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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 cannot access the WordPress admin area?

During WordPress troubleshooting, you’ll be often advised to deactivate all plugins and then re-activate them one by one. But what if you cannot access the WordPress admin area to deactivate the plugins?

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

Deactivating all WordPress plugins without accessing admin area

Video Tutorial

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

Basically, there are two commonly used methods to deactivate plugins without accessing the admin area. We’ll show you both of them and then you can pick one that looks easier.

Method 1. Deactivate All WordPress Plugins Using FTP

In this method, you will need to either use a FTP client, or the file manager option in your WordPress hosting control panel.

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

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

Rename plugins folder

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

You need to right-click on the plugins folder and select Rename. Next, change the name of the plugins 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.

Basically, 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 login to your WordPress admin area.

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

WordPress plugins deactivated

You’ll 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 “plugins.deactivate” folder back to plugins.

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

At which point, you will know exactly which plugin caused the issue. You can then delete that plugin 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 sure that you make a complete database backup. This will come in handy if anything goes wrong.

Next, you will need to login 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 on 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 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. You will need to 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:{} and then click on Go button to save your changes.

Reset active plugins

That’s all, you have successfully deactivated all WordPress plugins using phpMyAdmin. If it was a plugin stopping you from accessing the WordPress admin area, then you should be able to login now.

We hope that this article helped you deactivate all plugins in WordPress. You may also want to see our list of the best WordPress backup plugins to keep your WordPress data safe, and our expert pick of the best WordPress plugins for all sites.

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325 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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

      Admin

  4. 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.

  5. 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

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

  7. 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?)

  8. 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.

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

  10. 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.

      Admin

  11. 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!

  12. 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

      Admin

  13. 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!

    Mig

    • 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.

      Admin

  14. 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.?

  15. 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%.

  16. 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 :)

      Admin

  17. 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?

  18. 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

      Admin

  19. 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!

  20. 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?
    Thanks!

    • 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

      Admin

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

  22. 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.

  23. 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!

  24. Thanks so much for the advice about disabling plugins via FTP. Worked perfectly when I felt a little panicked after an upgrade!

  25. Thank you SO MUCH, this worked perfectly. As soon as I disabled the plugins using your method I was able to login – phew – and reactive each plugin as I needed them. Hadn’t accessed the site backend in a while so it was time to do a cleanup. Again, you saved me so much time. Thank you xx

  26. Good article but sadly did not solve my problem which is this.

    I could not change from Text to Visual, it was only on visual, could not insert Media and could not edit the Permalink!

    If I rename plugins folder my editor works fine, but it I rename all the plugins individually I still have the problem and so could not find which is causing the problem, maybe two are causing it…. Any advice?
    Help…….

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