I have a love-hate relationship with WordPress. I love it because it’s the simplest CMS, pretty damn dynamic, and I’m the most fluent with it. But, if there is one thing that drives me mad it’s simply this; WordPress rolls out a lot of updates, but sometimes they make my site broken. That or plugins or widgets don’t work correctly. While there is a way to disable automatic updates (see this article). In this article I want to give you a how-to guide on how to manually rollback to a previous version of WordPress, using your FTP.
What You Need:
- Previous version of WordPress (click here)
- FTP client (I use CyberDuck)
Time To Downgrade
It’s important to know which version of WordPress you’re currently using. Thankfully, WordPress makes this very easy on us. All you need to do is log in to your dashboard, and in your dashboard overview, you’ll see what version you are using. For me, I am using 4.0, but I want to rollback to 3.9.2.
1. Update/Deactivate Plugins
I probably should have mentioned this at the beginning of this article. But, always make sure you deactivate your plugins one by one to see if you can troubleshoot a plugin conflict. Also, make sure you update them to the latest versions. But, assuming you have done that make sure you go ahead and deactivate all your plugins. Then make sure you log out of your WordPress dashboard.
2. Earlier Version of WordPress
Now, as mentioned earlier in this article, you’re going to want to go to WordPress and download a zip file of the rollback we want. Go to WordPress and look for an earlier version of the plugin (click here).
3. Locate Files/Unzip
Locate the files that you have downloaded on your computer. Unzip the files.
4. FTP Login
Then login to your FTP client. Locate your root site. Usually, it is in the public-HTML folder. The goal is to locate your WordPress files. You will know you’re in the right directory when you see the folders wp-admin, wp-include, wp-content, etc.
Take all of these files and drag them to a folder for backup on your computer. I always do this just to play it safe. You can always revert back to the way things were if it wasn’t the problem.
5. Copy Files
What you’re going to want to do is copy all the files except the wp-content folder. You can do this by highlighting all the files, and command+clicking (MAC) or Control+clicking (Windows) users. Then drag all your files over to the root. Make sure you don’t accidentally drop them in a separate folder. It’s the reason I backup everything before doing the rollback :).
Make sure you don’t copy the wp-content folder!
6. Updating WordPress Database
It might take some minutes to transfer all the data. A little message should pop up on your FTP client asking you if you want to overwrite the files. Make sure you click “yes.” But, when you do, you’re going to want to login into your WordPress dashboard. You will see the following message:
Congratulations you have reverted to the previous version of WordPress. Don’t forget to activate all your plugins again. Hopefully, this solves whatever problem you might have been having!
Thanks for sharing this post. I agree WordPress is simple but the plugins sometimes don’t work properly just like right now on my other website the Google ads plug in doesn’t work.I’m still trying to fix it.
Try to disable all of your plugins and then manually enable them one by one. A lot of times there are conflicts with WordPress plugins. Meaning some of the plugins on WordPress don’t play well with each other. Just the other day I found out that Gravity Forms doesn’t play well with GC Message Bar.
Also, might want to wait a couple weeks before you update WordPress, because a lot of developers will fix bugs with WordPress updates a week or so after the update has been made.
WordPress is complex and difficult to understand at times but with the information you have provided it makes it easier to digest. Thanks for the vital and much needed information.
I have luckily never had to rollback my site, but I know sometime in the future I will need to know how to do this. Thank you for the write up. I will be bookmarking this for future reference.
Very clear instructions.
I always wait for a period before updating my wordpress version.
Just in case it’s not fluent and I don’t know how to downgrade it to the previous version.
Thanks for sharing!
Tim McMorris says
Helpful article! I thought I might mention that WordPress asked me to (not just if it’s just related to the version I rolled back to?) enter the database name, username, password, and host location to connect WP with the database (did this at login). This info can be found in the wp-config.php file so make sure you get that info!
Thanks a lot for pointing that out.
That was because you delete and upload, you have to upload overwritting..
Stephen Tran says
A million thanks. WordPress version 4.7 wrecked my layout. Your instructions, which are perfect, led to the fix.
Thank you for this post. I was worried my plugins suddenly failed, but now everything is in a proper working condition. The procedure is safe.
Thanks!! I was able to do a rollback easily because of your instructions.
I solved the problem. I copied to an incorrect folder. It all works now
Good to see you got it fixed 🙂