Why Sites Didn’t Automatically Update to WordPress 4.9.6

WordPress 4.9.6 was released last week and was labeled a minor release. Minor releases trigger WordPress’ automatic update system. Shortly after its release, some users began questioning why their sites were not automatically updating to 4.9.6. I wondered the same thing after logging into a site I maintain and discovering it had not updated.

It turns out that the WordPress Development team disabled the auto update system after discovering that a few plugins were incorrectly loading the new privacy features and triggering fatal 500 errors on the frontend of user’s sites.

The issue stems from privacy code that includes a file that was not expected to be loaded without the rest of the WordPress admin. Mika Epstein, a volunteer member of the plugin review team, personally contacted the affected plugin developers last weekend to help rectify the issue.

A recent scan of the WordPress plugin directory shows that there are no other plugins incorrectly loading the privacy code. However, automatic updates for WordPress 4.9.6 remain disabled until the release of WordPress 4.9.7.

WordPress 4.9.7 will fix the issue described above and include a few other bug fixes. Since auto updates will be enabled for 4.9.7, sites running on 4.9.5 should auto update to 4.9.7 when it’s released. WordPress 4.9.7 is expected to be released sometime after the Memorial Day holiday (Monday, May 28th). Until then, users will need to manually update to 4.9.6.

*Updated 5/23/2018 9:28 PM EST*

Earlier this evening, Gary Pendergast enabled auto updates for WordPress 4.9.6 and the team is monitoring for any new errors that are triggered. So far, 20K sites have updated without any notable problems.


15 Comments


  1. Your audience includes people who reside in other countries. Not everyone knows the date of Memorial Day.

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      1. Thank you for adding the date. Most North Americans seem to forget there’s a world outside of their country!

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  2. That’s why this release should be 4.10.0.

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    1. Exactly. If we really “need” to wait for 5.0 to release Gutenberg (it wasn’t long ago that Matt himself said the x.0 builds weren’t “special”, and now 5.0 is on indefinite hold waiting for HIS big initiative… gg), then I don’t know why we couldn’t have gone to 4.10 for this one.

      2017 = “Minor releases will all happen automatically and will only contain security & maintenance patches. All major functionality will go into a major build to prevent your sites from breaking”

      2018 = “We are throwing out the system we just defined, functionality will now be forced into minor releases and oh wow this is surprising we just broke stuff”

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  3. A lot of my sites auto updated over night to 4.9.6, these are low usage sites that I hadn’t got round to yet.

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  4. > However, automatic updates for WordPress 4.9.6 remain disabled until the release of WordPress 4.9.7.

    Seems that decision has been reverted recently. All my projects were updated a few hours ago automatically. That’s not the first time where I consider to disable the automatic updates :/

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  5. Two of mine auto-updated last night to 4.9.6.

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    1. Yeah, auto-updates were turned on for 4.9.6 shortly after this post was published lol.

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    1. I don’t know the plugins that were affected, only that it was about eight plugins and all of them have fixed the issue.

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  6. I’m glad auto-updates were disabled. I’d rather an outdated version than a fatal error :)

    I’ve had some issues with the Social Warfare plugin with the last couple of WP releases. Is this a known plugin conflict issue?

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