First, let's go over the more obvious reasons why you should keep your Umbraco install up-to-date.
1. Security is probably the top of any list of reasons to keep your software patched to the latest version. Security is arguably the most important reason why you should keep your Umbraco website up to date in terms of infrastructure. With each new release, they fix security vulnerabilities that pen-testing reports and end-users have identified to ensure your Umbraco website is safe and sound and is up-to-date with new industry standards.
Don't get me wrong, Umbraco is definitely no WordPress. Umbraco is a lot infinitely more stable and secure than WordPress (mainly because of the difference in the WordPress plug-in architecture), so you can be very confident that your current Umbraco build is secure, however, having the latest updates will have to ensure you don't get caught out by any potential new vulnerabilities
2. Cool New Features, With each new update, comes new features and improvements. Take the screenshot below, as an example of how the back-end editor has changed over a few different releases.
By constantly and consistently upgrading, your website can automatically get a whole host of new bonus features for very little effort on your part. This is one of the main reasons I always tend to urge anyone with a new project to use an off the shelf CMS rather than trying to reinvent the wheel.
With each new upgrade you get new features, in recent releases, these have included things like auto-URL rewriting, info tabs, scheduled health checks, improved search indexing and all other useful benefits
- Bragging Rights, When you meet your mates in the pub, do you want to be the guy who has to hang his head in shame and admit he's using Umbraco 4, or do you want to be the 'cool' one using the latest and greatest? One word of caution, if your mates get excited about Umbraco upgrades... you may want to ask some girls out!
- Bug Fixes. From my experience, Umbraco is a great platform which so far has always worked for me, however, despite the rigorous testing, like all software bugs may slip through the cracks. If you go to the Umbraco forums asking for help because something within your website is not working, don't be surprised if you get asked to upgrade.
I remember working on one Umbraco 6 project in a load-balanced environment and it had constant cache-invalid problems between the nodes. The fix was simple, I upgraded to Umbraco 7 which took about 30 minutes and the problem stopped.
- The Longer You Leave It The More Painful It Will Be. I'm guessing a lot of people reading this will understand what working in an 'agile' way means and some of the new better practices are, especially around the DevOps movement. With these philosophies, gone are the days of massive projects that are delivered once or twice a year in a big-bang approach.
Instead, the current trend is to do lots of little things constantly. Upgrading definitely follows this path. If you don't bother upgrading your Umbraco website for several years it will be a lot more painful, compared to upgrading your Umbraco website on a frequent and consistent basis. If you're planning on re-doing your website from scratch then you may consider leaving it to sit for a while, however, even in these instances, I suggest you stay in the upgrade loop. This way you'll be more prepared.
How Do I Know When A New Umbraco Update Is Available?
Ok, so I'm hoping I've convinced you that you should keep your website updated, the next question is probably, how do I keep up with updates? First, you can find out all about new Umbraco releases from this page, https://our.umbraco.org/contribute/releases/. However, let's be honest, who will actually go and visit a CMS website every day just to check for an update. Luckily, there is a much easier way. When you log into the Umbraco back-end if a new release is out, you should be prompted, as you can see here:
So keeping up-to-date is pretty simple. If you have never upgraded your Umbraco website and need some advice then please get in contact, as I can provide consultancy services to help you make sure your upgrade is as pain-free as possible.