How to Avoid Common Pitfalls and Ensure a Smooth WordPress 3.1 Upgrade

Watching the tweets coming rolling in yesterday, I discovered that in the excitement of WordPress 3.1′s release, many users forgot some of the basics of upgrading WordPress. If you’ve gotten too used to the ease of that automatic upgrade button and have never experienced the old days of upgrading WordPress, then you may be shocked when the automatic upgrade seems to break your site. Let’s get back to the basics. Follow these steps to give yourself the best chance at a smooth upgrade.

Backup Your Database and Files

You’ll thank yourself later. Don’t go rogue and just click that automatic button because WordPress tells you to. It’s like playing Russian roulette if you don’t have a backup and don’t know how to troubleshoot an upgrade issue. Make sure you’ve got yourself covered with a complete backup. Try Snapshot Backup or XCloner if you need a plugin to do this for you.

Disable All of your Plugins

People seem to forget this one. Unless you want to risk the possibility of having PHP errors plastered across your screen when you try to view your site after the upgrade, I suggest that you disable your plugins, especially BuddyPress. You can bulk deactivate them all at once on the plugin’s management page. The reason behind this is because some plugins haven’t been updated to work with the newest version of WordPress and you may have a conflict on your hands.

Upgrade Automatically or Manually

The automatic update button will probably work for you, although it doesn’t work for everyone. If it doesn’t you can always manually upgrade, which is nearly just as easy.

A few common problems that plague WordPress upgrades:

Help! How do I delete this maintenance page?

If you tried to use the auto-upgrade and it failed and you had to resort to manual upgrade, your site may be replaced by a maintenance page. Don’t worry, all you have to do is delete the .maintenance file from your WordPress directory via FTP.

I just manually updated my files. How do I update the database?

Sometime a database upgrade may be necessary. If it is, WordPress will let you know. It will give you a link to /wp-admin/upgrade.php and you should click on it to complete your full upgrade process.

I still see the old version number in page footers. Did I do something wrong?

Probably you have some form of caching enabled. You’ll want to clear your cache so that the changes are visible.

Oh no! I can’t log in to my WordPress site!

More than likely all you need to do is clear the cookies in your browser.

I can’t see the new 3.1 admin bar.

If you are using an old theme that doesn’t have wp_footer() included, you will not be able to see the new admin bar. Another culprit could be the WPTouch plugin. There is a fix that requires you to edit theme files. Your other option is to wait until the WPTouch team updates the plugin.

If you’ve carefully done all of these things, then you’ll probably be saved from feeling like you’re going to pull out your hair. If you still have issues with your upgrade, restore your backup until you can get some answers in the forums or find professional help. Good luck and happy upgrading!

Comments (5)

  1. For backing up, I’d put in a plug for BackWPup.

    Some of the backup plugins I’ve seen require the selection of new database tables and files before backing them up. BackWPup settings use exclusions so new tables & files are backed up automatically, making it ideal for multi-site mode.

    I use it on a couple of MS installs, just remember to change the settings so it backs up to a folder outside of your web path.

  2. Hello! Thanks for the tips!! I have problems updating plugins all the time!! Always related to memory problems, i dont know if there’s wrong a configuration of the .htaccess (By the way, a post explaining all about .htaccess for a newby like me will be great !!) or is hosting memory problem. I have 1and1 Business package and i’m hosting 5 wordpress sites in the same package, is there any limitation on how many sites can i host? (1and1 support doesn’t answear this yet). Thanks!! and keep the excellent job you are doing!!!

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