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Upgrading WordPress in Ten Easy Steps

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It came to my mind to write an easy and short how-to to explain for not very techy people the way to upgrade their self-hosted WordPress, when one of my clients asked me why her admin interface was showing that she should upgrade WordPress to the latest version. She thought she had already done that. In fact she had, but to the version 2.5. Now it is a long time WordPress version 2.5.1 is available. Well, this can help my client to upgrade WordPress herself, but I would love also this this help hundreds of others. Enough with the words, let us begin.

Step 1 – Create an FTP account: Many know what FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is and already have their accounts. Well, those who do not have one can create it in their Administration Panel that their web host has provided them with. I hope you FTP-have-nots find this process easy.

Step 2 – Download an FTP application: There are many. To keep it short I recommend FileZilla , free/open source and easy to use. After you download it, you enter your FTP account info in it and have the files of your WordPress listed in it. To use it is very easy, as i previously said. You have there two environments, the online and the offline one. To upload or download by FTP just drag and drop files or right-click and use the menu.

Step 3 – Export the information to XML: This is done in case something goes wrong with the upgrade. This is not a real database backup, but you have your articles and comments at safe after you do so. To do that you just have to go to Manage => Export . Than follow the easy steps that it provides and export a copy of your content.

Step 4 – Deactivate all plugins: In your admin panel, under the Plugins menu, deactivate all plugins that you have there. Some plugins may conflict with the upgrade process because of the changes to WordPress, so this is another must.

Step 5 – Download the latest version of WordPress: To do so, just go to wordpress.org download section and get the latest version of WordPress in .tar or .zip. Make sure that you download goes fine because if not all the files are downloaded or there have been problems, you might have problems to run the new version properly, if not have errors all around.

Step 6 – Delete the old WordPress Files: You have to do so, unless your upgrade will not be successful. If you try just to overwrite the previous files, you will have problems as not every single file gets overwritten correctly. Keep in mind, you should not delete or overwrite in any way this files and folders :

  • wp-config.php file;
  • wp-content folder; Special Exception: the wp-content/cache and the wp-content/plugins/widgets;
  • wp-images folder;
  • wp-includes/languages/ folder–if you are using a language file;
  • .htaccess file–if you have added custom rules to your .htaccess;
  • robots.txt file–if your blog lives in the root of your site (ie. the blog is the site) and you have created such a file.

Step 7 – Upload the New Files: Upload the right files from your computer’s hard drive to the appropriate WordPress folder on your site. Make sure that you do not overwrite the files and folders mentioned at step 6.

Step 8 – Upgrade Database Structure: Do not be afraid, this is very easy. Just do so: If WordPress is installed in the root directory, point your browser to: http://yoursite.com/wp-admin/upgrade.php. If WordPress is installed in its own subdirectory called blog, for example, point your browser to: http://example.com/blog/wp-admin/upgrade.php. And wait for the upgrade success message.

Step 9 – Update Permalinks and .htaccess : Update your permalink structure, if you like it, into your .htaccess file. In your Options->Permalinks panel update your Permalink Structure and, if necessary, place the rules in your .htaccess file. This will happen when the .htaccess is not writable; you should have a tool to paste the code into it or otherwise it should be writable.

Step 10 – activate your Plugins: Now it is time to activate your plugins that you need or like. You can do that the same way back as you deactivated the plugins. It will be a loss of time to go on with this point.

And we are done. I hope you find this little effort of me to serve the community a good one. Any feed back would be very appreciated. Thanks!

Baki Goxhaj
I’m a web consultant specializing in WordPress. I love elegant solutions, quality code and a good laughter.
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10 Comments
  • Anand Dec 1,2011 at 3:43 pm

    Thanks for sharing good information. These are very easy and helpful tips for beginner struggling with upgrade of WordPress.

  • sandrar Sep 10,2009 at 1:44 pm

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

  • KVBUNTU May 29,2009 at 10:44 pm

    Thnks m8.
    This was very helpful. 🙂

    • BANAGO May 29,2009 at 10:52 pm

      Oh, thanks m8! Your comment is very appreciated too.

  • BANAGO Nov 5,2008 at 11:25 pm

    I am very happy to hear that Sondaj. You are most welcome!

  • sondaj Sep 15,2008 at 10:44 pm

    I always read your blog in high spirits. Thanks 🙂

  • BANAGO Jul 10,2008 at 4:00 am

    I think there is one. But I find this way more comfortable.

  • Gaje Master Jul 10,2008 at 2:44 am

    Isn’t there a plugin for automatic upgrading of wordpress?

  • BANAGO Jun 20,2008 at 1:18 pm

    Hey, thanks for the nice feedback. I would like to do that. As a matter of fact this blog is web design and wordpress oriented. Do you write about this things at yours? Let me know more.

    Nice to have you at my blog. 🙂

  • hategan2005 Jun 20,2008 at 7:54 am

    I love your site, and your post. It has such a friendly design. Though i am not a user of wordpres, i like wordpress a lot. how about making a friendship, mabe make a review about my site, and i will do the same ? Think about it 🙂

    hategan2005s last blog post..CAMEX 2008

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