How to Downgrade WordPress Website to Older Version

Are you looking for the easiest way to downgrade your WordPress website but don’t find any solution for doing this? If you’re suffering from the same issue, then here we’re with an awesome blog post on downgrading WordPress to an older version.

Sometimes, during an update, we lose too many functions, or our theme or plugin isn’t compatible with the latest version. And if you want to downgrade your WordPress website, you can follow the methods we’re going to share in this article and easily downgrade it.

Before getting started on the methods for downgrading the website, let’s find out the reason why we’re downgrading from the latest version of WordPress to an older version.

So…

Why Do You Want to Downgrade WordPress?

Generally speaking, it’s always best to keep the WordPress website up-to-date because with every update of WordPress, it patches tons of well-known vulnerabilities from the older version, and it also supports more functions with more efficient coding.

But sometimes, we have to decide whether we should move on to an older version of WordPress or not. Let’s take the example of Gutenberg Editor. Mostly, we don’t like this update, and the classic editor will soon be deprecated.

So, whether it’s good to downgrade the WordPress version is totally up to you!

why do you want to downgrade wordpress?
Why Do You Want to Downgrade WordPress?

Additionally, older versions of WordPress are not actively maintained by WordPress developers, so they are more likely to contain well-known vulnerabilities and may conflict with third-party themes and plugins.

And if you recently moved to the latest version of WordPress and see any conflicts with the theme and plugin you’re using, then it’s a big issue and sometimes even breaks the site and makes it inaccessible. In this case, we all wanted to downgrade the WordPress website to the older version.

But trust me, downgrading your website is just a quick fix, and it’s not a reliable solution. You can downgrade your website for a few hours and nail down the root problem causing the issue. The issues can include troubleshooting the website by deactivating plugins, editing lines of bad code, and deactivating the theme you’re using on your website.

Once you figure out the root problem causing the issue and rectify it, you can update your WordPress site to the latest version.

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How to Downgrade WordPress

If you’ve made up your mind about downgrading the WordPress website for any reason, then you can use the methods I’m sharing below to downgrade it easily. It will only take a couple of minutes to downgrade the WordPress website.

And there are two ways through which you can downgrade your website;

  • Using WordPress Plugins and
  • Manually Downgrading WordPress

In this guide, I’ll share the steps to downgrade a WordPress website using both methods I shared above.

✍️ Author’s Note;

But before you downgrade your WordPress website, it is extremely important to back up your WordPress and other important files, including your database. The methods I’m going to share below are generally safe, but if you’re messing with the core files, especially when you don’t know what you’re doing, then anything can go wrong.

So it’s best to first take a backup of your website and then downgrade WordPress. To do this, first, I’m sharing the methods to back up your WordPress site completely without any hassle, then move towards downgrading it.

Steps to Backup WordPress Files Easily

The plugin I liked the most was “Updraft Plus.” It helps me to take a backup of my entire website easily, and it also facilitates me to send my website backup to third-party servers like Google Drive, Dropbox, etc, remotely. And as for me, I always use this plugin to keep a backup of my WordPress files to Google Drive with three days of backup rotation.

Therefore, I highly recommend installing this plugin on your website for taking complete backups. To do so, you simply need to install the updraft plugin from the WordPress repository by visiting the Plugins → Add New page.

Here you need to search for “Updraft” and then click on the “Install Now” button.

searching and installing the updraft plugin on my website
Searching and Installing the Updraft Plugin on my Website

Once the plugin is installed, simply click on the “Activate Now” button, and it’s activated.

After activating, it will take you to the updraft dashboard, where you can take a complete backup of your WordPress files and make changes to backup options.

taking website backup using updraft
Taking Website Backup using Updraft

Here on this page, you need to click the “Backup Now” button in the blue color. Once you click it, it will start the backup process. After the backup is completed, it will show the backup on the “Existing Backup” section with the backup date, items, and other options.

Now you need to download the backup to your local drive or send it to some remote server for safekeeping.

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As of now, we have discussed about taking the backup of WordPress before downgrading it. Now let’s continue to downgrade the version of the WordPress website without any hassle.

Now back to the steps of downgrading the WordPress website. To downgrade, there are two different ways;

  • Using a WordPress Plugin
  • Manually Downgrading WordPress

In this guide, we’ll discuss both of them – but first, let’s start with the plugin method. 

1. Using WordPress Plugin

Using a WordPress plugin for downgrading your website is one of the most convenient and easy way we recommend. Most webmasters use this method to downgrade their WordPress by using this method only. Plus, it’s much easier than manually replacing WordPress core files with the older version.

To downgrade your website using this method, you simply need to download the plugin on your website, select the WordPress version you want to downgrade to, and done!

Here’s the step-by-step guide on how to do so.

