Upgrading a Wordpress Installation

Wordpress is one of the most, if not the most, popular blogging scripts in use on the web today. A lot of blogs that you see today use Wordpress as the driving force behind them. Wordpress is a simple, yet feature rich blogging script. As with any script, keeping Wordpress up-to-date should be of your utmost concern. Because if you run an outdated version of Wordpress, then you are opening a doorway for hackers and other malicious users to gain access to your account and your blog. When a new version of Wordpress is released, 9 times out of 10 this is because a security flaw was found in the previous version of Wordpress. The Wordpress development team works quickly to address this flaw, but the only thing they can do is patch the flaw in the source code and release a new version of Wordpress. It is up to you as an end-user to actually upgrade to that updated version.

This guide aims to help you upgrade your Wordpress installation.

Download a backup of your account

It is always a good idea to have a backup copy of your website for any reason, just in case something ever does happen to your account. I would recommend downloading a backup of your website prior to upgrading your Wordpress installation so that you will have something to fall back to should something bad happen during the upgrade. For instructions on downloading an already generated backup of your account, see our guide for instructions.

Fantastico Alert

If you installed Wordpress through Fantastico then you do not need to follow the instructions in this guide. If you installed Wordpress through Fantastico then you need to log into your control panel and click the Fantastico icon. You then need to click the Wordpress link on the left and upgrade the Wordpress install from that interface.

This guide is meant for users who have manually installed Wordpress on their accounts.

While it is true that some Wordpress updates may include very minor security updates, you should treat any security problem as if it is a major threat. Just because a security flaw may not be deemed major does not mean that it does not warrant your attention.

To better illustrate some of the examples, I am going to give a legend shorts that explains the setup I am using in my example. These need to be changed to reflect your personal settings.

Site Name:http://yoursite.comYour website URL
Blog Path:/pressThe path added to your URL to access your blog
Account Username:yoursiteThe username of your account
Local Extraction Directory:c:\wordpress\wordpress-2.6.1The directory where you will extract the latest Zip file of Wordpress

This means that in order to access my blog, I would visit http://yoursite.com/press.

The wordpress installation I am dealing with is on my account in the directory /home/yoursite/public_html/press.

To begin you need to log into your Wordpress Admin Area and see if your Wordpress installation is up-to-date. Go to:


We do not have your Wordpress admin credentials on file.

If you do not know the correct admin username and password for your Wordpress install, we cannot retrieve this. We may be able to reset it, but we will have to have the username and password for your account or some way of verifying that you are the true owner of the account before we can reset it.

You will notice a section near the middle of the page that will tell you if you are running an outdated version of Wordpress:

Outdated version of Wordpress

Here you can see that I am running Wordpress version 2.5.1. The latest version of Wordpress is 2.6.1. I need to upgrade. You can click the Update link or you can visit http://wordpress.org/download to download the latest version.

When you download the latest version of Wordpress, remember where you save it. You will want to extract the contents of the wordpress-2.6.1.zip file into a directory.

Now you want to start up your FTP program. I am using the FileZilla FTP client in my examples. You can use whatever FTP client you are comfortable using.

Once you have started your FTP program, connect to your account. The FTP program will have two sides, one is a local side that displays your local files, the files on your current computer. The other side is the remote side, it shows the files on your hosting account.

On the local side, navigate to the Local Extraction Directory where you extracted the wordpress-2.6.1.zip file, for me this is c:\wordpress\wordpress-2.6.1. Once there I will see another directory named wordpress. Double click on this directory to maneuver your way into this directory.

On the remote side you want to change to the directory that is hosting your Wordpress installation. For me this is /home/yoursite/public_html/press. After I connect via FTP, I want to double click on the public_html folder and then double click on the press folder.

Basically what you want to do is transfer all of the files from the local side to the remote side. Select all of the files on the local side. You can do this by single-clicking the top most file or directory in the local file listing side. Now hold down the Shift key and while you hold it down, us the arrow down key to highlight all of the files:

All local files selected

When you have all of the files highlighted, right-click on the local file listing side. This will bring up a menu. Click on Upload:

Upload all files

This will begin the process of uploading all of the files to your account. You will likely receive a popup window stating that a certain file already exists and ask you what you want to do. You want to overwrite the file and select Always use this action.

Always overwrite files

The upload may take a while to complete. When it has completed, there is still one more step to do. You need to upgrade the database driving your blog. To do this you append /wp-admin/upgrade.php. So in my example I would visit:


This will give you a link to click to upgrade your database. This should only take a few seconds to complete, but may take longer depending on how big your database is.

After that is complete, you should be done. Log back into your admin area and see if you are running the most up-to-date version of Wordpress:

Wordpress has been upgraded

Your Wordpress installation has now been successfully upgraded.