WordPress: A Puzzling Content Management System
Millions of websites are powered by WordPress, a platform that boasts an easy-to-use interface and countless customization options. However, despite its security and reliability, updates may cause a host of problems such as plugin or theme incompatibilities that stem from updating to the latest software version. If you’ve encountered roadblocks after an update, you may notice your site’s stability and functionality threatened, motivating you to revert to a previous version of WordPress.
Unpacking the Why Behind Reverting to a Previous Version of WordPress
To begin exploring how to do this, let’s first dive into the reasons why you might want to revert to an older version:
- Plugin or theme incompatibilities:
- Plugins and themes require updates to maintain compatibility with the latest WordPress version. When they’re not adequately updated, your website may cause errors or crashes as it tries to communicate via the latest software version.
- WordPress updates are regularly released to address security issues and fix bugs. With each update comes the possibility, though, that new bugs or security vulnerabilities can also appear, exposing you to a new host of problems.
- If you’ve personally modified your WordPress site – for example, altering the theme or adding custom code – the software update may overwrite these vital changes.
Backing Up Your Site Before Reverting
Don’t jump into the process without first backing up your website. Follow these steps to prevent data loss:
- Log in to your WordPress website.
- Go to the dashboard and click on the “Tools” menu.
- Select “Export” to export your website’s content.
- Save the XML file to your computer.
- Use a backup plugin such as UpdraftPlus to create a complete backup of your website, including files and databases.
Downloading the Previous Version
Now that your site is sufficiently backed up, it’s time to download the previous version of WordPress:
- Go to WordPress.org.
- Click on the “Download” button.
- Scroll down to the “Previous Releases” section.
- Select the version of WordPress you want to download.
Rolling Back to a Previous Version of WordPress
To revert to the previous WordPress software version, follow these steps:
- Deactivate all plugins: Go to the “Plugins” menu in your WordPress dashboard and deactivate all plugins. This will prevent any plugin conflicts during the update process.
- Delete the current WordPress files: Access your website’s files through FTP or the file manager provided by your web host. Delete all the files and folders except for the “wp-config.php” file, the “wp-content” folder, and the “wp-uploads” folder.
- Upload the previous version of WordPress: Extract the files from the downloaded ZIP file of WordPress and upload them to your website’s root directory.
- Update the “wp-config.php” file: Open the “wp-config.php” file and update the database details, if necessary, to match your previous version of WordPress.
- Log in to your WordPress dashboard: Once you have completed the previous steps, you can log in to your WordPress dashboard. You may see a message to update your database. Click on the “update database” button to complete the process.
Updating Site Elements After Reverting
After you have successfully reverted to the previous version of WordPress, follow these actions to ensure your website remains properly updated:
- Update plugins and themes: Go to the “Plugins” and “Themes” menus in your WordPress dashboard and update any outdated plugins and themes.
- Update WordPress: Once all the plugins and themes have been updated, go to the “Dashboard” menu in your WordPress dashboard and select “Updates.” Click on the “Update Now” button to update WordPress to the latest version.
- Reactivate plugins: Once you have updated WordPress, it is safe to reactivate your plugins.
A Final Thought
Reverting to a previous version of WordPress is no small feat. It should only be attempted after significant issues with the latest update arise, and with the realization that the process itself is complex and potentially problematic. Be sure to back up your site before jumping in and updating your previous site changes once you’ve reverted, so your site maintains its necessary security and functionality.