Quick-ish Manual WordPress Upgrade

Here’s a tip for those new to upgrading WordPress if you don’t like, or trust, the automatic upgrade. It’s relatively quick, easy, and leaves you with minimal downtime while still retaining the ability to revert back.

Note that I keep WordPress in its own folder to keep the files/folder structure on my webserver clean… It’s key in this upgrade method.

  1. Always make a backup of your WordPress database before proceeding!
  2. Manually download the WordPress zip file.
  3. Open your FTP program of choice and upload the zip file to the same folder level that your WordPress folder resides.
  4. Unzip the WordPress zip file on your webserver.
    • This can cause weird problems if you unzip it on your local computer before uploading.
    • It will unzip it to a “wordpress” folder, so make sure that this is not the folder name that you choose to keep your WordPress files in.
  5. Compare the wp-config-sample.php of the new version, to your existing wp-config.php.
    • If there isn’t any new content (like new salt/keys, etc.), then copy your wp-config.php to the new folder “wordpress/”.
    • If there is new content, save the new wp-config-sample.php as your new wp-config.php and copy over your settings from your original wp-config.php. Then make any other changes needed for the new content.
  6. Copy your theme folder from the old install to the new install location.
  7. Copy your plugins files/folders from the old install to the new install location.
    • The new install already has Akismet and Hello Dolly – so you can leave these.
    • It’s a good idea to verify that your plugins are all compatible with the new version before doing this.
  8. Copy over any of the other folders & files from your old wp-content (like “uploads”, “cache”, “backup-db”, etc.)
    • Up through this point, you’re still using the old version and have had zero downtime. You can choose to wait and finish later without having any impact.
  9. Rename your old WordPress folder to something else, like “wp_old”.
  10. Rename the new WordPress folder to the name of your old WordPress folder.
  11. Open your browser and go to YourDomain.com/Your-WordPress-Folder/wp-admin.
  12. You will be prompted to update your database if necessary.
  13. Verify that everything functions.
  14. Remove the “wp_old” folder.

Done! It’s not as fast as the automatic upgrade, but it’s great for the paranoid, or those who prefer to just perform the upgrade themselves.

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