Automatic updates are great, especially for web applications. Apart from saving you some time, I believe they help to enhance security since updating is really easy if you just need to push a button. The ‘traditional’ workflow involves backing up, finding and downloading the most recent (compatible) version from an external site, unzipping, uploading via FTP, calling some update script, perhaps setting a maintenance mode, etc.
However, when using shared hosting there are some pitfalls. I just trapped into the “Unable to locate WordPress Content directory (wp-content).” error. Here’s what I did:
My web hoster allows many FTP logins, so I created one especially for WordPress and set its ftp root to the WordPress root
It seems that the error message is a little misleading, because it turned out that access to the temp-directory was the actual problem. In this post, user lightwolf posted a workaround:
putenv('TMPDIR=' . ini_get('upload_tmp_dir'));
Added to wp-config.php.
This fixed my problem.