How To,Wordpress Tips  

How to downgrade WordPress? Or install older WordPress on new version by keeping same settings?

Although having latest WordPress is good idea, but sometime you may wish to back to earlier version of WordPress installation after upgrading your WordPress. This can happen when your plugins do not work with new version of  WordPress and your site is depend to that plugins.

Good news is downgrading Latest Version of WordPress to a older version of WordPress  is very  easy task and that same as upgrading a WordPress to newer version but in reverse way.

Here I going to share my experience with you, how you can install older WordPress on newest version of WordPress. let say installing WordPress 3.0.0 on WordPress Version 3.2.1 without losing  current WordPress setting and data.  Save your time and avoid headache and enjoy reading this most wanted WordPress tip!

  1. First make full back up of your site.  Including your WordPress folders and database. You are reading this becase you missed to backup your WordPress before upgrade. Its good practice to backup your WordPress before upgrade or downgrade. You need to have access to your site control panel. Using a ftp program such as Filezilla you can make a copy of all files to your computer. By using a ftp program such as PhpMyAdmin you can  backup  your WordPress database. Also most control panel have a function that let you to backup everything just by one click.
  2. Deactivate all active plugins.  Login to WordPress admin area and go to plugins section. Select active plugins and deactivate them. Pretty easy. First time I was afraid to lose my plugins and WordPress settings if I downgrade My WordPress . I write down  all settings of my plugins. It took almost 2 hours.  Good news is you can skip this part! don’t worry you have a full backup. right? ( I hope so!). then you have a option to restore your site to previews state and make a snapshot of setting of bad plugins if needed. Its safe to deactivate your plugin before downgrade. but it can be just fine if you do not do.
  3. Delete wp-admin and wp-includes folder. ( make sure no plugin use this folders to save something).
    ( update: I know its little scary to delete these folders. but you can always get these folders back from your backup or you can get a copy of it be extracting latest WordPress zip file. Also  I found another easy and faster way. Some Ftp software such as filezilla allow you to drag and drop folder to another location. Simply create a folder with name  _oldWP and select wp-admin and wp-includes and drag it to _oldWP folder. This is much faster than deleting these folders and same time it allow you to have them at _oldWP folder)
  4. get the old version of wordpress that you need from release-archive
    at the writing time of this post, most people like to downgrade from wordpress Version 3.2.1 to wordpress Version 3.1.0! that is because most famous  plugin such as light box! are not ready to get power of latest WordPress yet.
  5. unzip your desired version of WordPress and overwrite all files to your website by using ftp program. ( this will copy wp-admin and wp-includes to your ftp as well)
  6. Go to your site admin area. This time you won’t see WordPress admin login page. Instead  you will notice a message that say wordpress need to upgrade current wordpress to new one!!. do not worry. It just shy to say it is actually downgrading but it know how to its job to downgrade your WordPress = )
  7. login to admin area again (and activate all plugins you need).
    WordPress even tell you what plugin were active before downgrade, So you can activate all of them in one step.

Everything will be fine and you can enjoy old WordPress installation on new on WordPress like you never did a upgrade.I tried to write as much as details I could.  Please share this post, If you found it useful.

If for any reason you are still afraid to do this scary task.  let me know to do it for you. You will need to let me know what is your WordPress admin login details and your ftp login details. Please note this service is not free and it will cost you  50$ that you can pay after successful downgrade using PayPal. I will back up your site first and I take a movie of downgrading process that will show you how I downgrade your site. So next time you can do it your self.

Do you need farther help on this topic? Contact me
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Andy is one of core WordPress WishList Member Developer. He is in love with WordPress and fun of turning new ideas to WordPress plugin or theme.

Add your comment

  1. Radislav
    February 16, 2011
    9:56 pm

    This is what I was looking for. Thx

  2. chrissabbatini
    March 22, 2011
    12:30 pm

    Man, this is the SECOND time your post has saved my ass. THANK YOU.

    WordPress 3.1 is incompatible especially with some Facebook integrating plugins, and completely screwed some of my websites.

    Following these instructions, however, I went back to 3.0.5 without any issues and now everything works again.

    Now, to figure out exactly what’s incompatible and get RID OF THAT S*!%.

    Thanks again!

  3. Steve
    April 26, 2011
    11:40 pm

    Thanks, worked a treat. :)

  4. JJ
    April 27, 2011
    2:51 am


    How to install a wordpress older version the very first time to a new domain name. No data yet.


  5. Hamza Younas
    April 30, 2011
    7:58 pm

    great tutorial i was looking for this

  6. Lena
    August 3, 2011
    8:57 pm

    ok i deleted the wp-includes and the wp-admin folders, now when i open the old version of wordpress are those the only 2 folders that I replace on the ftp?

    Im downgrading because wp 3.2.1 made my lightbox stop working. im scared todo this because i dont want to ruin the whole site :-(

  7. Andy
    August 3, 2011
    9:39 pm

    @Lenea ,
    First make sure you have a backup or copy of your wp-config file which is at root of your wp installation folder. You should not delete wp-config.php file and wp-content folder. Then You need to extract and copy old version of wp-admin and wp-includes folders plus all other files except wp-content folder to your ftp at same place.that’s all

  8. Gregor
    August 9, 2011
    2:42 pm

    This has saved me lots of frustration. I had numerous issues with WP 3.2.1 and have just downgraded to 3.1.4. I referred to this page many times over the past few days.

    Many Thanks.

  9. Muse
    December 16, 2011
    5:27 pm

    Great it worked for Me . Awesome ! since the new word-press version 3.3 disabled my edition on posts View . It left me with HTML only.
    I needed to go back 2.2.1

  10. Josh
    January 4, 2012
    1:31 am

    You saved me! I have my final meeting with my first client ever. I didn’t see anything affecting what I had in the changes documentation, so as a noob, I didn’t back the site up.

    My site ended up breaking horribly in internet explorer, and you just saved my ass!

  11. Antoine van DInter
    January 4, 2012
    9:05 am

    You have saved my blog and about 4 years of work! Thanx to your detailed description I have everything back and it’s up and running again! Great post, many thanx! I first had a blank page, but renaming the plugins folder to plugins-old and uploading the plugins folder from WP did the trick.

  12. Brian
    January 16, 2012
    2:22 am

    It worked. A few things to point out..

    Using FTP:

    Delete: wp-admin and wp-includes folders.
    Do NOT delete: wp-config.php file and wp-content folder (I almost did)

    After you do that, then just drag over all the files and you’re set. Also remember to delete wp-config-sample.php (in the wordpress package) as you don’t need it.

    Thank you! :)

  13. Brian
    January 16, 2012
    2:23 am

    Also this is great! If you use one-click install, but your hosting company doesn’t have older versions.. Do the 1 click install for version 3.3 or newer, then downgrade using this method, I used 3.2x.. :) Super easy took 3-5 min, most of the time was spending transferring files.

  14. Simon
    March 19, 2012
    12:34 pm

    Thanks for GREAT GREAT POST. You saved me a lot of time and headache! Thanks so much!!!

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