The Manual WordPress Upgrade Fix, When Automatic Upgrades Fail

Technology is great – when it works. When it doesn’t, well…that’s when we need virtual super glue, paper clips and duct tape to fix it ‘MacGuyver-style with quick and creative thinking outside the box (so to speak).

Over the weekend, I had a lengthy discussion with a blog commenter about a situation she had after her own blog upgrade when her visual editor did not work after her upgrade to WordPress 2.8 and we discussed her attempt to apply a fix from my blog post. Ultimately she did get that resolved, but this is but one example of blog upgrading gone awry and how computer and browser settings, not to mention web host incompatibilities, could cause problems with an upgrade.

However, probably the biggest reason for a WordPress upgrade issue is with an incompatible plugin. One of the plugins that you’ve been using is no longer compatible with the new version of WordPress.

The other is when you use automated upgrade processes and they fail. Yes, my beloved automatic upgrade plugin is not perfect, and neither is the built-in WordPress auto upgrade. Anything where you just click a button and it’s supposed to happen ‘auto-magically’ has room for error and failure, so best be prepared with a backup Plan B “MacGuyver Style”.

Ok, so that sounds a wee bit more dramatic than it really is, and in all honesty, everyone should know how to manually upgrade a WordPress blog regardless of how you routinely do your upgrades. But this manual upgrade process and thinking a bit outside the box to problem solve and fix things when something goes wrong will serve you well in blogging.

Manual Upgrading A WordPress Blog

  1. Download the latest release of WordPress from
  2. Backup all of your site files by logging into your site via FTP and downloading those files to your computer. I usually create a folder and name it by the date and called it backup (i.e. 7-20-09wpbackup)
  3. Backup your WordPress database. If you have a WordPress database backup plugin, then use that and save the backup from that and save it to the backup folder you created and saved your site files. If not, then log into your hosting cpanel and go to your phpMyAdmin and backup the database from there and save it to your backup folder.
  4. Deactivate all your plugins
  5. Log into your site and delete all your WordPress files except DO NOT DELETE:
  • wp-config.php
  • wp-content folder
  • wp-images folder
  • wp-content/languages (if using a special languages file, otherwise delete)
  • .htaccess
  • robots.txt
  1. Then upload the new WordPress files to your site, overwriting any existing files on the server.
  2. Finish the upgrade process by going to to complete the upgrade process.
  3. Update your plugins, if applicable
  4. Reactivate your plugins

That’s it, your site is now upgraded. If you attempted to upgrade using an automated method that failed, following the above steps should fix the problem for you, even if the site was ‘broke’; just follow these steps to correct everything.

I’ve done the manual upgrade and my site is still broken, what should I do?

This is where thinking ‘MacGuyver-style’ and a bit out of the box comes into play. If you’re getting an error message, look at that message, it is most likely a plugin incompatibility causing the problems and the error message should give you a clue as to which plugin is causing the problem – deactivate that plugin and that should resolve the problem.

If the error message does not indicate which plugin; deactivate all plugins and then reactivate them one at a time – checking your site after each reactivation to find the offending plugin. Sometimes it’s a plugin that needs to be DEactivated that’s causing the problem, othertimes it’s a plugin that needs to be REactivated that’s causing the problem. Depends on the situation.

If the above does not solve the problem – put the error message into Google as a search and chances are someone else has had the same problem and you’ll most likely turn up a fix for your problem. If that does not help you – by all means, post here on the blog and I’ll be glad to help!

Like I said, it’s thinking a bit outside the box – almost like a detective and sometimes you need to be a bit creative in finding the fix; manually upgrading, looking at error codes, deactivating/reactivating pluging, Googling for answers and asking for help. Yes it’s all very technical – but the internet and computers are well… technical. Blogging certainly has a technical side to it, but I do my best to help make it easier.


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