Are Magento Updates Really That Important?

Could your website be at risk? Find out how regular updates to your site can prevent this

At Develo, we take the security of our clients’ websites very seriously. Our commitment to providing you with the best service includes staying vigilant about emerging security incidents and promptly addressing them. We constantly monitor security developments and maintain a proactive approach to protect your online presence. 

Magento releases regular updates and patches to address known vulnerabilities and protect your store from potential threats. Sometimes, these updates require a significant amount of development resources, which can make merchants understandably hesitant to implement them.

In this article, we guide you through the importance of an up-to-date eCommerce platform and what you can expect when updating your Magento site. We also share our tips to keep on top of your updates, meaning less time and money to keep your site safe and secure.

Why are the updates so frequent?

As a Magento merchant, you probably feel there are a surprising amount of updates available during any given year. It’s important to note that there are different types of updates each with varying levels of importance. Whilst major releases tend to be scheduled for every quarter, the smaller updates are released more frequently and tend to be more ‘reactive’. It’s the major releases that tend to be more development-heavy, whereas the important security patches are usually easier to apply.

Magento updates can be split into different types: 

  • Major releases - New functionality and features
  • Minor releases - Bug fixes, security patches & performance improvements
  • Security releases - Minor releases that focus solely on security
  • Feature releases - New features & updates 
  • Quality patch releases - Security, compliance, performance and high priority fixes

Can you just apply the security patches? 

In short, it is possible to just apply the security patches to your website. They require less development time than major updates and address the most important vulnerabilities in your current version. Bear in mind that this will simply be buying you time and you will need to eventually upgrade your site to the latest version. Applying smaller patches can be a good temporary solution if you are focussing budgets on a particular project or and going through a website redesign or new launch.

If you keep on top of the smaller, more frequent updates, you’ll find the larger multi-version updates much less complicated and therefore less expensive to apply. This is because there will be less of a jump between Magento versions reducing the likelihood of bugs and incompatibilities.

Why do I need to keep my site up-to-date? 

Keeping your site updated plays a pivotal role in safeguarding your website from potential threats. Cybersecurity threats are constantly evolving, and malicious actors are always seeking vulnerabilities to exploit. By applying security patches, you fortify your website's defenses against potential breaches, data leaks, and other security compromises. We highly recommend that your Magento store is kept up to date with the latest available security patches.

You should always be aware of the relevant eCommerce security laws in your area - a breach that could have been prevented with up-to-date software could be breaking data protection laws and prove very costly to your business. It also puts your customers at risk and has the potential to damage your brand significantly. 

Magento releases also include new features and performance enhancements, helping you improve UX and stay ahead of your competition.

What happens if I don’t update my website? 

If you don’t keep your website up-to-date you may be lucky and experience no negative impact at all. However, there are a number of serious risks to consider if you keep your site on an outdated version of Magento: 

  • Your customers’ data may be compromised, resulting in hefty fines
  • Your website could be taken offline by hackers, resulting in revenue losses
  • Your website may no longer be supported by Adobe Commerce technical support
  • You will lose out on important new features and functionality that will be available to your competitors
  • You will lose out on performance updates that will be available to your competitors
  • You will miss fixes for known bugs and issues, these are difficult for developers to resolve as they exist in the core Magento code

How much resource will an update need?

The amount of time required for an update depends on multiple factors including what type of update is being applied, the contents of the update, how often you update your website and your development agency’s processes.

At Develo, we suggest our Magento support clients keep a set amount of time reserved for updates so that no ‘surprise’ resource is required when it comes to updating. 

For a small sized Magento / Adobe Commerce system (6-10 modules, only a few larger ones), we allocate approximately 60 hours of support time annually for the maintenance, which includes applying version updates and security patches. If your website has lots of bespoke functionality or third party integrations, then you will need to spend additional time as these websites can be more complex to upgrade.

We also ensure our clients are aware of smaller updates as they become available. As mentioned above, by doing smaller, more frequent updates, your site will have less of a jump between major updates meaning less compatibility issues, less downtime and therefore reduced costs.

Side effects

With any patch or upgrade there will be changes to core Magento functionality. It is important to remember that although these updates are designed not to impact the general site functionality, there is a risk that custom/bespoke functionality may break as a result of applying updates. This is because the custom modules and functionality were built for a particular version of Magento, the longer it’s been since the module was updated, the more likely it is to be affected. This is why it’s important to also keep your third party modules up-to-date.

We always recommend a full regression test is performed on your staging website when performing an update. This will allow your development team to fully test both frontend and admin functionality across your customers’ most popular devices and browsers. These issues can then be resolved before they are pushed to your live environment.

In the ever-changing landscape of eCommerce, maintaining security and functionality of your website is not only best practice, it’s crucial. While the frequency and cost of updating may put some merchants off, the benefits far outweigh this such as fortifying against security threats, ensuring compliance and unlocking exciting new features and performance improvements.

If you’re on an outdated version of Magento and are concerned about any of the risks raised in this article, our team would be more than happy to discuss your situation and how we may be able to support your website and help you keep future upgrade costs to a minimum.

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Rebecca

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