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How to Manually Update WordPress Plugins via FTP

Do you want to learn how to manually update WordPress plugins via FTP? Sometimes, the 1-click WordPress plugin update fails, which can break your website. The only way to fix that is by manually updating the plugin. In this article, we will show you how to manually update WordPress plugins via FTP without breaking your website.

Manually updating WordPress plugins via FTP

Why Update WordPress Plugins Manually?

WordPress comes with a built-in system to manage core, theme, and plugin updates. All you need to do is click on the update link, and it will update your plugins. For more details, see our guide on how to properly update WordPress plugins.

However sometimes these updates can fail due to incorrect file permissions, incorrect version number, or other server configuration factors.

If an update gets interrupted midway, then you will end up with a broken site. You may see briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance error, syntax error, or internal server error.

The only way to fix this is by manually updating the WordPress plugin via FTP. By doing so, you will be able to fix those errors and continue using the latest version of the plugin.

Let’s take a look at how to manually update WordPress plugins via FTP.

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Manually Updating WordPress Plugins via FTP

First, you will need to download the latest version of the plugin you are trying to update. If it is a free plugin, then you can download it from the plugin page.

downloading a free WordPress plugin

If it is a premium plugin, then you can download the latest version from the specific plugin’s website. You will need to login to your account and download the plugin to your computer.

All plugins come in .zip files, so you need to extract them.

Unzip plugin file

Next, you’ll need an FTP client to be installed on your computer. We’ll be using FileZilla in our example, but you can use any FTP client you like.

To connect to your website using FTP, you will need to enter your website name in the hostname with your FTP username and password.

Connecting FTP client to your website

If you don’t know your FTP username or password, then check the email your WordPress hosting company sent you when you signed up. It usually contains your FTP username and password.

Alternatively, you can also find this information in the cPanel or in the hosting dashboard of your hosting account. For example, if your website is hosted on Bluehost, you can find the FTP credentials by logging into your hosting dashboard and then navigating to Advanced » FTP Accounts.

ftp files

Once you are connected to your website via FTP, you need to go to /wp-content/plugins/ folder.

You’ll see different folders for all the plugins you have installed on your WordPress site. Right click on the plugin that you want to update and then select ‘Rename’.

Rename old plugin folder

Now rename this plugin by simply adding -old to the plugin folder name. For example, wpforms-old.

Next, you need to download the renamed folder to your computer as a backup. This will allow you to revert back to the old version in case you need it.

Backup old version of plugin

After downloading the old plugin to your computer, you can delete it from your website.

Delete old version of plugin from your website

We also want to make sure that the plugin is deactivated in WordPress database as well. To do that, you need to simply login to your WordPress admin area and visit the plugins page.

You will see an error that the plugin has been deactivated due to an error.


Now that we have removed the old version, it is time to install the latest version of the plugin.

Switch to your FTP client and under the ‘Local’ section, locate the new plugin folder on your computer. Now right click and select ‘Upload’ from FTP menu.

Upload new version of the plugin

Your FTP client will start transferring the plugin folder from your computer to your website.

Once finished, you can login to your WordPress admin area and go to the Plugins page. You need to find the newly installed plugin and activate it.

Activate the latest version of plugin

You can now check the updated version of the plugin to make sure that everything is working correctly.

That’s all, you have successfully updated a WordPress plugin via FTP.

It is really crucial for WordPress security to always use the latest version of WordPress. It is also equally important to keep your WordPress plugins and theme updated.

If a WordPress plugin stops working after the update, then you can rollback the plugin and report the issue to the plugin developer.

However, there is no reason to continue using an outdated version. If the issue is not resolved in a timely manner, then you should look for an alternative plugin to do the job.

We hope this article helped you learn how to manually update WordPress plugins via FTP. You may also want to see our list of most common WordPress errors and how to fix them.

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13 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Hello everyone !
    I just saw the comments and I am glad to tell that whenever you delete a plugin and then reinstall it the whole data is restored ; let’s take an example of Woocommerce , the plugin which I updated via this method and my data was there….

    • It would depend on how it is deleted but you ar correct, this method would not delete the settings for the plugin :)


  2. Sometimes, plugins (and WordPress as well), need to make changes in the database during the update process. If you simply replace the files, the database update won’t happen, will it? And you will end up with new plugin files and incompatible database schema and/or data. Is that correct?

    • This is more for if the default update method did not work but WordPress and most plugins should check and give the option to update the database if needed to prevent those errors.


  3. When I have deleted the old plugin and now uploading the new one will my live site be broken because of it, for example, if I m updating Thrive Content builder or elementor??

  4. Thanks for the tutorial. I uploaded a brand new plugin, in the correct location, but for some reason it’s not showing in my list of plugins so i can activate it. Any idea why this would happen? Thanks.

    • Hi David,

      WordPress may not recognize a plugin if it cannot locate the plugin header. Please reach out to the plugin author to make sure that you are uploading the correct folder.


  5. I recently downloaded a social share button plugin from a third party. They’ve recently come out with an update. Can I just deactivate and delete the old version and then just download the new updated version and activate it instead of using FTP to update? Would that be easier? Thanks for your feedback.

  6. It does update the plugin but I’ve lost all my configurations and data. All SEO has gone :(

    I had 304 posts and I will have to redo SEO for all of them :(

    Please help me :( I don’t have backups because I trusted this site for all my WordPress issues.

    • Hi Emma,

      Which SEO plugin was that? Most WordPress plugins store data in your WordPress database and this data is not deleted when a plugin is deactivated or reactivated. You can also try reaching out to plugin authors for support.


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