What it means:
WordPress is a platform for your blog or website (if you are indeed using WordPress). You can think of it like Microsoft Windows. Within Windows you have programs installed that allow you to do different tasks. Within WordPress, you also have what are called plugins and your main theme. Your theme is the template of your website or blog…it is what your website is designed to look like. Plugins are small programs which can do a variety of things. They range from things like this FAQ page to eCommerce which allows you to sell products to SEO optimization and many things in between.
How it benefits you:
Google gives priority to WordPress websites which means if someone uses keywords found in your site, the chances are, you will show up higher in the search results than a non-WordPress site. This means more traffic and potential sales for your business!
Keeping the site patched and updated can prevent unnecessary downtime which can cost you money and potential customers.
Why you need it:
All of these aspects of your site or blog require updates from time to time. There is no particular time frame in which updates occur. At any given time you can look at your dashboard and see a number next to ‘Plugins’ which means there is an update waiting to be applied.
Sometimes updates fix minor issues or authors have added a new feature. In some cases, major bugs and security issues have been updated that could put your site at risk if they remain unpatched. The problem with updating plugins if you are not familiar with WordPress is that you may have incompatibility issues with your theme or WordPress itself. This can result in that particular plugin not working correctly, or at ALL. The last thing you want is downtime, especially if you run an eCommerce site. A backup should always be done before applying updates and ultimately, the site should be tested after each individual update takes place so you know it still works. Theme and plugin authors will need to update their programs when WordPress does a major update since this is the backbone of the platform. Not everyone does this in a timely manner (and sometimes not at all).
Therefore, you should either know how to deal with the myriad of updates that are thrown at you multiple times per month or risk even further downtime while someone else tries to fix whatever went wrong. I have had years of experience with updates and know how to deal with problems which can sometimes involve having to find a replacement for a plugin or theme if it comes down to that.
With that being said, there is no definitive time that it takes to do these updates. Typically they go smoothly without any problems, but once you start talking about theme and WordPress updates, they can take longer depending on the complexity of your site. On the short side of the time frame, a monthly check for updates can take 30-45 minutes along with testing. On the other hand, if something goes wrong or a restore has to be done, it could take in upwards of a few hours. Should you have purchased the Basic plan which allows for 2 hours of service time and the updates take longer than 2 hours, you will not be billed for the extra time. That also goes for any other plan purchased. My loss is your gain as far as time is concerned!