library plug-in to version 3.3.1. Those relying on the ‘Enable jQuery Migrate Helper’ will experience broken functionality of their website, including some themes and other plug-ins relying on it. 

But how do you know if you even have the JQuery Migrate plug-in enabled? Will your WordPress website be one of the many to break? We’ve broken it all down for you so you don’t need to worry. Of course, if you have questions, please reach out to us via Facebook, our Contact Page or [email protected].

How to Know if WordPress 5.6 Will Break Your Website

In all honesty, unless you’re a developer, you’re best to speak to whoever built your website or a new website builder to check up on this for you. However, if you do want to check if your website will break in December 2020, you need to know if you’re using the Enable jQuery Migrate Helper plug-in and if it’s up to date.

According to Search Engine Journal:

“If you’re currently using Enable jQuery Migrate Helper plug-in and when logged into your admin panel you see error messages, then yes, you may experience unexpected website behaviour when WordPress updates to version 5.6.

On the other hand, if the Enable jQuery Migrate Helper isn’t reporting any errors, that means your themes and plug-ins have updated their jQuery libraries and the site should function well.”

Essentially, if your jQuery Migrate Helper plug-in was updated earlier in the year, your website should not break. If when you sign into your WordPress website you see an error, it may mean you have a problem.

What is Enable jQuery Migrate Helper?

jQuery is a plug-in to help make a developers life a lot easier. It takes common, repetitive blocks of JavaScript (JS) and turns them into methods the developer can place when needed. 

There are many other plug-ins, including many themes, which rely on jQuery to function. If jQuery has a performance issue, such as a vital update not being performed, the function will break.

How to find if jQuery is enabled.

  1. Log into your WordPress website.
  2. There should be an option in your tool menu running along the left vertical of your browser labelled ‘Plug-ins’. Hover over this and select ‘Installed Plug-ins’.
  3. Select the ‘Active’ tag along the top of the table and search for jQuery. If you find the plug-in, it is enabled.
  4. To see if an enabled jQuery plug-in is up to date, therefore won’t be affected by the WordPress update, click ‘See Details’ in the plug-in’s description.
  5. Check if the update button is up to date. If so, you won’t need to be concerned.
  6. If you do need to update your jQuery plug-in, please speak to your developer first.

What to Do if Your WordPress Website Breaks

1. Figure out the error type.

When you go onto your website and there is an error, there will be a message displayed. Common website error messages include:

HTTP Errors (404 Errors)

A HTTP or 404 error happens when your website platform is unable to connect to the hosting server. This can happen if the page has not been created properly, has been deleted and someone searches for the URL and a host of other reasons.

To fix a HTTP error, you can put a redirect in place, which will take users to another webpage you specify if they go to the page with the error. Alternately, you can create a 404 page, which will display if a 404 error occurs. The page will let users know there is a problem with the page they were connecting to and what to do (such as contact you or go to another page).

500 Internal Errors

Seeing a 500 Internal Error when you go on a website is likely due to an issue with your website’s server. If it’s your own website with a 500 error, contact your hosting provider to discuss. However, if you’re visiting a website and receive a 500 error, try clearing your browser’s cookies and cache, followed by restarting your browser.

401 Unauthorised Access Errors

You obviously don’t want just anyone from updating or changing your website. Your website comes with a set of logins to keep unwanted people, which will give them a 401 error if they try to access an area they shouldn’t or can’t. 

If you as the website owner are seeing a 401 error, you’ll likely just need to sign into your website. Of course, if problems persist contact who built your website for you to troubleshoot.

2. Check your plug-ins.

Your plug-ins run more of your website than you think. When your website platform is updated, any plug-ins not maintained (either by the plug-in maker no longer supporting it or you not updating it) can cause errors.

To check if your plug-ins are the problem for an error, check the plug-ins tab in your WordPress settings. You may see an error with instructions of what to do.

However, not all plug-in issues will be visible or obvious, and updating them may not fix the problem. Many websites recommend disabling and reenabling your plug-ins one by one to see which it is, but this can cause more issues than it’s worth if you’re not confident in your development skills. Call a developer — you’ll thank yourself later.

3. Ensure your hosting is still valid.

Hosting is essentially what keeps your website online. It’s like a digital filing cabinet for all of your website so it can be displayed on website browsers.

While it’s possible to have a free website, you’ll need hosting and a domain to remove the website platform’s branding from your URL (www.yourbusiness.com). Hosting will normally be a monthly or yearly fee to keep your website online. When you don’t pay your hosting fees, your hosting provider will take down your website, displaying an error.

A hosting error will normally be very obvious as it displays on the webpage that this is the issue. To fix the hosting error, simply re-engage your hosting.

4. Hire a developer.

Unless you build your own website, a developer will most likely have worked on building your site. Remember, website errors also impact the effectiveness of your SEO, Google Ads, Social Media Marketing and other digital marketing too, so time is of the essence to get them fixed. 

When you build a website with hosting (starting from $19 a week), we look after the maintenance for you. Our developers and IT teams keep on top of any updates so you don’t have to be concerned with the above. And if something does happen (no one is perfect, after all), we’re always here to help.

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