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Upgrading WordPress

Update, June 30: One blogger I know who uses a number of widgets ran into difficulties with this upgrade method. Be careful, out there! Back up first! Always back up first!
First the good part: my blog runs on WordPress, the software works, it’s easy to install, and easy to use. It has loads of advanced features as well as plugins that can expand those features further, nearly to the point of tap dancing and darning your socks. And the good people who developed it have made it open source and freely available. In short, a brilliant piece of work.

/*cue creeping sinister music*/

But WordPress does have a dark side. It’s called “when things go wrong.” I have had zero success using their forums to find answers to simple or complicated questions, or anything in between. I must admit, I haven’t even tried in a year or so, because it was so uniformly useless. Maybe they’ve turned over a new leaf. When I did try it, the organization of the forums was hopeless, so other passing users weren’t likely to see or answer questions. The knowledgeable types, on the other hand, had nothing to say but RTFM. My questions made it rather plain that I’d done my best to read the effing manual, but the people who knew the answers couldn’t seem to be bothered to read the actual questions. Severely aggravating. The manual, called the Codex in WordPress-talk, is indeed very complete, but again, organized so weirdly that finding anything was pretty much a matter of chance. Also aggravating, although it was easier not to take that personally.

This is all a long introduction to explain why I’d never upgraded my original, two year-old version of WordPress. Not upgrading software, especially interactive stuff like blogging software, creates security holes and can cause all sorts of problems. But my blog was working, and I wasn’t about to to risk disturbing any part of that interlocking set of 75 megabytes worth of programs. Plus, WordPress’s concept of upgrade methods was like their concept of user support. Totally dense. You were supposed to download, extract, ftp, back up, decompress MySQL databases, and god-knows-what-all. My eyes glazed over after about the fifteenth step. Forget it.

And then, at the end of March, WordPress joined the 21st century and provided an automated upgrade. After the first whoop of joy, I turned cautious. Like the elderly oysters in The Walrus and The Carpenter, I’ve developed a suspicious mind. I googled to find out how things had worked for people. Had they, god forbid, had problems and needed help? The good old non-existent help of WordPressdom?

There were some reports of mysterious glitches. The WordPress site didn’t even talk about versions as old as mine. If I tried it, my fate would be in the Ceiling Cat’s paws, and I didn’t like that. But google really is your friend (so far, at least). In the course of searching, I found a site that said how to use an alternate upgrade script for WordPress. Both sites sounded coherent and intelligent, and in the comments — oh, joy! — somebody mentioned having successfully gone straight from the paleolithic version I was using to the current one.

Time to make the leap.

So I did.

And everything worked.

I was boggled.

There was one heartstopping issue. The instructions said it would take a few minutes, but it took over an hour. I was drop dead sure that everything was stuffed. However, after an hour, suddenly the dear old blog went live again, stronger, faster, and better than before. I’d like my medical upgrades to work as well, please.

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