Have you ever wanted to disable the WordPress auto-update feature and wondered how to do it? You probably know that WordPress automatically updates your site – including themes and plugins – from time to time. While there’s a ton of benefits of automatic updates, there’s a slight chance they can break your website. Developers and testers always do their best to prevent this from happening, but it still occurs on occasion.

Automatic updates were introduced with the 3.7 version of WordPress, in an effort to improve security measures. If you’re one of the millions of users who have the Yoast SEO plugin installed, your site is updated every week automatically, without any notifications whatsoever.

While by default not all of these updates are automatic, WordPress can carry out a total of four auto-updates: theme updates, plugin updates, translation file updates, and core updates. WordPress is set up by default to carry out minor core updates and translation file updates. It also has the possibility of auto-updating certain plugins or themes in extreme security-related cases.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to disable the WordPress auto-update feature manually with code and with the help of a plugin.

Table of Contents
1. Disable Auto-Update with Code
2. Disable Auto-Update with a Plugin
3. How to Disable Email Notifications
4. Pros and Cons of Auto Updates
5. Final Thoughts

How to Disable WordPress Auto-Update Feature Using Code

In order to completely disable the WordPress auto-update feature, you just need to insert a short snippet of code. First, you need to download an FTP client and edit the wp-config.php file on your computer. Needless to say, before making any changes, you should backup your site.

If you want to disable the core WordPress updates, simply start your FTP client, and add this line of code:

define( 'WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE', false );

Keep in mind that is good practice to always comment the new code added in. For example, above the code below is a line of comment that will explain what that code does.

On the other hand, if you want, if you only want major and development updates disabled, you should add this line of code instead:

/* Allow only minor WordPress updates */
define( 'WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE', minor );

By using the code above, your site will update the core software for small bug fixes and security updates. It won’t, however, automatically update to any major release.

In our opinion, this is a good compromise, since you’re allowing fixes that protect your site from malware and cyber-attacks and stopping major updates that may mess your site up. This way, you won’t run into a scenario where something crucial gets broken due to an update.

If you already have them turned off and want to turn them back on, you should use the following code:

define( 'WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE', true );

Bonus: Disabling Automatic Theme and Plugin Updates

While the code above disables software updates, it won’t stop your themes and plugins from updating. Before we move on, we should mention that WordPress rarely updates its themes and plugins. In most cases, WordPress forces an update in case of a major security vulnerability.

! This means you should be careful before disabling automatic theme and plugin updates.

Nonetheless, if you still want to proceed, here are the lines of code you need to use:

In order to disable theme updates, use this line of code in the functions.php file of your theme:

add_filter( 'auto_update_theme', '__return_false' );

In order to disable plugin updates, just use the following filter in the functions.php file of your plugin:

add_filter( 'auto_update_plugin', '__return_false' );

Of course, you can always get more detailed. For instance, you can choose to disable updates on specific themes and plugins you’ve installed. You can find the explanation of this method on the WordPress Codex site.

To do it the other way around and enable automatic theme updates use this code in the theme’s functions.php file:

add_filter( 'auto_update_theme', '__return_true' );

And this one to enable automatic plugin updates:

add_filter( 'auto_update_plugin', '__return_true' );

How to Disable WordPress Auto-Update Feature Using a Plugin

If you don’t have a lot of experience with coding or using FTP clients, you can achieve the same results by downloading and installing a simple plugin. While there are many auto-update-disabling plugins out there, we recommend the Easy Updates Manager.

The plugin has over 300,000 active installations and a 5-star rating on the official repository.

You can download it from the link above, but it’s also listed in at WordPress.org so you can go to your dashboard right away and find it there.

Easy Updates manager plugin screenshot

After you activate the plugin, you need to go to Updates Options in order to configure the plugin. The plugin itself has a very clear dashboard, where you can turn all types of updates off.

The first column doesn’t really deal with automatic updates – it actually disables manual updates as well. Therefore, you should leave the first column untouched. If you want to disable only the automatic ones, you should concentrate on the second column.

Easy Updates Manager plugin settings

Here, you’ll be able to disable a number of core updates and decide whether or not you want to disable theme and plugin updates. You just need to click the switch on/off buttons besides the updates you want disabled, and voilà, you’re done.


How to Disable Email Notifications

If you are looking to disable the email notifications you receive each time an update is completed, you are in luck as this is what we’re going to talk about now. These email notifications are usually sent out in a few specific situations including:

  • When an update was successfully completed.
  • When WordPress tried to update but could not
  • Or, when there was a critical failure.

To stop receiving these emails go to your theme’s functions.php file and add this code:

apply_filters( 'auto_core_update_send_email', false, $type, $core_update, $result );

To reverse the change replace the code above with this one:

apply_filters( 'auto_core_update_send_email', true, $type, $core_update, $result ); 

It doesn’t get much easier than that!


Pros and Cons of Having Auto-Updates

When it comes to the WordPress auto-update feature, there are pros and cons to having it enabled. Let’s start with the advantages.

Pros

  • Auto updates mean one less thing to worry about.
  • They keep your website secure and up-to-date.
  • Bug fixes are automatically implemented, which mean fewer chances of your website experiencing weird glitches.
  • You will benefit from having immediate access to improvements and new features.

That’s all well and good, but there are a few drawbacks, however.

Cons

  • Auto-updates override changes and any edits you might have made to the theme/plugin’s files so you’ll have to re-add them every time an update occurs.
  • Sometimes, incompatibility with other plugins or the theme you’re using can develop.

Final Thoughts

Like we said before, you shouldn’t disable automatic updates on a whim. Should you decide to do this, keep in mind that you’ll have to manually update your site if you want to stay safe. If you’re running your site on outdated software, you’re leaving a huge security hole for hackers out there to exploit.

However, if you manage to stay on top of updates and do everything manually, you’ll do fine. Disabling these updates is actually a good way of staying in control and ensuring that nothing breaks in case of an unexpected change. It’s all about balance. And if you can strike the right one, your site will perform much better, it’ll remain safer, and you’ll experience far fewer update-related headaches.