To downgrade your WordPress site means rolling back to an older version of your WordPress core files, this article will guide you through the entire process in detail so that your site works as it should.
Running the most recent version of WordPress core plugins and themes is one of the most important ways for maintaining your website. These updates include security patches that give protection against malware on your website and enhanced performance and functionality.
For this reason, it is not advisable to downgrade your WordPress or its components permanently. However, there are some conditions you may want to do so temporarily. The reasons might be
1. Plugin or Theme conflict: This happens when one of your site components does not support the latest version of the WordPress core. Then downgrading your installations will enable visitors to access features while you sought out a long-lasting solution.
If the conflict is between the plugins or themes then you will have to roll back to the older version of the themes and plugins causing the problem to get your site up and running.
2. PHP Compatibility: When the plugins or themes used are not compatible with the newer version of PHP. So to ensure full functionality of your site you may have to downgrade your PHP version whilst looking for an alternative.
One thing to bear in mind at all times is that downgrading a WordPress site is only a temporal troubleshooting process.
The process of downgrading a WordPress site depends on what the user wants to accomplish.
You may find the need to restore the previous version of your entire website or you may only need to revert a plugin or theme rather than the whole WordPress site.
With that being said there are many different ways of downgrading a WordPress site. They include:
Downgrading the WordPress site Manually
This method is mostly used when the resulting conflict does not allow you to have access to the backend of your website.
To do this the user should back up the entire website to be on a safer side after which you deactivate all the plugins.
Deactivating your plugins is quite easier if you have access to the back end of your site. You can then deactivate your plugins by clicking the check bar next to the plugins and clicking on the bulk “deactivate” button.
But if in the case you can’t access the back end of your website via your dashboard you can deactivate your plugins by using the Secure File Transfer Protocol(SFTP) in clients such as FileZilla.
After the deactivation of plugins, the next step to take is to install the newest version of WordPress. You can now have access to the files you want via the WordPress release archive. Then by using FTP in FileZilla or any other client-server access your site files and delete your WP admin and WP directories.
After this is done make sure you upload all the files from the WordPress version you want to install except for the WP Content Directory. Then after which you click on “overwrite” and then “ok” to confirm your actions.
Navigate to your WordPress back end where you will see a message request asking you to update your WordPress database. When this is done you will find out that you now have access to running the older version of the WordPress site.
You can also wish to disable automatic updates to prevent your site from installing new updates. When the issue is fixed you can return to the latest version of your WordPress via the updates screen on the dashboard.
Downgrading the WordPress site via Plugins
If in case the user finds it uncomfortable to use SFTP to downgrade your WordPress site then the need for plugin steps in.
The most popular plugin used for this is the WP Downgrade. You will have to install it after Backing up your site. Then you can access the plugin from the settings menu on the dashboard.
To carry on with the downgrade function you have to fill in the WordPress target versions that you want in the relevant field and click on “save changes”.
When this has been done simply head to the update screen you will that your target version has now been listed as the latest version of WordPress. Then click on “reinstall” to complete the downgrade.
Once it is done, WordPress will look as though it is running a normal update before you can now see a welcome message of your target version.
But if in the case you want to revert to the latest version of WordPress you have to go to settings and then WP Downgrade and repeat the same process above.
Restoring a Previous Backup To Undo Changes On the Site
This is another process a user can employ in downgrading a WordPress site. This entails restoring a backup from when your site was running an earlier version of WordPress.
Before you carry out this process you should have a reliable backup system. You also have to ensure that the site being restored is not missing any key content that has been recently added.
However, if your site is highly dynamic then this method isn’t recommended. But if in the case you choose to go on with this method it is important to note that the process depends on the system you used to create and store your files.
For example, when using Bluehost, the user can take advantage of the one-click restoration process. To do this log in to my Bluehost dashboard and click on “sites”. Then from the site menu choose the WordPress version you desire and navigate to the backup tab.
Bluehost also has avenues where a user can test the WordPress version on a staging site just by clicking on the restore drop-down menu options. To downgrade your live site to the version of WordPress in the backup file click on the live button from the options.
But to prevent accidental restorations you should add your website name in the relevant field and click on the “restore backups ” before downgrading your live site.
Although the restoration process may take a while once it is done you will find out that you now have access to your website’s backends.
Manually downgrading the themes and plugins
If in case you don’t wish to downgrade your WordPress core but only the plugins and themes you can do so by following similar steps in the first method above.
Firstly to do this you have to retrieve the older version of the plugin or theme you wish to downgrade. For plugins in the WordPress directory, you can see the older versions by clicking on the “advanced view” on the feature page.
Once on the page, simply head down to the bottom of the page and select the particular WordPress version you want and click on download. Remember to make a backup of your site in case something goes wrong after which you connect to your server using FTP and your preferred client.
There, navigate to the “wp-content” and then to plugins. Next, you need to remain a directory for the existing version of your plugin and then upload the folder for the prior version you wish to downgrade for.
This should be able to download the older version of the plugin needed plus you will be keeping the older version easily accessible so that you can be able to switch between themes.
Downgrading plugins and themes via WP Rollback
This is one of the easiest ways a user can easily downgrade his plugins or themes. This plugin is routinely updated and has an impressive five (5) star rating in the WordPress directory.
Once activated, simply navigate to the plugins menu on the dashboard and you can easily see a rollback option beside each available plugin on the site.
On clicking this option you will be redirected to a page where you choose your target version and then click on roll back to confirm these changes.
But if in case you want to roll back your themes, navigate to appearance and on themes from the dashboard menu. Click on the themes you wish to downgrade and at the bottom of the screen, you will see a rollback option.
Thereafter you will now be redirected to a page where you will select your target version and then click on roll back to confirm.
Reverting to an older version of PHP
This method is mostly used when the plugins and themes which are crucial for the performance and functionality of your website aren’t compatible with the newest version of your PHP.
For example, using Bluehost provides users with features that allow them to switch between different versions of PHP easily.
To do this simply click on sites and then select the one you wish to downgrade PHP for. Then from the tools tabs scroll to the PHP engine and use the modifier to make a choice on the version you want and click on “modify PHP version” to initiate the process.
But if in the case that you aren’t making use of Kinsta or Bluehost or that you need a much older version than the ones available on the PHP engine then the only option is to downgrade it via Command Line.
However, this case is risky and requires a high-level technicality so it is advisable to replace the problematic plugin or theme rather than downgrade the PHP version and troubleshoot and thereby causing more problems.
I believe that with this detailed article, you were able to downgrade your WordPress site and possibly troubleshoot your incompatibility issues after upgrade.
If your site crashes after upgrading your WordPress Core or a plugin, it’s most likely that a plugin activated on your site is not compatible or stable with the version, you should disable all pluginson your site one by one till you catch the offender.
You can then contact the plugin developer and present issues you faced, if they can’t fix it on time, look for alternative plugins in the WordPress Repository or in Themeforest.
Have any questions or suggestions on Downgrading your WordPress Site, Theme(s) or Plugin(s), ask us in the comments…