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How to Downgrade WordPress to Any Version

gretathemes profile image GretaThemes ・6 min read

The publication at GretaThemes.
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WordPress often releases new versions to update its features and increase user experience. However, after updating, not every user loves the new version so they want to return to the old one. For example, lately, the latest version 5.5 has launched with a lot of new features. After a short time, we found that some users tend to reset this as v5.5 causes a few issues for their sites. So, if you regret using a version of your WordPress, here is what you have to do to go back to any version before the update.

Why do You Want to Downgrade WordPress

There are some reasons for users to downgrade a WordPress version.

The first and most frequent reason is the conflict between plugins and the new WordPress version because plugins might use old functions and features that are not compatible with the current version of WordPress.

Another issue can be seen in WordPress themes you are using. This can be found in some premium themes on marketplaces like ThemeForest, which haven't been updated for a long time. Even with some free themes with no recent updates on wordpress.org, conflict with the new WordPress version still happens.

One more reason is that the PHP version you are using doesn't meet the requirement of the new WordPress version, so it causes problems. If this is your case, you should ask your hosting provider to upgrade PHP to the latest version.

The last thing is related to user experience. Many people may not need the new features of WordPress so they decide to use the old ones. The typical example is that many users didn't find Gutenberg easy to use or suitable for their demand so they chose to stick with version 4.9 with the classic editor or disable Gutenberg. Some developers even created ClassicPress to serve those who love the classic editor. Here is another example: the WordPress 5.5 default's sitemaps may conflict with sitemaps created by SEO plugins that you are using. In this case, you can disable WordPress's core sitemaps using these methods.

In some cases, people are doubt to use the new WordPress version, especially some "big" version like 5.5, because they're afraid that it may contain bugs. These bugs can be found only after the release and then will be fixed in a short time, so users tend to wait until it's completely okay.

After understanding why people want to downgrade WordPress, we will move to the methods to do it. There are two options: downgrade your WordPress core manually with FTP or use a plugin

Before downgrading your site, remember to create a backup of your site in order to restore your data in case any problem happens during the process.

Manually Downgrade Your WordPress Version

This method requires you to use FTP (File Transfer Protocol) and a client such as FileZilla.

But first, you need to have a previous version of WordPress. Go here and download any version you need. For example, I will downgrade from WordPress 5.5 to WordPress 5.4.2 and choose the .zip file. You can choose tar.gz or IIS zip if you want. Don't forget to unzip it after downloading.

Choose a version of WordPress.

Now, follow these steps:

Step 1: Deactivating Your Plugins and Log Out of Your Site

It's not compulsory but we recommend that you should deactivate all of your plugins to avoid the conflict between plugins and the new WordPress version.

In your Dashboard, go to Plugins. And instead of deactivating one by one, you can save your time and effort by bulk action.

Choose the plugins to deactivate, or simply click (1) to select all plugins. Then, click (2), choose Deactivate (3), and finally Apply (4).

Deactive plugins on your WordPress site.

Next, log out of your WordPress site by hovering the Howdy, your user name, and click Log Out.

Log out of your website before you downgrade WordPress to any version.

Step 2: Delete the Current WordPress Core Files and Upload the New Ones

In this step, use an FPT client and access your site's files.

The first thing you have to do is deleting the current WordPress core files by removing the wp-admin and wp-includes folders. Remember to delete these two folders only and don't touch any other files if you don't want to lose data.

Downgrade to older version by deleting the current core files and upload new ones.

After that, upload the WordPress files (by dragging and dropping it to your site's file) that you downloaded and unzipped above except for the wp-content file. That file contains themes and plugins that you will reuse after downgrading. After each file has been transferred, it will ask if you want to overwrite files in your server, click Overwrite, and then OK.

Upload new WordPress version files to FTP client

Now, you have successfully deleted the current WordPress version and installed your needed version.

Step 3: Update Your WordPress Database

However, your WordPress site database may not be updated yet so you should log in to your site Dashboard again. In the Dashboard, you may see a message asking you to update your database, and click on the Update WordPress Database prompt. Yet in some cases, there may be no message like that.

Update your database after downgrading WordPress to any version.

Done, you have completed restoring your WordPress version to any version before using FTP. Now, you can activate your plugins again. However, you shouldn't bulk activate them because they may not be compatible with the new WordPress and cause some conflict. So, activating one by one can help you solve the potential problem easier.

Downgrade Your WordPress Version Using Plugin

Using FTP is quite difficult for beginners. It's even risky because you may accidentally delete some data. So, you can use a plugin that supports this feature. There are many plugins to do it and I choose WP Downgrade for this tutorial. With this plugin, you can upgrade or downgrade to any version of WordPress easily.

First, install and activate this plugin from your Dashboard > Plugin > Add new.

Use the WP Downgrade plugin to dowgrade WordPress to any version.

Then, head to the Settings of this plugin.

Configure the settings of the WP Downgrade plugin.

In the WordPress Target Version section, type your desired WordPress version, and click Save Changes.

Enter your desired WordPress version and save changes.

After that, go to Dashboard > Updates. You will see that the version you've installed is shown here as a new updated version. Click Update Now to finish downgrading and WordPress will run this process as a normal update.

Click Update Now to finish WordPress downgrading.

Now I've done with resetting my WordPress site to any previous version using WP Downgrade plugin.

Finish downgrading WordPress to version 5.4.1.

Final Thoughts

Not just with this latest WordPress 5.5, after each time the WordPress team releases a new version, the WordPress community becomes so exciting. Some may find the new version more advanced, more excellent, but some may still prefer the old and familiar ones. It's never difficult if you want to get back to the previous version, so, don't worry about that. Whenever you find that your current version of WordPress doesn't meet your expectations or cause any problems to your site, you can easily downgrade it to any versions.

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GretaThemes

@gretathemes

We are a team of WordPress developers and designers who want to make something valuable in life. WordPress comes to us as a hobby and then became our largest passion.

Discussion

markdown guide
 

If you want to do it by the WP CLI:
wp core update --version=5.4.2 --force