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How often (on average) does drupal core need updating?

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There is no "rule" but update as soon as it's released.

Usually Drupal core updates (bug fixes) are released once in a month but in case of a security vulnerability, there will be an immediate release.

I usually leave Update Status module enabled and configured to check for new releases every week.

Read more about Drupal core release cycle here. (This is about major Drupal releases, eg. 6, 7 and upcoming 8)

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  • Also, if you edit your drupal.org account and go to the "My newsletters" tab, you can subscribe to "Security announcements" newsletters. Then you will get emails whenever drupal core and contrib security updates go out. This makes it easy to keep up to date with important updates and you also get information on what the security problem was.
    – rooby
    Apr 20, 2013 at 14:23
  • @rooby thanks! Yes I too have opted that in but I'm getting the emails for all projects that I've never used. But those emails are really helpful to fine tune my own modules :)
    – AKS
    Apr 20, 2013 at 16:42

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