How to easily change your Website’s WordPress version

WordPress is a fantastic content management system (cms). It’s easy to use for both the technical and non technical minded person. It’s free. It has 100’s of free plugins and is always being updated. WordPress frequently offers version updates, but one should be careful before pushing that “Update now” button”. Your Website could break. Let me explain why.


Your WordPress Website likely has plugins (extra tools) also installed. Each of these tools, are designed and tested to work up-to a certain WordPress version level by its creator. If all of your plugins are tested to work up to WordPress version 4.5 for example, then it may NOT be a good idea to upgrade your WordPress version to 4.6.1.

Perhaps you have WordPress 4.3.9 and want to upgrade your WordPress version to 4.5, but not the highest version. Or, you pushed the “update now” button” for the latest WordPress version and now some of your Website plugins don’t work. Here is how you can either upgrade or downgrade your WordPress version. Note: You will need an FTP program such as FileZilla FTP to upload and download your Web files. You will also need access database to make a backup. Most Web hosting providers offer access to this via their CPanel. If unsure, just ask your web hosting provider or your IT person or you can always contact me for help.

Backup current Database and Website folders

  1. Create a folder on your hard drive called “Current Database backup”. Save your database sql file on your hard drive in this folder.
  2. Create a folder on your hard drive called “Current WordPress files”.
  3. Using your FTP tool to login to your Website via FTP. In the main directory you will see a list of folders. ‘wp-admin’, ‘wp-content’ and the ‘wp-includes’

  4. Download a copy of the ‘wp-admin’ and the ‘wp-includes’ folders to your “Current WordPress files” folder on your hard drive.
  5. Download all of the files you see listed below the last folder called ‘wp-includes’.

    WordPress core files
  6. Your “wp-config.php” file is important. Be sure to have a copy of this file. This is NOT being replaced.
  7. Stay logged into your FTP session.

Download the WordPress version of your choice

  1. Go to the WordPress Release Archive to download the WordPress version you wish to have. This may be a higher version level or lower version level depending on your need. Website =

    WordPress Archives
  2. Download and save the WordPress version to a folder or directory on your hard drive. You will then want to extract the ZIP file to that folder using an unzip tool on your system. Using a Windows built-in tool, you can simply right-click on zip file and choose “Extract all”. It will ask you a location and then unzip the zile file.

    WordPress version zipfile
  3. You will end up with a folder called WordPress. In it will be 3 folders and some files.

    WordPress files
  4. You will need everything , except the ‘wp-content’ folder and the “wp-config-sample” file.

Remove unwanted WordPress folders and files off of your server

  1. Go back to your FTP session.
  2. Delete 2 folders ‘wp-admin’ and ‘wp-includes’ ONLY.
  3. Delete all files, except “wp-config.php” and any misc extra files you may have stored here like a sitemap or google txt file.
  4. Note: At this point, your Website will not work. No worries, it will be back online in a few minutes.
  5. You should now only see your “wp-content” folder and wp-config.php file listed.

Replace WordPress folders and files onto your server

  1. Now you want to upload the 2 WordPress folders that you saved from the WordPress Release Archive page. Only upload ‘wp-admin’ and ‘wp-includes’ folders and all of their contents.
  2. Upload all of the files. You don’t need wp-config-sample
  3. After the 2 folders and files have completely downloaded, go back to your login for your web site. ( You will see a screen that says “Database Update Required”. Click the “Update WordPress Database” button. (You are not really updating, but syncing it with the WordPress version you just installed.)

    Update wordpress version with database
  4. After its complete, click the “Continue” button and you’re good to go!
  5. Your Website should be back up and running. You can confirm your WordPress version by going to your Dashboard main page.