How To Upgrade and Update WordPress A Simple Guide

So we have another WordPress Release 2.2.2 in such a short time, I’ve helped a few of my friends to set up WordPress blogs. They still aren’t very confident when upgrading or updating WordPress. I usually update as soon as the WordPress developers release a security fix. While there are Plugins that you can use to automatically download and update WordPress, but I prefer the manual route.

A list of Plugins that you can use to upgrade automatically.

  1. The InstantUpgrade
  2. WordPress Automatic Update

Here’s the simplest and safest manual route.

Backup your Database

The First rule, backup your WordPress Database even if you are using Automatic Update Plugins I recommend you to make a backup. If you find backing up the databases using phpMyAdmin too complicated a simpler solution is to install the excellent WordPress Database Plugin, not only can you download a copy of you database with a click you can also schedule it to send you a copy of the database by mail depending on the time frame you specify i.e. daily, weekly or monthly.

Download WordPress from

Always download the latest WordPress from the site. After you’ve download the zip file extract it to a folder (by default it extracts to a folder called WordPress). Login to your website using FTP and upload this folder to the root directory of your Website where your blog is installed (I assume that there is no other folder with the same name). Create a new folder called backup.

Important Note: Before we begin there are some files and folders you shouldn’t touch these are the wp-content folder and wp-config.php and .htaccess files in your root directory. Additionally you may have some non-WordPress related files like robots.txt, Sitemap.xml etc.

If you followed my instructions carefully You’ll see the following directory structure given in the screenshot below.

WordPress Update Backup 1

Move the folders called wp-admin and wp-includes from the root folder to the backup folder. Don’t do anything to the wp-content folder since this contains your themes and plugins and uploaded files. Also move all the WordPress related files from the root directory except wp-config.php and .htaccess (don’t move Non-WordPress related files that you may have example robots.txt, Sitemap.xml etc) Now the directory structure looks like this.

WordPress Update Backup 2
Next move all the folders wp-admin and wp-includes and files except the wp-content folder from your WordPress to the root folder.

WordPress Update Backup 3

Now go to your browser and type in thats it your done.

Check if everything is running fine. You can delete the WordPress and backup folder if all is well.

9 Responses

Thanks for this dude. Now i think i can upgrade to the latest wordpress. Call it laziness or unavailability of FTP at my office , or I was not that confident in updating myself . Now following these steps i will surely update it by today :D

Well, nice post out there. I’m sure it will help many who have recently shifted to wordpress and have never done any update.

@Arpit:Arrghh great! Now the whole world knows that i aint a geek..oh wait now thats a good thing right?

Thanks for this nice guide. I hate updating WordPress manually :) and I’ve never used an automatic plugin before.

upgraded … thanks to your post .. :)

Thanks for sharing!. Nice posting. That’s news WP version has been released. So this guide very usefull.

I was feeling like a daredevil so I used the automatic upgrade plugin! Worked like a charm :)

thanks for the great great

Hey -
Thanks for this. So I can totally skip wp-content? Why does the WordPress guide tell you to copy the contents of the folder over? Like you said, it’s plugins and themes and customizations. If you aren’t using one of the default themes that come with WordPress you wouldn’t even be using the themes folder. I agree with you, I just worry a little, and wonder why they would tell me to copy the contents on the wordpress site.