Think Twice Before You Upgrade That WordPress Plugin

Have you ever upgraded a WordPress plugin only to find that your site is broken, throwing an error, and you can no longer access your dashboard? The ease of upgrading WordPress plugins through the dashboard can get you into some hot water if you’re not careful. Today we’re going to take a look at some tips and basic best practices for safely upgrading WordPress plugins.

How to Undo an Upgrade

If you upgraded a plugin and for some reason it’s not compatible with your version of WordPress, theme or other plugins, you may get an ugly error that completely takes your site down. If you can no longer access your dashboard to disable the plugin you upgraded, you’re going to need to go into your plugins directory via FTP. Navigate to the plugin’s folder and delete it. That should bring your dashboard back up.

If you want to revert back to the previous version you had, you’ll need to download it from the repository. Go to the plugin’s page. There’s a blue box in the sidebar that says FYI and it has a link to “Other Versions.” Find the version you were using previously and upload that folder to your plugin’s directory. You should be back in business with the version you had before upgrading. Do some more research to determine the source of incompatibility or wait for a more stable release.

Do your homework before upgrading a plugin

There are a few things you’ll always want to check before clicking that “upgrade automatically” button. When you receive notice that there’s an upgrade for one of your plugins, make sure to click “View version details” before upgrading. There may be a warning in there about compatibility or requirements. Have a quick look at the changelog to see what’s new.

Click through to the plugin’s homepage on WordPress.org and check to see if other users have marked that the plugin works with your version of WordPress. If you see that many people have marked it as broken, consider waiting on your upgrade.

These tips are are especially important if you’re upgrading a big plugin such as BuddyPress, a shopping cart, forums, or anything that provides some critical functionality to your site. Google the new version of the plugin in question. If your search turns up tons of support requests and forum posts, then it’s possible that the upgrade may have some issues. If your plugin has a dedicated support forum, make a quick visit to see what others are saying about the upgrade.

Not sure whether to upgrade?

It takes just a couple minutes to make these checks. If you’re still uncertain, play it safe and give it a week or two to let others test the latest version. You can always jump in later when it looks stable.