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Upgrading WordPress Is Easier Than You Think

Like the title says, upgrading WordPress isn’t as difficult as you might think. As long as you don’t have a lot of “core upgrades” i.e. direct edits to WordPress core files, it shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes. In this tutorial I’ll show you how in 3-4 simple steps.

  • Take a full backup first
  • Get the latest version of WordPress
  • Overwrite core files
  • Run the database upgrade script (if necessary)

This tutorial will be going over everything manually. You can use things like Fantastico and those “automatic upgrade” scripts at your own risk. It may be a good idea to read this guide on installing WordPress first, but not necessary.

Take a full backup first

One of the most important things you can do before doing any upgrade on your site is to take a full backup. This means files plus your database as well. I’ve written a previous guide on backing up your WordPress sites in my The Importance of Backing Up Your WordPress Site article. It goes over several methods of backing up your WordPress sites so I suggest you check it out before proceeding with the upgrade.

Get the latest version of WordPress

Always get WordPress from the official WordPress download page, and nowhere else. When you download here, you know you’re getting your files from the source – no funny business.

WordPress.org Download Page

You may also want to consider subscribing to their mailing list, which will send you updates whenever a new stable version is released.

Overwrite core files

When I say upgrade core files, I mean everything included in the WordPress folder except the /wp-content/ folder. This is where your themes, plugins, uploads, and other content is stored – which shouldn’t be deleted or overwritten.

Unzip and Upload

Unzip the file and open up your FTP client of choice. Some good ones include FileZilla, SmartFTP, and FireFTP. I’ll be using FileZilla in this example. Connect to your site, and start overwriting everything except the /wp-content folder.

WordPress FTP Upgrade

To save time, when prompted, select “overwrite” and Always use this action when a file already exists.

Run the database upgrade script

This sounds a lot scarier than it actually is. It is actually a very quick process. Simply navigate to your WordPress admin panel, you should see a screen like this.

WordPress Database Upgrade Required

Don’t listen to the The upgrade process may take a while, so please be patient bit. About 2 seconds later, you’ll see that your database upgrade was successful. This may or may not be necessary depending which versions you’re updating between.

Conclusion

Hopefully you now know how to upgrade your WordPress blogs with ease and get rid of what’s in this image – until the next update is released at least.

WordPress 2.5.1 Available

It’s always a good practice to take backups frequently, even when an upgrade isn’t necessary. If you have a lot of plugins, you may want to crosscheck them on this WordPress 2.5 plugin compatibility list, or whichever list corresponds with the latest WordPress version is. Same goes for themes, although you shouldn’t have much trouble with those. If you’re a techy type – you may want to look into upgrading WordPress with subversion.

Feel free to comment and share if you liked this guide. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. Subscribe to the feed for more updates on theme releases and new tutorials.

Comments  Leave a Reply

  1. I have been dreading upgrading a couple of websites with the new version of WP. Your instructions were absolutely the best. Thanks! Why can’t they put such easy instructions on the WP site? Fantastic. Thanks again!

  2. Can this setting upgrade WordPress from 2.3.1 to 2.8.4? I need to help my mum to do that. Please kindly reply, thanks!

  3. Marketing Meerkat August 26, 2009 at 3:37 am

    Thank you so much… That was really helpful!

  4. Life of db » Blog Archive » In and Out in 34 Minutes June 16, 2009 at 10:24 am

    […] at 2.8 (downloadddd). For upgrade instructions, check here (don’t let it scare you)… so check here. It’s super easy. A lot more easy than one would lead you to believe. The important part to […]

  5. Hi, thanks for the info, it really is easy to upgrade. I’m hoping that you or someone else knows how to upgrade a wordpress installation created in WP Direct, though. I decided to copy out my files from there and manage them on my own, but now I can’t upgrade them. The error log shows compat.php errors. arrggghhh.

    If anyone knows what’s up with WP direct installs, please let me know.

    Thanks!
    Cheryl

  6. Hi,

    Thanks for the guide. It really helped me when I couldn’t access my admin cpanel (so I couldn’t use the auto-updater). This post saved me 🙂

  7. Thanks so much for the post. This was as easy as you reported. Sad that I’ve been just delaying and delaying the upgrade, because it was totally painless. I think I feared that my theme would break and that it would require a bunch of work on my part. In fact, it was the exact opposite.

  8. @Nate: It may or may not be necessary to upgrade the database, if that’s what you’re asking.

    @faidon: Are you sure all the files uploaded properly?

  9. you make it sound so easy….
    here is what realiy is:

    Warning: require_once(../wp-load.php) [function.require-once]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/polyant9/public_html/mysite/wpe/wp-admin/admin.php on line 7

    Fatal error: require_once() [function.require]: Failed opening required ‘../wp-load.php’ (include_path=’.:/usr/lib/php:/usr/local/lib/php’) in /home/polyant9/public_html/mysite/wpe/wp-admin/admin.php on line 7
    any ideas?

  10. […] to upgrade WordPress […]

  11. I can’t find the “upgrade wordpress” information on admin panel after I performed the file overwrite process in my FTP.

    Help?

  12. I just use a plugin to make an upgrade in just 5 minutes, it worked with over 20 WordPress installation without a problem. How To Upgrade To WordPress 2.5 In 5 Minutes

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  18. 42355353657ok May 5, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    thank you so much!!

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  22. @Hanne Sena: Yes, but there isn’t a wp-config.php file in that zip, it’s a sample. But you’re right – you should “upgrade” the config file as well, just maintain the database info.

    Thanks for commenting!

  23. ermm, i think you forget to mention the wp-config file. ^^P

  24. BlueCirclet Community April 26, 2008 at 6:43 pm

    Easy way to upgrade your WP ?…

    for sure all wordpress self-hosted bloggers have noticed the new upgrade from wordpress.org
    the release of the new version .
    for some point having that annoying yellow tip in the top of my dashboard

    it really made me to download the last version and u…

  25. Nice , that is mostly what i have done today .
    and TBH , the last updates really fixed
    some media uploader issue i was having with the older version

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