How to Update WooCommerce the Right Way

I see it time and time again.

WooCommerce release an awesome new update, and tonnes of messages flood in reporting broken live sites.

The big mistake is that you should never run updates on a live site without testing them first.Click To Tweet

This is entirely avoidable if you run through the update process in the right way.

How to Test a WooCommerce Update

The process of testing a WooCommerce update should be as follows. Note: If you’re not comfortable with coding, you should outsource this process to your developer.

  1. Create a staging version of your live site.
  2. Make sure WP_DEBUG_LOG is enabled.
  3. Update WooCommerce and any other WooCommerce plugins via the WordPress admin Plugins tab.
  4. Turn your payment methods to sandbox/testing mode so you can test checking out.
  5. Manually run through your customer journey and check for any errors/issues. As you land on each page of the journey, check the error log (located at wp-content/debug.log) for any errors.
  6. Any time an error appears, use the error message to help you track it down and fix the issue. Most likely you’ll be seeing PHP warnings, as most WooCommerce updates will be backwards compatible.

How to Create a Staging Site

Most WordPress hosting companies these days offer 1-click staging areas. Simply click a button and a cloned version of your live site will be created on a testing domain.

Some of the WordPress hosting companies that offer this are:

This truly is the easiest way to create a staging site. You’ll be able to test your website in its current state and on exactly the same server stack that your live site is hosted on.

Use a WordPress host with 1-click staging for the ultimate testing environment.Click To Tweet

Another option is to manually create a subdomain or subfolder and use a plugin to duplicate your live site. The most popular plugin for this is Duplicator.


In conclusion, always create a staging version of your site, preferably on the same server as your live site, to test WooCommerce updates on. You can then test your customer journey and spot any errors without affecting the stability of your live site.

With software updates there will always be bugs and errors that occur in some scenarios. This doesn’t mean the software is bad. It just means the developers were unable to test your specific edge case.

Take a moment to think about how many possible configurations there are; different server stacks, different themes, different plugin combinations. The list goes on.

This is exactly why WooCommerce have beta releases. They aim to catch as many of these combinations as possible with the help of WooCommerce developers.

How do you test WooCommerce updates? Let me know in the comments.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.


James is the founder of Iconic and an experienced WooCommerce plugin developer.



  1. Saud Razzak says:

    Nice guide! But I am surprised you didn’t mention Cloudways. Cloudways also offers 1-click staging areas as well as 3-day free trial, which is actually very good. So if users want to check out the latest WooCommerce update, they can easily check that on Cloudways.

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