Have you ever updated to the newest version of WordPress, and then noticed that your site starts to have a bunch of problems? Don’t freak out. A lot of the times, it’s an issue with a plugin or theme that’s not compatible with the newest update. Sometimes (rarely) there’s an issue with the WordPress update itself. Whatever the case, one of of the quickest solutions to bring your site back to normal is to downgrade WordPress back to the previous version.
Compatibility issues are one of the reasons I try to avoid plugins and themes that don’t get updated regularly. I don’t want to be stuck with an older version of WordPress just because one of my plugins or themes doesn’t work with the latest update. Before you go through the process of downgrading, I’d suggest checking to see if a plugin is what’s causing the issue. If it is, you can just disable the plugin until there’s an update for it. If it’s a problem with the theme though, that’s an entirely different story. That’s when you’ll want to consider downgrading your version of WordPress.
Before you downgrade, I’d highly recommend making sure you have a backup of your site just in case things don’t go as planned and everything gets screwed up. I’ve never run into an issue but I always have the feeling that the one time I downgrade and my site goes berserk, I won’t have a backup. There are tons of backup plugins for WordPress and your web host might/should be able to provide you with the latest backup they have.
The first thing you’re going to need is a previous WordPress release. You can download any of the previous WordPress versions here –> WordPress releases. Only downgrade down to the version before the newest one. Don’t go way back into the archives to version 1.1. Some of the older versions of WordPress have security issues that could put your site at risk.
Here’s how to downgrade WordPress to an older version.
Manual WordPress Downgrade Tutorial
Step 1: Deactivate All Your Plugins
After you’ve created a backup of your site and downloaded the WordPress version you want to downgrade to, it’s time to actually downgrade. The first thing you want to do is login to your WP Dashboard and deactivate all of your plugins.
Step 2: Logout of WordPress
After all your plugins have been deactivated, logout of WordPress.
Step 3: Use An FTP Client And Locate Your Site’s WordPress Files
This step will require that you have an FTP client. An FTP client allows you to access all of the files on your site. I use FireFTP from Firefox and FileZilla is another very popular option. Both are free and you can’t go wrong with either. The images in this tutorial are from FireFTP. In your FTP client, locate your WordPress files (wp-admin, wp-content, etc.). In FireFTP, they will be the first thing you see when you open your site’s folder.
Step 4: Delete The WP-Admin and WP-Includes Folders
Delete both the wp-admin and wp-includes folders. Do not touch the wp-content folder! You can leave all of the other files alone because you will overwrite them in the next step.
Step 5: Transfer The Files From The Previous WP Version to Your Site With FTP
While you’re still in your FTP client, go into the folder where you have the WordPress version you want to downgrade to. Transfer over everything except the wp-content folder. After all the files have been transferred, your downgrade is finished.
Step 6: Update Your WordPress Database
Login to your WP Dashboard. You will be prompted to update your WordPress database. Click on “Update WordPress Database” and then click continue to login.
Once you’re logged in, you should see that you’re running whatever version of WordPress that you downgraded to. Congrats!
A word of caution. I don’t recommend using older versions of WordPress when newer ones are available. Like I said in the beginning, a lot of the updates come with security patches to stop known security threats that could leave your site open to hackers.
If your theme isn’t compatible with the most current version of WordPress, contact the theme developer and let them know. If there’s no support offered for your theme, then you’ll want to switch to a different one that’s updated on a regular basis.
I hope you found my guide helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below!