Beginner's Guide for WordPress - Start your WordPress Blog in minutes.
Choosing the Best
WordPress Hosting
How to Easily
Install WordPress
Recommended
WordPress Plugins
View all Guides

How to Manually Update WordPress Using FTP

Last updated on by
Elegant Themes
How to Manually Update WordPress Using FTP

WordPress can automatically update itself to a new minor release without any user input. For major updates, WordPress shows a notification that an update is available and a user can initiate the update by simply clicking a button. However, sometimes you may come across a situation when updating from WordPress admin area is not possible. In this article we, will show you how to manually update WordPress using an FTP client.

Preparing Your Site for Update

First thing you should always do before any update is to backup WordPress. If you do not have access to WordPress admin area, then you can still backup WordPress manually.

After backup, you need to download a fresh copy of latest WordPress software from WordPress.org to your desktop and extract the zip archive. Inside the zip archive, you will find a folder named wordpress.

If you don’t already have a FTP client installed on your computer, then you need to download and install an FTP client. We recommend using Filezilla because it is free and works on both Windows and Mac.

Upload WordPress Files Using FTP

Connect to your website using your FTP client. See our guide on how to use FTP to upload files to WordPress.

Once you have connected to your website using FTP client, go to your website’s root directory. Now upload all the files inside wordpress folder from your desktop to your website’s root directory.

Uploading WordPress files from your PC to your Server

Your FTP client will start uploading files from your PC to your web hosting server. During the update process, your FTP client will ask you that filename already exists in the target directory, please choose an action. Select Overwrite and then check the box always use this action.

Overwrite existing files during FTP upload

Updating WordPress Database

A new WordPress release may come with changes into WordPress database. This would require a database update. Once you have uploaded all the files to your website, simply go to your WordPress admin area. WordPress will now show you a database update required notification.

Database update required notification

Simply click on Update WordPress Database button to proceed. WordPress will show you a success message after updating your database.

That’s all. You have successfully updated WordPress manually to the latest version.

Remember, you should always keep WordPress updated to the latest version. We hope this guide helped you manually update WordPress on your site. For feedback and questions, please leave a comment below.


Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress lovers led by Syed Balkhi. Page maintained by Syed Balkhi.

WPBeginner's Video Icon
Our HD-Quality tutorial videos for WordPress Beginners will teach you how to use WordPress to create and manage your own website in about an hour. Get started now »
  • Jason

    I tried this and it didn’t work – my admin log in page is now gone.

    I would guess that if you overwrite all of the files – the fresh wordpress files are not going to have the info to connect to the database.

    • http://www.wpbeginner.com/ WPBeginner Support

      Actually no. If you are updating a freshly downloadeed copy of WordPress and uploading it to your server, then that copy of WordPress does not contain wp-config.php. So your old wp-config.php file will remain unchanged. This is the file containing information about how to connect to your database.

  • Cecilia

    Thank you! This was very helpfull.

  • Marios of Infolific

    One drawback of this approach is that files removed from the WordPress core will remain on your server. Instead, it might be worth taking the extra step to synchronize via FTP and allow the synchronization program to remove files from the server. Of course this should be restricted to the admin and include folders and not for your themes and plugins.

  • Kushal

    Great ! I worked for me. Thanks. But I didn’t get any option to update database, is that an issue?

    • http://www.wpbeginner.com/ WPBeginner Support

      No, if your database does not need any changes WordPress will not prompt you for a database update.

  • adolf witzeling

    If admin access is not possible, wouldn’t it be pointless to update WP without updating the database (which is only possible through admin panel)?

    • http://www.wpbeginner.com/ WPBeginner Support

      Adolf, nope you can not update database without updating WordPress, so hopefully the WordPress will update any problems an admin might be having in accessing wp-admin area. Then they can upgrade database. However, in case a user still can’t access wp-admin then they should try steps mentioned in our locked out of admin area guide.

  • Tim

    Shouldn’t the “wp-content” folder be excluded from uploading? Otherwise Themes, Plugins, Uploads etc could be overwritten as well…?

    • http://www.wpbeginner.com/ WPBeginner Support

      Tim since a user is over writing files, the default WordPress installation does not come with a user’s customized themes. It has default themes, akismet and hello dolly as plugins, and it will not affect your uploads in any way. However, if a user has made direct changes into default theme files then those will be over-written during update. That is why recommend using Child Themes.

      • aaron

        Tim is correct. I followed this post to manually update wordpress with a custom theme. Using this process it completely erased the custom theme, plugins etc that I had installed, and reverted to the default wp-content directory that comes with the wordpress installation. Thankfully I had a backup to re-upload the missing files. After this happened I did some further research and found the correct process at https://codex.wordpress.org/Updating_WordPress#Manual_Update . Hopefully this might prevent somebody from losing some vital files through the process explained in the above post.

        • http://www.wpbeginner.com/ WPBeginner Support

          Aaron, when you upload the wp-content it only over-writes files that already exist and does not delete anything from your server.