Luca's Blog


WordPress 3.7+


Maintain up to date a Website with WordPress Automatic background updates.


Using filters allows for fine-tuned control of WordPress Automatic Updates.

Add the following filters in a must-use plugin - under wp-content/mu-plugins by default:

  • wp-content/mu-plugins/update.php
<?php // mu-plugins/update.php
add_filter( 'allow_dev_auto_core_updates', '__return_false' );           // Enable nightlies (dev updates) 
add_filter( 'allow_major_auto_core_updates', '__return_true' );         // Enable major updates
add_filter( 'allow_minor_auto_core_updates', '__return_true' );         // Enable minor updates
add_filter( 'auto_update_plugin', '__return_true' );
add_filter( 'auto_update_theme', '__return_true' );
add_filter( 'auto_update_translation', '__return_true' );
add_filter( 'auto_core_update_send_email', '__return_true' );

Root Cause

WordPress Automatic background updates are available since WordPress 3.7 to promote better security. There are four types of automatic background updates:

  • Core updates
  • Plugin updates
  • Theme updates
  • Translation file updates

Automatic updates can be configured using one of two methods: defining constants in wp-config.php, or adding filters using a Plugin.

Before WordPress 5.6 by default, every site had automatic updates enabled only for minor core releases and translation files only. In WordPress 5.6+, every new site has automatic enabled for both minor and major releases.

The best place to put these filters is in a must-use plugin.

Do not add add_filter() calls directly in wp-config.php because WordPress isn’t fully loaded and can cause conflicts with other applications such as WP-CLI.