How to downgrade WordPress

It is possible to downgrade WordPress and revert back to using a previous version of the system on your website. See how to restore a previous version and why it's better not to

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In case of problems, you can try to revert the version.

Sometimes the latest version of software isn't exactly the best. While one of the most essential security tips for any software is always to keep it up to date, this is not always the best solution to your problem. We cannot fail to mention, for example, the many times that a Windows update simply made the computer stop working or, with the release of something new and revolutionary like Windows 365, have some serious security breach.

And WordPress is no different. Sometimes the system may update and not be compatible with some essential plugin on your site, forcing you to choose another plugin or go back to the WordPress version. And if in case, you choose to revert the WordPress plugin version to a previous version, let's talk about how to do it. Of course, before any procedure, it is important to back up your website.

Learn how to back up your website safely.

What does it mean to downgrade WordPress?

Downgrading WordPress means going back to an older version of the WordPress core files. WordPress releases new updates and patches regularly to fix bugs, vulnerabilities and add new functionality. Being open source software, keeping your WordPress up to date is a necessity and a constant concern. You can check the list of all what's new from the latest versions directly in the WordPress release file.

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When should I downgrade WordPress?

You should downgrade WordPress to a previous version if you have a conflict with a plugin or theme. In general, downgrading to an older version is not recommended as this may expose your site to known vulnerabilities that have been fixed with the latest version of your WordPress core files. However, some plugins or themes may not be 100% compatible with the new version (yet).

It's important to stay informed of WordPress updates and fixes if you choose to downgrade, so you can update it as soon as it's compatible with your plugin or theme. When this happens, you may want to consider temporarily downgrading WordPress to an earlier version.

It is in no way recommended to keep your WordPress, theme or plugins out of date because it is "working", because the work you will have to update things will be much less than the work you will have to fix the problems that can happen if the system becomes outdated.

Do you have an alternative to downgrade?

The most common reason someone decides to roll back is when the latest version breaks something. However, this can be avoided. First, make sure your automatic updates are turned off. Create a clone of your website and upload it to a subdomain. This can be used as a test environment.

So when a new version of WordPress is released, you can use that clone to install the latest version. And if everything works perfectly, you can let the update happen on your website. If it doesn't go well, you can try to solve the problem in the test environment, where it won't mess anything up. This saves you from having to go through the entire downgrade process.

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You can also revert plugins and themes

It's possible to assume that a major update has broken a feature on your site, but it's much more likely that this is because of a plugin or theme. You can use another plugin to revert plugins and themes to a specific version. In fact, if you're using an older version of WordPress, you might actually need to do this if you want a particular plugin to work.

Again, this is not recommended. Just like a WordPress version, this will make your website less secure. An older version of a plugin or theme will do the same thing. And it can be even more dangerous.

You may need to downgrade your PHP version?

Depending on how long you decide to go back with your version selection, you may need to change your current PHP version. Most web hosts will have their server installed with the latest version of PHP, but they are not retroactive. Be sure to check which version of PHP is compatible with your desired version of WordPress.

This will definitely affect your plugins and themes. That's why you may also need to reverse them. If you don't, there's a strong possibility that nothing will work.

Learn how to update your WordPress site's PHP

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How to downgrade WordPress

There are two main ways to downgrade WordPress to a previous version: manually and using a plugin. When downgrading, it is recommended to install the second most recent version of WordPress, as long as it works well with your themes and plugins.

If you were using a very old version of WordPress and are therefore downgrading it is not advisable to try to go back to the version you were on, as this can give problems for other plugins you may have on the site that have been updated recently , then you will have to downgrade not only your WordPress but each of the plugins that were updated together.

How to downgrade WordPress manually:

First of all, as we said above, is to backup your website! To downgrade WordPress manually:

  • Download the chosen version from the WordPress version file;
  • Access your website via FTP and download a backup copy of your website;
  • delete folders wp-admin e wp-includes. DO NOT DELETE WP-CONTENT;
  • Load the wp-admin and wp-includes folders for the version you just downloaded;

For a cleaner installation it is recommended that you also delete all WordPress files at the root level, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF WP-CONFIG.PHP. You can also consider disabling all plugins before downgrading.

How to download an older version of WordPress

To download an older version of WordPress, you will need to follow these steps:

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  • Visit the WordPress version archive;
  • Select and download the oldest WordPress version you were looking for;
  • How to downgrade WordPress with a plugin

To downgrade WordPress using a plugin it is necessary to first download it. There is a specific plugin for this that can help you with the task. If you don't have technical knowledge, the best thing to do is actually use the plugin. In your WordPress admin, hover over 'Plugins' and click 'Add New':

wordpress downgrade
WP downgrade

In the Target WordPress Version field, enter the version you want to downgrade to and click 'Save Changes' and when prompted click 'Update Core'. Please note that when downgrading from WordPress 5.5 to WordPress 5.4.2 using WP Downgrade, an extra step needs to be taken to make the older version fully active:

  • Mouse over 'Dashboard' and click 'Updates';
  • Click 'Reinstall Now';

Also see the Beginner's Guide to Strengthening WordPress Security

Restoring a previous backup may solve

The third method to downgrade WordPress to an older version is to restore a previous backup. This will only work if you have a backup of your website. If you're not sure how to do this, take a look at our guide on how to generate a full backup.

Before downgrading WordPress, you need to create a backup of your website. This way, you can restore this backup file when you need it. Our guide above shows you how to make a secure backup, and with all that done, you will now be on the previous version of WordPress and you can use your site normally, however it is always recommended that you immediately upgrade your WordPress version to WordPress. more current once the issue that prompted you to downgrade is resolved.

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Important: Some hosting services and servers can make daily backups of your website. Therefore, you have to take a good look at what you are restoring and what you can lose in this downgrade. Evaluate the work and see which option is best for you.

If you've been blocked from accessing your WordPress site, the manual method is best for you. It takes several steps and isn't as easy as the other methods, but if you're familiar with FTP and file uploading, you won't have a problem. On the other hand, the plugin method is the simplest way to downgrade WordPress. If you have access to your WordPress dashboard, just install the WP Downgrade plugin and revert back to a more stable version of WordPress.

We recommend an extreme measure of this only in cases where the site is not working at all. Other than that, anything else can be replaced or revised to keep your site up and running. Now, leave in the comments which downgrade method you think is safer. Did you manage to do with the above procedures? Contact us and take the opportunity to read more about WordPress on our website.

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Paulo Fabris is a journalist, writer, RPG player, gamer, cosplayer, nerd and fan of anime since the time of TV Manchete.