Solve WordPress 3.7 Background Updates “This site is not able to apply these updates automatically.”

WordPress 3.7 introduces a fantastic new feature, automatic background updates which will speed up the uptake of security patches. Keeping sites up to date is an important step towards maintaining your sites security.

Screenshot 2013-10-25 11.11.40

Automatic background updates have been tested vigorously and should work under most setups. To prevent issues WordPress runs a number of checks before enabling automatic updates. One of the checks determines whether the site is under version control.

At iWeb, we version control our sites using Git, we ignore core WordPress files, only keeping track of our code. Because of this we’d like to enable automatic updates, ignoring the version control check WordPress makes. This is possible by filtering the version control check. The name of the filter has changed a few times during the WordPress 3.7 development cycle and has settled as automatic_updates_is_vcs_checkout.

I’d recommend adding the following code into an mu-plugin:

Update – 30/10/2013

An official plugin has been released which helps identify why your site may not be able to receive automatic updates. Background Update Tester gives a little more feedback and can help point you in the right direction.

Background Update Tester

Background Update Tester indicating that our site will not update automatically due to the presence of a .git directory

Background Update Tester after our automatic_updates_is_vcs_checkout filter

Background Update Tester after we filter automatic_updates_is_vcs_checkout with the above code


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