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How to Deactivate All Plugins When Not Able to Access WP-Admin

Do you need to deactivate all WordPress plugins, but you are unable to access the WordPress admin area?

During WordPress troubleshooting, you will be often advised to deactivate all plugins and then reactivate them one by one. But what if you can’t access wp-admin to deactivate them?

In this article, we will show you how to easily deactivate all WordPress plugins when you are not able to access the wp-admin area.

Deactivating all WordPress plugins without accessing admin area

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If you prefer written instructions or want to move at your own pace, then continue reading the instructions below.

There are two commonly used methods to deactivate plugins without accessing the admin area of your WordPress website. You can choose the method that looks easier.

Method 1: Deactivate All WordPress Plugins Using FTP

For this method, you will need to either use an FTP client or the file manager app in your WordPress hosting control panel.

If you haven’t used FTP before, then you may want to see our guide on how to use FTP to upload files to WordPress.

First, you need to connect to your website using an FTP client or the file manager in cPanel. Once connected, you need to navigate to the /wp-content/ folder.

Inside the wp-content folder, you will see a folder called plugins. This is where WordPress stores all plugins installed on your website.

Rename plugins folder

You need to right-click the plugins folder and select ‘Rename’.

Next, change the name of the folder to anything that you like. In our example, we will call it plugins.deactivate.

Plugin folder renamed to deactivate all plugins

Once you do this, all of your plugins will be deactivated.

That’s because WordPress looks for a folder called ‘plugins’ to load the plugin files. When it does not find the folder, it automatically disables the active plugins in the database.

Usually, this method is used when you are locked out of your admin area. If the issue was with your plugins, then you should be able to log in to your WordPress admin area.

If you visit the Plugins » Installed Plugins page inside the WordPress admin area, then you will see notifications for all the plugins that have been deactivated.

WordPress plugins deactivated

You will also notice that all your plugins have disappeared now. Don’t worry; they are all safe, and you can easily restore them.

Simply switch back to your FTP client and go to the /wp-content/ folder. From here, you need to rename the plugins.deactivate folder back to plugins.

Now, you can now go back to the Plugins » Installed Plugins page inside the WordPress admin area and activate one plugin at a time until your site breaks again.

At this point, you will know exactly which plugin caused the issue. You can then delete that plugin’s folder from your site using FTP or ask the plugin author for support.

Method 2: Deactivate All Plugins Using phpMyAdmin

The FTP method is definitely easier, in our opinion. However, you can also deactivate all WordPress plugins using phpMyAdmin.

Important: Before you do anything, please make a complete database backup. This will come in handy if anything goes wrong.

Next, you will need to log in to your web hosting dashboard. In this example, we are showing you a cPanel dashboard. Your hosting account’s dashboard may look different.

You will need to click the ‘phpMyAdmin’ icon under the Databases section.

phpMyAdmin in cPanel

This will launch phpMyAdmin in a new browser window.

You will need to select your WordPress database if it is not already selected. After that, you will be able to see WordPress database tables.

WordPress database tables

As you can see that all tables in the database have wp_ prefix before the table name. Your tables may have a different database prefix.

You need to click on the wp_options table. Inside the wp_options table, you will see rows of different options. Find the option ‘active_plugins’ and then click on the ‘Edit’ link next to it.

Editing active plugins option

On the next screen, you will need to change the option_value field to a:0:{}.

Then, click the ‘Go’ button to save your changes.

Reset active plugins

You have successfully deactivated all WordPress plugins using phpMyAdmin. If a plugin was stopping you from accessing WordPress admin, then you should be able to log in now.

We hope that this article helped you deactivate all plugins in WordPress. You may also want to learn how to set up Google Analytics goals or check out our list of the best WordPress backup plugins to keep your WordPress data safe.

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Reader Interactions

335 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. I tried to deactivate my plugins using the FTP process on WordPress version 6.3, and the website crashed.

    I was able to rename the plugins file and restart it okay. Just letting you know.

    • Thank you for letting us know, it would depend on the specific error message for what could have happened but glad to hear you were able to fix the issue!


  2. In the article it says;
    On the next screen, you will need to change the option_value field to a:0:{.

    Which I think should be a:0:{}

  3. I have changed the file name in FTP as suggested and am able to log into the WordPress admin, but as soon as I change the file name back to the original, the error comes back. Which means I am not able to deactivate / reactivate plugins one at a time.

    Can you help?

    • In that case, you would want to use the second method from the article and that should force the plugins to deactivate.


  4. Thanks a lot for the information. I had activated Google reCaptcha v3 in Ultimate Member and was not able to login to the wp-admin using super admin details. I just renamed the directory recaptcha under directory plugin from FTP and the trick worked, it allowed me to login and disable Google reCaptcha v.3 from dashboard. Thanks a ton.

  5. Thank you for this post and all the options. I did the PHPmyadmin one before but this time I just renamed the plugin file in cpanel. So much easier and faster and it triggered a “database repair” notice. I did that and found that my Options table had crashed. I renamed the plugins file back to the original and ran the repair database again and it worked fine!