First of all, you need to download a plugin named “WP Downgrade” from the WordPress repository. It is a free plugin with more than 100,000+ active installations and 4.7-star ratings.

installing wp downgrade plugin
Installing WP Downgrade Plugin

And to download the plugin, you need to visit Plugins → Add New and search for the “WP Downgrade.” After you find this plugin, simply click on “Install Now” and then “Activate.”

Once the plugin is installed on your website, visit the plugin’s settings page and select the WordPress version you want to downgrade.

options in wp downgrade plugin
Options in WP Downgrade Plugin

On this page, you must enter the WordPress version you want to downgrade to in the box shown in the image above. You can also check the WP Releases page here to make sure about the WordPress versions.

As of writing this article, the latest version is 5.5.3. And we wanted to roll back to WordPress Version 5.5.1 to show the working of this plugin.

So we’ll enter 5.5.1 on the box that says “WordPress Target Version.”

downgrading wordpress version on my website
Downgrading WordPress Version on My Website

Once we hit the “Save Changes” button, it will show the plugin status is “Active” and the option to downgrade it from the “Update Core” options, which can be found on the Dashboard > Updates page.

Here you’ll get the option to “edit the download URL.” This option is convenient for people who want to get WordPress from another source.

re-install wordpress for downgrading it
Re-install WordPress for Downgrading it

When you click on the “Up-/Downgrade Core” button, it will redirect you to the “Update Core” page. Here, you have to click on the “Re-install Now” button to reinstall the WordPress version you set up on the “WP Downgrade” plugin.

Bingo! Now you’ve successfully downgraded your website to an older version.

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2. Manually Downgrading WordPress

Manually downgrading WordPress by replacing the core files is another method, but this is not the method I usually recommend to anyone. This method can go tricky if you’re messing with the core files, especially when you don’t know what you’re doing, and then anything can go wrong.

The first step towards manually downgrading your website is to log in to your cPanel and then go to File Manager. If you are not using cPanel, then you can also use FileZilla to access the File Manager of your website.

manually downgrading wordpress website
Manually Downgrading WordPress Website

Once you’re in the file manager, select all files except the “wp-content” folder and the “wp-config.php” file, and then delete them all.

When the files are deleted, you must upload the files of the older version.

For this, you can visit the WP Releases page and download the version you want to downgrade on. You’ll get the option to download from various branches or versions of WordPress and find the suitable one according to your needs.

selecting the wordpress version
Selecting the WordPress Version

Once you find the suitable WordPress version for downgrading your website, click on the “ZIP” option next to the version release date. 

For example, in the image above, I’m downgrading to WordPress version 5.5.1, so I’ll click on the “ZIP” option next to it, and it will automatically start downloading the WordPress file for me.

unzip the file and delete wp-content folder
Unzip the file and delete the wp-content folder

Once the file is downloaded, extract the files and then delete the “wp-content” folder from it. You’ll also need to make sure you delete this folder, or else the existing folder of your website where all the themes, plugins, and uploads are stored will be overwritten.

And then compress all the files and folders and upload them to your server using the cPanel or any FTP software.

upload the files & extract it
Upload the files & extract it

Once the zip file has been uploaded to your server, right-click on the file and then click on the “Extract” option. It will extract all the files in the website directory, and your website will start working again.

Bingo! You’ve successfully downgraded the wordpress version of your website.

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Do We Recommend Downgrading WordPress?

No, we don’t recommend downgrading the WordPress website permanently. And if you just migrated to the latest version of WordPress and feel your website is broken or some functions aren’t working properly, then we recommend troubleshooting it but not downgrading.

For troubleshooting, you can check the type of error you’re getting. Sometimes, the plugin shows the syntax error from which you can know which plugin or theme causes the issue and simply deactivates them or uses some alternate plugins. You can also ask for help on various forums or on the plugin/theme forum for help, and they’ll solve the issue for you.

But still, if you want to downgrade a WordPress website, be aware that you risk your website’s security to a variety of well-known vulnerabilities. It may also harm your website’s SEO if it gets hacked.

Wrapping Up!

We usually don’t recommend downgrading our website to an older version, as it makes your website vulnerable to hackers. But if you are experiencing some issues with your website and want to downgrade, we recommend using the WordPress plugin.

You can also downgrade your website manually – but it’s a time-consuming process and might be too complicated for people who are just starting with WordPress. I hope you liked this article on downgrading your website.

And if you liked this article, don’t forget to share it with your friends, family, and followers.

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Sunny Kumar

Sunny Kumar, Founder of TheWPX

Hola Amigos! I'm Sunny Kumar, founder of TheWPX. I started my journey in 2015, and since then, I've come a long way. And now, I'm helping new bloggers make their WordPress journey easy and effortless.