I ran through several of my blogs yesterday and upgraded them the latest version of WordPress. (Hey, I was waiting for a client to get back to me. I had to do something.) I get asked a lot about upgrading people, and it seems the majority of folks are afraid of messing things up. I’m here to tell you – that’s hard to do. Really. If you can install a plugin, you can upgrade your blog.
I’m giving you a step-by-step tutorial so that you can upgrade yourself. Really, there’s no reason to not be using the most current version, except that it costs money unless you’re willing to do it yourself.
WordPress 2.7 and above has auto-upgrade built-in. If your installation requires upgrading, you will see a prompt at the top of your admin panel. Look under “Tools” and select “Upgrade”, and follow the on screen instructions.
* * * END UPDATE * * *
For versions previous to 2.7: There’s a plugin for this, as well. WordPress Automatic Upgrade is available here. Be sure to read through all of the instructions before use. This plugin DOES THE BACKUP FOR YOU. I recommend you proceed with “manual” steps in the plugin so that you can download the backup to your own computer. :)
Without further blab, here’s how you do it (manually):
1. Create a backup of your domain through your CPanel, before changing anything on your domain. Delete your backup after you have successfully upgraded, as they can take up quite a bit of space.
2. Deactivate all plugins.
3. Download and unzip the most current version of WordPress to a location you’ll remember on your hard drive. For example, I keep all of my downloads in a WORDPRESS folder and I create a subfolder for the latest version release.
4. Open your FTP Client. For the purpose of this tutorial, I am going to use and recommend SmartFTP. What is it? “SmartFTP is an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) client which allows you to transfer files between your local computer and a server on the Internet.” The personal edition is free, however you do get a popup telling you to license it when you open it.
5. In the address bar, input your FTP access information. This most often is the same Login and Password used to access your CPanel. Your FTP address is most often your domain, like mine is intricateart.com. Some require ftp.yourdomain.com, most do not. Usually you receive all of this information from your hosting provider when you sign up for your hosting account. If you need to create an FTP, you do that in your CPanel – and if you need instructions for that let me know.
6. Once you’ve accessed your domain via FTP, you’ll look for your public_html or www folder (www ONLY if you do not have a public_html). Open your public_html by double clicking it. The contents will appear in the right pane:
7. If your blog is in the root directory (for the purpose of this instruction, I assume that it is), you will look for, select and hit DELETE on the following (delete individually so you don’t include something you shouldn’t) :
- wp-admin folder
- wp-includes folder
**note, if you have custom smileys or other custom images, open your wp-includes folder and delete all but the images folder.**
**do NOT delete wp-config.php. This contains information that tells WP how to access your database.**
8. Now that your old version is completely gone, you will click and drag from the folder where you downloaded the most recent version – do this in small clumps, as your server may disconnect if you try to do too much at once.
I usually drag over the wp-admin folder, wait until that transfer is successful – then do all of the individual php files (select the first one, then press your shift key, and click the last one – then drag over to your ftp):
**note – the license.php, readme.html and wp-config-sample.php do not need to be transferred if you already have them. They are basically unchanged, but you can include them/overwrite if you wish.**
I do the wp-includes folder last, as that one is the largest. If it stalls out, just drag it over again and select “skip” on the files that were already written. If you’re familiar with creating folders, create the wp-includes folder and then open and drag over the contents in smaller chunks.
Once you’ve transferred all of the files from the new WordPress version to your domain via FTP, there are just a couple of things left to do.
9. Open a browser window to your blog address, and at the end of your address in the address bar, type:
So the final address, for example: http://yourblogaddress.com/wp-admin/upgrade.php
Hit enter. WordPress will prompt you through the upgrade process and tell you when it’s complete. There’s only one step, and depending on what versions you’re upgrading from and to, it could take a minute to upgrade the database, it could not require a database upgrade at all – you will get that information on the upgrade screen.
For the purpose of this instruction, I’m going to assume you’ve done it all right and you’ve gotten your success screen. Congratulations! If you did it wrong and something has gone amuck, you will have to hire someone to fix it, most likely. If you followed my instructions, you should be in good shape.
10. Login to your admin panel and reactivate each plugin ONE AT A TIME. Refresh your blog and make sure that plugin is working. If it does not work or breaks your blog, DEACTIVATE IT and look for an upgraded version of that plugin. WordPress will not allow most plugins to work if they cause fatal errors, but some of them still get by and cause errors.
You have now sucessfully upgraded your blog. Assuming it’s all hunkey-dory, you can delete your backup and write a wonderful self inflating post about how you just did it yourself and how easy peasy that was!