How to Downgrade WordPress – Step by step

Are you experiencing issues with plugins, themes, or outdated PHP versions, if yes, downgrading WordPress can be a temporary troubleshooting measure.

In this guide, I will show you how to downgrade WordPress and resolve compatibility issues or other problems that may arise after an update.

Some options to downgrade your WordPress include doing a manual download with FTP or using a WP Downgrade plugin for a faster process.

Tip: Downgrading WordPress should only be used as a temporary solution. Make sure you’ve exhausted other troubleshooting methods before considering a downgrade.

Before we proceed I’d like to mention my experience;

After installing a couple of plugins for certain experiments and upgrading my WordPress to the 6.4.2 version, all of a sudden my website wouldn’t preview, it was simply blank.

Blank WP website

Of course, I deactivated and even uninstalled plugins and theme and all but nothing worked.

I followed the downgrade process and downgraded to version 6.4 and well, it’s working fine right now.

Why Downgrade WordPress?

There are several reasons why you might consider downgrading WordPress. Some common ones include:

Incompatible Updates

One of the main reasons for downgrading WordPress is experiencing compatibility issues after a WordPress update.

Sometimes, updates include significant changes that may not be compatible with your current theme or plugins.

This may result in broken functionality, layout issues, and website crashes.

In such cases, downgrading to a previous version can help you maintain a stable and functioning website.

Abandoned Plugins or Themes

Sometimes, you may be using a plugin or theme that has been abandoned by its author or is no longer being regularly updated.

Without regular updates, plugins or themes can become vulnerable to security risks and compatibility issues.

If this is your case, downgrading to a previous version may be a temporary solution until you find a suitable replacement or an updated version.

Old PHP Version

Using an outdated version of PHP can also cause compatibility problems with the latest version of WordPress.

WordPress updates usually come with minimum PHP version requirements.

If your hosting environment is running an older version of PHP, it may not support the latest WordPress features and functionalities.

Downgrading WordPress can be a workaround until you can update your PHP version.

Before Downgrading WordPress

Before proceeding with the downgrade, there are a few important preparations you should make to ensure a smooth process.

1. Backup Your Site

Backing up your site is crucial before making any changes to your WordPress version.

This ensures that you have a copy of your site that can be restored if anything goes wrong during the downgrade process.

There are various backup plugins available that can help you create a full backup of your site, including the database and files.

Some popular ones include; BackupBuddy, All-in-One WP Migration, VaultPress (Jetpack Backup), BackWPup and WP Time Capsule.

Just go to your dashboard and navigate to Plugins > Add new then search for a backup plugin, install and activate it then backup your site.

Install backup plugin

You can also export your site by going to WordPress Dashboard > Tools > Export, then download your export file.

Export WP site
Download-WP-Export-File

2. Take Troubleshooting Steps

Before you consider downgrading your WordPress, it’s advisable to perform troubleshooting steps to identify the cause of the compatibility issues or problems you’re facing.

One of the steps you can take is deactivating all plugins and switching to a default WordPress theme like Twenty Twenty-Two or Twenty Twenty-Three.

This will help determine if a specific plugin or theme caused the issue and if it did, you can simply get rid of the culprit and then you don’t have to downgrade WordPress after all.

Deactivate Plugins and Switch to Default Theme

To deactivate all WordPress plugins;

Go to your WordPress dashboard and navigate to the Plugins section. Select all plugins and choose the Deactivate option from the Bulk Actions dropdown menu.

WordPress-select-all-plugins
Click-Deactivate-to-deactivate-all-plugins

To switch to the default theme;

Navigate to the Appearance section and choose the default theme to switch to.

Switch to default WordPress theme

This ensures that no active plugins or custom themes interfere with the downgrade process.

With these preparations before downgrading WordPress, you can minimize the risk of data loss and ensure a smooth transition to a previous version.

How to Downgrade WordPress Manually

If you prefer to perform a manual downgrade, follow the steps below:

Step 1: Deactivate Plugins and Theme
Start by following the steps in the previous section and deactivating all plugins and the current theme on your WordPress site.

This will ensure that there are no conflicts during the downgrade process.

Step 2: Download an older WordPress version
Visit the official WordPress repository (https://wordpress.org/download/releases/) and download your preferred older version of WordPress.

Make sure to choose a version that is compatible with your current setup.

Step 3: Transfer Files via SFTP
Access your website’s files through SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol) using an FTP client like FileZilla.

Back up your existing files and then replace them with the files from the downloaded older version of WordPress.

Take caution to only replace the necessary files and not the entire WordPress installation.

Step 3: Update the Database
After transferring the files, access your WordPress site and log into the admin dashboard.

WordPress may prompt you to update the database to match the version you downgraded to.

Follow the instructions provided to complete the database update.

Remember to always back up your site before making any changes, and proceed with caution to avoid any data loss.

How to downgrade WordPress Using a Plugin

In some cases, manually downgrading WordPress may seem challenging and time-consuming especially if you are not that tech savvy.

However, with the help of the WP Downgrade plugin, the process becomes much simpler and more user-friendly.

The WP Downgrade plugin allows you to effortlessly roll back to a previous version of WordPress, saving you time and effort.

