When WordPress Attacks! How To Manually Update

in WordPress Tutorials


You wake up after grabbing a cup of some freshly brewed coffee and jump onto your WordPress blog to find that a new update is available. Ready to keep up that early start to your day you navigate to the update menu and let WordPress do it’s thing. Unfortunately this is not your day, the WordPress update fails and now you aren’t sure what to do next.

The WordPress automatic update system is quite finicky, and believe it or not fails often. It happens to all WordPress blog owners eventually, and theres absolutely no reason to panic when it does.

If You Get Locked Out

In some rare cases if the update fails before it is finished or before it is done altering important source files the user can get locked out of their blog permanently. During a lockout when any page of the blog is loaded including admin pages a brief WordPress maintenance message is displayed:

Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance.
Check back in a minute.

This can be quite distressing and would definitely cause a serious panic for inexperienced users that had no idea what was going on. In order to regain access to a locked out WordPress blog users simply have to delete a maintenance file which lists the failed update attempt. Upon deleting the botched maintenance file WordPress will automatically create a new one.

The file is located in the root directory of the WordPress install. In order to delete the file proper FTP access is required.

The file that needs to be deleted is named “.maintenance” and appears exactly as described here (even with the period).

How To Update Manually

Of course you can’t update anything without the proper files so the first step is to download the latest WordPress zip version.

Completely unpack the zipped WordPress update in an easily accessible directory.

Using an FTP client or through your hosting account navigate to the root directory of your live WordPress install and delete the old “wp-includes” and “wp-admin” directories.

Upload the new “wp-includes” and “wp-admin” directories from the unpacked WordPress update to the root directory of your WordPress install.

IT IS VERY IMPORTANT YOU FOLLOW THE NEXT STEP EXACTLY. The “wp-content” folder holds very important data including theme files (and user edits), installed plugins, related info and file uploads. In relation to this tutorial however not following this upgrade process closely can result in errors with the database as well (all user created content including posts and comments); proceed with caution.

Upload the files from the new “wp-content” folder to the old “wp-content” folder one at a time. It is okay to overwrite the existing files but DO NOT delete the directory or files by themselves.

After the “wp-content” folder has been taken care of, upload all the remaining files (just the files, not the directories or folders) in the root directory of the WordPress update to the root directory of your blog.

Congratulations, your WordPress install is now up to date!

Giving Proper Access For WordPress Automatic Update

A majority of the time the automatic update feature in WordPress fails because it does not have the proper FTP permissions. In order to upload new files or alter any existing files any application hosted on a site must be given read and write access (also known as permissions).

The WordPress “/upgrade” directory must be given CHMOD directory permissions or the permission value equivalent of 777. This can be done using an FTP client (like FileZilla) or directly through your hosting account.

Next Time You’ll Be Prepared

At least now your blog is updated to the latest WordPress version, and you’re now ready for similar problems in the future.

If you really did get coffee before starting this tutorial it’s probably gone now, but you can grab another cup and get back to blogging!

Comments (5)

  • Comment by Ramona Bendtsen
    Ramona Bendtsen

    This is very interesting, You are a very skilled blogger. I’ve joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of your wonderful post. Also, I have shared your site in my social networks!

  • Comment by Pozycjonowanie

    Itâ€â„¢s actually a nice and useful piece of info. Iâ€â„¢m glad that you shared this helpful information with us. Please keep us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

  • Comment by Briley Kenney
    Briley Kenney

    Thanks for the comments guys! :)

    Tom you are correct all WordPress posts, comments and custom user created content IS stored in the database. To back up the database easily most users utilize WP plugins.

    The “wp-content” folder is where all file uploads, themes (and related edits) and plugins are stored.

    However for the purposes of this tutorial if the “wp-content” folder is not upgraded properly using the correct steps it CAN potentially affect the database and thus the user created content.

    I should have been more clear about this in the post I apologize. :)

  • Comment by Tom

    Thanks for the post, Briley. I’m glad that I know what to do now if it ever happens to me.

    I do have a question. You say that the wp-content folder holds all of the posts, comments, etc. I was under the impression that all of the post content, and comments are stored in the database… Just curious. Thanks!

  • Comment by Dave

    Great post as usual, to add depending on who you have your web hosting with, you can jump back to an earlier version of the site. The guys I’m with have it in the admin panel and you choose how far back to go in time. If the wordpress install is really broken that might also be a possible fix, you might lose a days blog posts but it gets the site back up and running fast.