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Note: Since Minecraft began updating from 1.7.4. to 1.8. there has been an extreme amount of fragmentation. This means that there are many different snapshots between 1.7.5. and 1.7.9. that provide partial play ability. You can find a list of the latest bukkit snapshots here.
The biggest thing to be aware of with this is that your plugins are also updating to keep up with Minecraft. Some of your plugins will automatically update if you have them configured that way. It is highly recommended at this point to lock your plugins down to prevent them from updating until you are ready.
Some plugins are designed to work only on specific snapshots. When a new feature of the game is released it can often times negatively impact the performance of a plugin. This can result in what is known as memory leaks. These memory leaks can build up over time and begin to negatively impact your servers performance. The most common symptom of this is a server that plays fine and over time seems to “randomly” begin to lag. This lag is the result of the memory leak hitting critical and starting to crash your server. Sometimes it can handle the leak without crashing but the performance will decline.
To prevent this from happening or to reverse the effects of out of version and miss configured plugins you must do one thing. Check every single plugin to make sure it is the right version and configured appropriately. It is highly recommended when first starting your server or fixing it to add plugins one by one as you configure them. This way you can ensure every plugin is finely tuned and working well. It will also let you pinpoint which plugin is or was causing you a problem before the install / re install.
The good news is this period is only temporary. As Minecraft hits 1.8 they will rest for a period of time to let the community catch up and their code to propagate. 1.8. brings a huge change to the methods used by Minecraft to keep track of players. Instead of unique identifiers they are now leveraging a common UUID system for classification of player data. This is a huge overhaul of the game and as such most plugins that were made to work before 1.8 will work with the new server version.
There will be a short lag of time between the new stable version and the community of plugins to catch up. We can expect big packages like WorldEdit, Essentials, and McMMO to catch on quickly with the new game versions. Unfortunately though there are untold thousands of smaller ones that will be delayed. As always it is best to look around bukkit.org to minecraft forums to find out the latest on Minecraft news an updates. You can always follow us on twitter with @ApexMinecraft to stay up to date on things that can improve your servers performance.