Like any other software WordPress community releases new updates frequently. You have to test and update your WordPress installation to keep the sites safe and secure. Sometime things can go wrong that the WordPress update can break your website’s layout or bring it down. It could be due to a plugin or theme conflict and you need developer’s help to fix the issues. However, you have to revert back the WordPress update to older version in order to bring your site up till the time of resolving the issue. In this article, we will explain about WordPress updates and how to revert back WordPress to previous version manually.
WordPress Minor and Major Updates
There are two types of updates released for WordPress – minor and major versions. Minor versions can be for security updates and bug fixing while major updates are meant for releasing functional changes.
- Updating from version 5.4.0 to 5.4.1 is a minor version
- Moving from 5.4.3 to 5.5. is a major version update
WordPress forces minor security updates and your website will be automatically updated to newer version. However, you have to manually update the installation whenever there is a release of major update or minor bug fixing. You have to go to the admin dashboard to check for any new version and update manually.
Auto WordPress Update
From version 5.5, WordPress introduced enabling auto update for themes and plugins that are available in the WordPress.org repository. However, there are no auto update options available for WordPress major versions. In order to help customers many hosting companies allow updating WordPress major versions automatically by enabling the option in hosting account.
Problems with Updates
Now that you have understood the WordPress versions and update process. There are two types of problem can happen with the WordPress updates.
- Auto update – you did not know there is a major version update and did not test the features.
- Manual update – you overlooked the functions of new version and went ahead with updates without proper testing on localhost or staging site.
In both cases, incompatible plugin or theme can cause fatal PHP error. The quickest option for you is to revert back the update to older WordPress version. If you have enabled auto update in hosting account, we strongly recommend to disable it.
Revert Back WordPress to Older Version
The best option during emergency is to restore the site from your backup. Hosting companies like SiteGround offers free and automated backup. You can restore the entire site with few clicks from your hosting account. Unfortunately, manually restoring the backup is a tedious task that may consume more time depending upon the file and DB size. Therefore, the quick fix is to revert back the WordPress version manually and try to bring the site back.
Step #1 – Understanding Before Acting
You will not be able to do any action from the frontend if your admin panel is also down. In case, if you can access admin panel, make sure to install a maintenance mode plugin and put your site offline. Also, deactivate all other plugins on your site to avoid any conflict like caching and security. Before reverting back to older WordPress version, understand the below points:
- First take up the backup of your current site files.
- All your theme and plugins are available under /wp-content/ folder, hence do not touch this folder.
- Similarly, do not touch wp-config.php file available in the server root. This file contains the database details to connect your site with your DB.
In addition, do not delete .htaccess and robots.txt files available in the installation root.
Step #2 – Download WordPress
By default, WordPress encourages to download the latest version, therefore you can only get the latest from their download page. In order to get previous version, go to the download release history page. Here, you can find all previous versions and download the zip installation package for the version you need.
After downloading, unzip the package and keep the files ready. There are three types of
- Individual or loose files like wp-login.php, wp-settings.php, etc. These files are available independently and you have to replace them in your site’s root installation. Remember, you should ignore wp-config.php file which is also an independent file on the root.
- Wp-includes and wp-admin – these are the major folders you have upload on your site to revert back to older version.
- Wp-content – do not use this folder
Step #3 – Replace wp-admin and wp-includes Folder
Login to your hosting server using FTP account and go to your site’s root installation. You can find files and folders similar to the content you have downloaded in step #2. Locate wp-admin and wp-includes folders and delete them. if you do not want delete, just rename them to different name. Later you can delete or revert back based on the situation.
After deleting the old folders, upload the new wp-admin and wp-includes folders of your previous WordPress version.
Learn WordPress: Check out 300+ free WordPress tutorials.
Step #4 – Replace Individual Files
Now, replace individual files on your root installation with the files downloaded in step 2. Remember, not to replace wp-config.php file also ignore wp-config-sample.php file.
Step #5 – Check Your Site
In most cases, your site should be accessible now and you should be able to login to your admin panel. Reactive all your plugins and check whether the site works fine. In case, if you have problems like broken layout there could be an issue with caching.
- Delete the cache if you are using any caching plugin.
- Flush the cache from server, if you have enabled server level caching.
- Go to wp-content folder using FTP and delete or rename the cache folder.
These steps will allow the caching plugin and server to regenerate the caching files and server proper content without breaking the site.
As mentioned, things can go wrong with WordPress update due to various reasons. Having entire backup of your website will help to restore quickly. If you do not have automatic server backups, it’s high time for you to change the host or upgrade the plan that includes auto backup. in addition, disable auto update to avoid any unforeseen issues with WordPress updates.