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Should you upgrade to WordPress 3.1?

Posted on Mar 19th, 2011 by

"Pending upgrades"... have the effect of a red cloth on a bull.

Recently WordPress 3.1 came out. While the (major) upgrade from WordPress 2.9 to 3.0 was in general seen as a success, 3.1 seems to be different.

There are a number of known problems with the WordPress 3.1 upgrade. Most of them have to do with incompatibilities with certain plugins and themes. There are also issues with custom post types and with plugins using jQuery functions (picture sliders for instance).

I upgraded two of my fifteen WordPress sites (including BlogTips) successfully, but got stuck with the last one. After upgrading, my admin screens would work well, but the site itself returned a blank screen.


That particular WordPress site used about ten different plugins, which I disabled one by one, but in vain. I started to backup the upgraded site and to retrieve a backup copy of my old site, looking forward for a loooong day of downgrading (upgrading is a flip of a switch, downgrading is a pain).

In the process of doing so, I remembered one of the golden rules of debugging: “switch back to the default Twenty-Ten theme”! When I checked, it seemed that the upgrade had already switched me to the Twenty-Ten theme. I re-enabled my normal theme, and voila, the site was back up.

I re-enabled all plugins one by one, restored the cache files (which had all been deleted when I disabled Supercache), and the site was back up.

I am yet to analyse exactly what went wrong, but I suspect a conflict between WordPress 3.1 and one of the plugins. Which? That is the one million dollar question.

My advise is to wait it out for a few more weeks. Let the plug-in developers debug 3.1 incompatibilities first.

Two tips on upgrading (be it the WordPress core, themes or plugins):

  1. If you have an important site (which site is not important, hey?), then keep a mirror test site, which is a working copy of your production site. Test any upgrade first on your mirror test site. If the upgrade works, and continues to work after a couple of days, then consider upgrading your production site.
  2. Before you upgrade, make sure you have a backup of both your files, and your SQL database. If all goes haywire, downgrading will only be possible using your backups. otherwise -as they say in French- you’ll be stuffed.

Wishing you luck. I am waiting it out.

Update April 19, 2011:
WordPress released version 3.1.1 which seems to cure most problems of 3.1… I have upgraded most of my sites to 3.1.1, and everything seems stable now. My advise now: go for it!


2 Comments to “Should you upgrade to WordPress 3.1?”

  1. sparky says:

    brother, we need a motivation to upgrade, a good one,
    I tested the 3.1 version on some friend’s website, it had some problems..such as, when you upload a theme or a plugin, everything goes wrong, you have to upload it via FTP software, I hope they will release a solution for that bug soon, then I will consider upgrading.
    thanks for posting this :)

  2. Mary says:

    We used TinyMCE as our editor. Did not work with WordPress 3.1 – Now I see it is a “known” problem.

    God, I hope WordPress is not slipping and becoming another pain in the backside.

    As you wrote, it is a pity to see this many problems after the nice upgrade to 3.0 that went really well.

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