To use the WP Downgrade plugin to downgrade your WordPress:

Step 1: Install and activate the plugin

Start by installing and activating it on your WordPress site; Plugins > Add new > WP Downgrade.

Download WP downgrade plugin

Step 2: Select your downgrade version

Once your plugin is activated, navigate to the Settings and select the target version you want to downgrade to.

Go-to-WP-Downgrade-Settings

In the new window, you need to add the WordPress version you want to roll back to, you can follow the link to the WP repository to check out the old version and choose which one you want.

Add WP version to downgrade to

Step 3: Re-install old wordpress version

After selecting the target wordpress version, go to the Update Core by following the link, or clicking the Up/Downgrade Core.

Go to Update Core to downgrade

Click the Re-install Now button and the plugin will take care of all the necessary steps to roll back your WordPress installation to the selected version, while preserving your website data.

Reinstall old WP version

After the reinstallation, you will be redirected to a welcome screen, and you can go ahead and check out the Dashboard.

WordPress 6.4 welcome screen
Go to WP 6.4 Dashboard

Tip: Remember that downgrading should be a temporary solution, and it’s important to regularly update your plugins and themes to ensure compatibility with the latest version of WordPress.

Rolling Back Plugins and Themes

There are cases where site issues are caused by incompatible plugins or themes, you may need to roll back to a previous plugin or theme version to solve these.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to roll back plugins and themes:

Rolling Back Incompatible Plugins:

  1. Check if previous versions of the plugin are available for download.

    You can do this by going to the Plugins page in the WordPress directory, searching for your plugin and downloading the older version.
  2. Uninstall the current version of the plugin from your WordPress dashboard.
  3. Install the compatible version by uploading the plugin’s zip file through the WordPress dashboard.
  4. Activate the compatible version of the plugin and test your website to ensure compatibility.

Rolling Back Incompatible Themes:

When facing issues with incompatible themes, you’ll need to locate and install a previous version that is compatible with your website.

Follow these steps:

  1. Contact the theme developer to inquire about previous versions of the theme.
  2. If the developer provides a compatible version, download it to your computer.
  3. From your WordPress dashboard, go to Appearance > Themes > Add New, then Upload Theme.
  4. Select the compatible theme file from your computer and click on Install Now.
  5. Activate the compatible version of the theme and test your website to ensure compatibility.

Also Read: How to Edit Footer Copyright Credits in Astra WordPress Theme

Troubleshooting and Alternative Solutions

During the process of downgrading WordPress, you may encounter various issues that can hinder your progress.

It’s important to be prepared for these challenges and have alternative solutions at your disposal.

Let’s explore some common troubleshooting steps and alternative solutions:

Troubleshooting Issues

One common issue that users may face is the “Internal Server Error” or the infamous “White Screen of Death.”

These errors can be frustrating but can often be resolved by following some troubleshooting steps.

First, check if the issue persists after deactivating all plugins and switching to a default theme.

This will help identify if the problem is caused by a specific plugin or theme.

If the error is resolved after deactivation, gradually reactivate each plugin and theme until you identify the cause.

Alternative Solutions

If troubleshooting doesn’t resolve the issue or if you are unable to downgrade WordPress successfully, there are alternative solutions to consider.

One option is to seek alternative plugins or themes that are compatible with the current version of WordPress.

You can explore the WordPress plugin repository or theme marketplaces to find suitable alternatives.

Additionally, ensure that your existing plugins and themes are up to date with the latest versions.

Updates often include bug fixes and improvements that can enhance compatibility with the latest version of WordPress.

FAQ

What should I do if I encounter issues during the downgrade process?

If you encounter issues during the downgrade process, you can try troubleshooting steps such as:
-seeking alternative solutions
-updating your plugins and themes to ensure compatibility with the latest version of WordPress
-consulting with professionals for assistance.

Is it safe to downgrade WordPress?

Downgrading should be approached with caution.

It might be necessary in certain situations, but it can also pose security risks as older versions may lack the latest patches.

Always back up your site before attempting a downgrade.

Can I prevent automatic updates after downgrading?

Yes, you can add a line to your wp-config.php file to disable automatic updates.

Define WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE as false to prevent WordPress from automatically updating to the latest version.

Is downgrading a common practice in WordPress?

While it’s not common practice, some users may need to downgrade for specific reasons.

It’s generally advised to stay updated for security reasons, and troubleshooting issues is often preferred over downgrading.

Conclusion

Downgrading WordPress can be a helpful troubleshooting measure when facing compatibility issues or other problems after an update.

However, it is important to remember that downgrading should only be a temporary solution and not a permanent fix.

Before attempting to downgrade, take the necessary precautions like backing up and be sure to try other troubleshooting methods before proceeding with the downgrade.

If you find yourself in a situation where downgrading is necessary, you have two options: manual downgrade or using a WP Downgrade plugin.

The manual method involves some technicalities while the plugin simplifies the process.

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Grace
Grace
Grace is an Editor at GoTechUG and she has written many articles about website design and social media. She has experience in IT and loves to tinker with anything to do with computers. In her spare time, she loves music, movies, reading books, and learning Spanish.

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