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Detailed Guide to Manually Update WordPress Through FTP

Detailed Guide to Manually Update WordPress Through FTP

WordPress has been insisting on new version release so as to enable more advanced features for users. To reap more benefits from this great site-building platform, regular WordPress update is required. This detailed guide focuses on how to manually update WordPress via FTP. That is especially practical when the automatic update cannot work normally on your website.

We are going to complete WordPress update through an FTP client for which enables a way to upload and transfer files. The selected one in this guide is FileZilla. Before everything, download this FTP client on your computer and then lay the groundwork for WordPress manual update.

Preparations: Act on website backup in case of data loss and files broken. To simplify matters, you’d better take a good use of backup plugin, like BackUpWordPress, BackWPup and WP-DBManager. Note that, the WP-DBManager is great for database backup and management.

Download the Latest Version of WordPress

WordPress 4.2.2 has been launched on 7 May 2015, acting as a strong opponent for cross-site scripting vulnerabilities. Download the latest version of WordPress via WordPress.org in zip format. That is a 6.5MB zip file. Have a clear idea about which folder holds the loaded file and then move on to the following stops.

Download Latest WordPress

Unpack the WordPress zip file to the current folder by using a compressor. And then, a new folder named as WordPress is extracted, further including a list of subfolders and PHP files.

WordPress Extracted Folder

Upload WordPress to Website Using FTP

Open the FTP client you have downloaded on your computer beforehand and then connect it to the server where your website is hosting on. Copy the document root for WordPress folder and paste it to the “Local site” field. All content of WordPress folder is shown below the local site. You can also do it by opening the parent folders one by one.

If you need to preserve the existing themes and plugins, you should delete wp-content folder included in the WordPress folder. This is because that all themes and plugins are included in the wp-content folder from the old version. Since the wp-admin folder includes login information of a website, you are required to delete wp-admin folder as well for the sake of website security. In this way, the original themes, plugins and any admin information are preserved.

Delete wp-admin & wp-content Folders

Having all changes done, get started to upload the rest content to your site. Decide the root directory for your website via “Remote site” field and then select all content included in the WordPress folder. Right-click it and upload the content to your website.

Upload WordPress Files

And then, a box pops up and asks you whether to overwrite the target files. Check “Overwrite” action and click “OK” to replace all files that already exist. After having all files uploaded, log into your website and check if there is a message said “Database Update Required”. If so, click “Update WordPress Database” as required.

Finally, click “Continue” button to complete database backup and check the current version via your dashboard. If the current version is the latest one, you have successfully updated WordPress.

latest WordPress Version

Have a Try on cPanel

If you are running a website with a cPanel hosting solution, you might as well have a try on cPanel, which enables easy update for WordPress only with a few clicks. Log into cPanel and go to Files > File Manager. Here you come to the File Manager for your website. Make sure that you have downloaded the latest WordPress zip file and unzip it on your computer. Click Upload button and you are directed to an Upload Files page. Check the option “Overwrite existing files”.

Update WordPress Files

Click “Choose File” and target the extracted WordPress folder on your computer. If there is a need to preserve the original login information and the existing themes & plugins, you should delete the wp-content folder and wp-admin folder, and then upload the WordPress folder. All content included in the old version is overwritten automatically. The last step is to log into your WP admin and update database when prompted.


Lucy has been a very experienced SEOer, technical writer, web developer, c# developer since 2002. Now she owns a startup in San Francisco, CA, focusing on running a couple of blogs to share knowledge and experience with global readers and deliver exceptional results to global sponsors by leveraging the power of Internet.