How to Manually Update WordPress – An Indepth Guide

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If you have not made any changes to the settings of your WordPress site, there’s a big chance that you ticked the automatic update on the WordPress core. This is the most convenient way for most WordPress site owners, especially among those who have little to no technical knowledge about updating software, features, etc. of a website.

However, in the event that updates on the WordPress core needs to be manually updated, here are the steps on how you should do it.

How to manually update WordPress

steps to manually update wordpress core

If you use a managed shared or a premium wordpress hosting then you will hardly come across a situation in which you will need to manually update your website. But in case you are using a unmanaged hosting service or VPS and if you are facing problems with automatic upgrades then you can follow the steps provided below.

But before you start following any steps, don’t forget to fully backup your website. There are various free and premium backup plugins that will let you do this automatically, but you can also do so manually.

If you ask me which is my favourite free backup plugin then I will say updraftplus. It’s easy and you can set up within 2 minutes and most importantly it can connect to Google drive and Dropbox.

But in case you are planning to manually backup your website then you can scroll down and read the detailed steps.

Steps to manually update wordpress core

Once you are done with your backup, go back to your website and ensure that you have deactivated all the plugins installed on your website.

1. Download the newest version of WordPress from the official website. You will receive a ZIP file after you have downloaded it.

2. Unzip the downloaded file on your system and don’t edit anything inside it.

3. Now open filezilla or your favourite FTP software and connect to your hosting service. In case you don’t know what’s your ftp username and password then you can ask support from your hosting.

public html folder

4. Now try to find the public_html folder in the left hand sidebar. Click on it and then navigate to the root directory of your website using FTP and delete the directories named ‘wp-admin’ and ‘wp-includes’. You can also delete these directories manually if you want, or you can do this through SSH or shell commands (if your hosting provides access to them).

5. Now copy the new wp-admin and wp-includes directories (which you have on your desktop) into the root directory of your website. This will replace the directories that you have previously deleted.

6. Avoid deleting the wp-content directory and any of the files within it. All you need to do is just copy the same wp-content directory from the new version on to the existing same directory in your website. This will replace every existing file within the directory that has the same name. The other files in the wp-content remains intact.

7. Copy all single or individual files from the new version of WordPress’ root directory that you just unzipped before on your desktop into your WordPress website’s root directory. The new files get copied while replacing the the existing files. You don’t need to worry about wp-config.php file as it doesn’t get affected with the replacements at all since WordPress don’t distribute that file in the first place.

8. Take a look at the wp-config-sample.php in the new version to see if there are any new settings added that you might want to modify or use in your WordPress website.

Note. If you are manually updating the WordPress core because the auto-update failed then you must delete the .maintenance file from the root directory of your website. Not doing so will only make your update fail again because there is the message ‘failed update’ in the file.

9. Visit the main admin page of your WordPress site through /wp-admin/ wherein you will be required to sign-in to your account again. You might also be asked to upgrade the database, although you will be prompted to do this if WordPress finds there is a need for it. If you fail to sign in, try out clearing the cookies.

10. Now to the plugins section and now activate all the plugins again.

11. Clear the browser cache to make sure that you will see the changes. If your website is using a front-end cache such as ‘varnish’, you also have to clear that out in order to ensure the customers of your website will see the new changes.

12. At this point, the upgrading of the WordPress core is complete and you should be able to run through the newest version.

Steps to manually backup your site

You will first need to login to your wordpress website administration panel.

  • Once you are inside admin panel try to locate “Tool” in the left sidebar and and place your cursor on it. From the hover menu click on “Export”.
  • From the hover menu click on “Export” menu link. You will be directed to new page.
  • Now make sure that “All content” radio button is selected.
  • Finally, click on “Download export file” button.

So now you have all your text data which includes posts, pages, comments and settings. But you also need all your images, plugins, themes and other files in-case something wrongs happens.

For that, all you need to do is download the whole website directory by logging in to the server through the cPanel, or you can also use the FTP program like Transmit or FileZilla.

Once you have access to your website file directory (either using cpanel file manager or ftp) you need to download the whole wordpress folder on your system.

Why Update WordPress?

This is a question asked by those who are not used to upgrading their WordPress website. Also, you receive a lot of emails from themselves about a notice regarding the new version being out. Most of the site owners install plugins that either tells them of the new version being out or it automatically updates their website’s WordPress core.

WordPress constantly get updates from its developers and the reason for this is because they want to fix any problems that have been reported to them by their users, improve its performance, enhance any existing features to better serve the users and even add new features. This is to keep up with the standards of the current industry.

In other words, not updating our WordPress site means that you are risking your website on its flawed security and you also miss out on any of the improvements and new features added to the new version.


Not all WordPress website owners are concerned about the new features that come along with the new version, but the reason why all WordPress users update the core of their website is that they are concerned about security.

As of this writing, WordPress powers around 28 percent of the websites all over the world. One of the main reasons is because of how popular this CMS platform is and it is also for that very reason that it has become a delicious target for data thieves, hackers, the wannabe hackers, distributors of malicious codes and many others that want to take advantage and rob its users.

Since it is an open source code, any person can study its source code and learn it and find ways to improve any aspect of it. The downside of this open source CMS is that it gives way for hackers to study its flaws and break into websites using WordPress.

But it doesn’t mean that all hackers are bad. You’d be surprised that the good hackers outnumber the bad ones. They are usually those that are working as security experts, even in itself. For those that are hacking independently, they are usually the ones that report to the developers of any flaws, fixes or bugs that they find in the source code or errors found during runtime. Every time there is a flaw or error reported, the team behind WordPress works very hard to release updates and gets the issue fixed.

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