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.