  6. I had a problem with my Jetpack plugin after I upgraded my PHP and WP. It would not let me deactivate or delete it. I went in the WP plugin folder and renamed the Jetpack plugin folder. Refreshed the plugin admin page in WP and Bob’s your uncle! I deleted the plugin through the admin panel and removed the folder from the root.

  7. I wasn’t having luck with either method but I found a backup from the day before which worked fine.

    • Thank you for sharing that, restoring from a backup when able is a good option to use


  8. It solved my problem. I was able to log in to the admin site of word press again. Thank you so much. You are a blessing.

  9. Hi, I did not install any plugins recenty, the only thing i did I changed the email.When I finished the process few hours later I could not enter The Dasboard (Sorry, you are not allowed to access this page). Any solutions Ty

  10. LIFESAVER! Thank you so much for this content! It worked in an instant and I’m back into my Admin dashboard!

  11. Unfortunately, both of these options did not help (still get error saying site is experiencing technical difficulties) after doing a plugin update (also updated wordpress 5.4 yesterday? could that be the culprit?)

  12. Hello,

    I need a help. whenever i tried to access my website I got download option. I tried your all above suggestions but it’s was’nt work for me. I renamed my plugin folder in my cpanel as plugin.deactivate after that I did changes in phpmyadmin in wp-options I edited active plugin folder . still I got download option. what should I do now .
    Thanks in advance.

  13. Hello , tried your suggestion but i am unable to alogin into my wordpress admin area.any other suggestion?this is emergency.

  14. I want to install the Yoast SEO plugin in wordpress. After I do that I need to Deactivate the plugin currently used, correct? I am new to working with WordPress and I need to do this on my own since the guy that made my website abandoned helping me any further! Any Help would be so Much appreciated! Thanks!

    • You would only need to remove your other plugin if it is an SEO plugin. If it is then you would want to remove it to prevent some common issues.


  15. Omg! You guys saved the day! Thank you so much! After I have spent so much time trying to get my site fixed your easy to follow guide had it fixed in minutes. So thank you!

  16. Hi,

    When I go to my website or the wp-admin page, my browser tries to download a file instead of displaying the page.

    • If disabling your plugins didn’t help, you would want to reach out to your hosting provider and they should be able to assist with that issue


  17. Thanks a lot – this is a site saver!

    Quick question: after the plugin folder is renamed, when go back in the wordpress WP – admin back office plugins list, is it safe to delete such plugin (which folder has been renamed), or will this action be harmful?

    Many thanks!


    • Using the delete method inside your WordPress site would be the best method for removing that plugin permanently as it will go through the uninstall steps of the plugin.


  18. Which FTP program is for free and it is good to down load without giving the full permissions to take over your computer s full admin.?

  19. Great Stuff! I used the 2-factor authentication plug-in, and could not login to my wordpress dashboard anymore. Your ftp solution solved it 100%.

  20. hi

    why i cannot sign in to wordpress admin of my subdomain?

    it appears IP Options -ExecCGI

    on my site. can u solve my problem?

    • For that message, you would want to reach out to your hosting provider and they should be able to help you fix it :)


  21. Hello,
    My Word Press site displays normally to visitors but I am getting the WSoD on the WP-Admin login page.

    I have tried increasing WordPress Memory to 512Mb and I have tried disabling all plugins. Neither seem to have helped.

    I checked and the site was still loading normally but with all the plugins clearly not running. But I get the WSoD when I try to login as admin

    I re-activated plugins and everything went back to normal for visitors.

    Have you any suggestions what to try next?

  22. I’M NOT A DEVELOPER – Please help!

    I was having issues logging into wordpress so I deactivated all plugins in cPanel phpMyAdmin. Now, I cannot find my active plugins in wp-option/option name. When I look in wp-content there is a plugins.bak file which shows all of my installed plugins. How do I reactivate them?

    • You would want to reactivate them manually in your wp-admin area of your site


  23. Hi

    I deactivated all the plugins by changing the ‘plugin’ name in FileZilla. But the problem is I can’t enter my website at all to see what plugins aren’t working. This is what comes up when I try to login: Cannot modify header information – headers already sent by (output started at /home/content/p3pnexwpnas17_datahtml/wp-config.php:1) in /home/content/p3pnexwpnas17_data0/html/wp-includes/pluggable.php on line 1223

    please help me! thanks!

  24. Hi

    Through Godaddy, I have an sftp so it didn’t work with. When I changed the protocol to sftp ssh file transfer a dialogue appeared saying ‘the server key is unknown…….do you want to trust it …etc’ what do I do?

    • It is letting you know you have not used that key before, if you reach out to your hosting provider with the information they can confirm the key is for them


  25. Thank you so much! That helped a lot with the error that crashed my page. And saved my night. And my sanity.

  26. This was a big help. Renaming the plugin directory did the trick for me and once I located the problematic plugin all is well. Thanks for the info.

  27. Thank you so much, your article saved my site ! I faced error 500 during a plugin-upgrade. Just like you told : renamed \plugins, then could connect as wp-admin. I saw my site in an uggly way but worked technically. All plugins seemed’uninstalled’. I renamed my folder to \plugins again. Refreshed my wp-admin page and i could activate one-by-one. You are fantastic, thx for the article!

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