Installing WP Updates
WordPress tends to have irregular significant version updates with more frequent minor version updates in between. For example, at the time of this publication we are using WP version 2.3.2 (two updates since the release of 2.3), version 2.4 would be considered the next significant update. Version 2.3.3 will be the next update to fix bugs or patch security holes in the current version. Version 3.0, whenever that may occur, would be a major update with many new features and functions.
It is not always necessary to update to the latest version as soon as it is released as it may contain problems. When 2.4 is released you may want to wait a while for 2.4.1 so you get the more stable version.
Your admin panel will notify you when a new version is available. Always perform a full backup before updating to a new version.
Using the WP Automatic Upgrade Plugin
The WordPress Automatic Upgrade plugin makes it rather simple to install new updates right from your admin panel.
In the WP admin panel click the Manage tab and then click Automatic Updates.
First enter your FTP connection info. You will need to do this step each time you run the upgrade plugin. For security reasons it is not wise for the system to store your FTP access info. Enter your username, password, the folder path to WP. Usually this will be /public_html unless you installed WP in a subfolder. Then enter your FTP host, usually ftp.yourdomain.com.
You have 2 options. A manual method that involves click through each of the initial steps of the upgrade process and an auto version that completes the first 4 or 5 steps at once.
The upgrade process involves first doing a back-up, then disable the site by placing it in maintenance mode, disable the plugins, upload and unzip files then overwrite the old files with the new. The manual method has you click for it to do each step. No need.
Choose the automated version!
The automated method will do the backup, disable the plugins and the site, and upload the new files to the server all in the first click. After that is complete it will ask you to check to see if the database tables need to be reconfigured. It often wont. Then you re-activate the plugins by clicking the link.
After activating the plugins you go the the next step and it displays to log of what it did. You may want to scroll to the bottom to see if all plugins got activated.
You can now download copies of the zipped files of the new WP version and a zipped copy of your database that was backed up during the upgrade process.
Finally click the clean up link to remove the temporary files created during the upgrade process.
Your now happily up to date with the latest and greatest version of WordPress.