How to Downgrade WordPress: Effective Methods for Reverting to a Previous Version
Using the latest WordPress version is considered one of the best security practices for protecting your website. Each update comes with new features and security patches, ensuring your WordPress website is up to the latest security standards and performs optimally.
However, sometimes older WordPress core, plugins, and theme versions can work better for your needs. As WordPress upgrades aren’t permanent, you can revert them to the older versions if needed.
Keep reading as we go through different methods to revert the WordPress core, plugins, and themes to their previous versions.
Why Downgrade to a Previous Version
Downgrading WordPress is one of the ways to solve some technical issues. Let’s look at the most common cases that call for a WordPress downgrade.
Your WordPress Website Is Using an Old PHP Version
As of writing this article, the latest PHP version supported by WordPress is 8.0. Meanwhile, the oldest PHP version that WordPress recommends is 7.4.
If you can’t upgrade your PHP to at least version 7.4, reverting to the previous WordPress version can temporarily solve the compatibility issue until you find a better solution.
Compatibility Issues With Your Theme or Plugins
Major changes implemented by the latest WordPress update might cause compatibility issues with your plugin or theme. Check the plugin or theme’s official page to see if it supports your current WordPress version.
Downgrading to a specified WordPress release that your plugin or theme supports can keep it functional. Once the developers update their software’s code, you can re-upgrade your WordPress core.
Your WordPress Website Is Using Outdated Themes or Plugins
Some developers abandon their plugins and themes, meaning their code isn’t updated to work with the latest version of WordPress.
For plugins and themes listed on the WordPress official directory, the last updated date can be seen on their official page. A warning message usually appears above the banner if the plugin or theme hasn’t been updated for a long time.
If the problematic plugin or theme is essential to your site, you can downgrade the WordPress core to meet its compatibility standards.
We recommend looking for alternative software with frequent updates, as outdated plugins and themes tend to have many security vulnerabilities.
Downgrade WordPress Version Manually
Downgrading WordPress manually is the best solution if you can’t access your WordPress dashboard.
However, this method requires setting up an FTP client like FileZilla and the basic WordPress file structure knowledge.
Important! Backup your WordPress site before making any major changes. This way, you don’t lose important data if you encounter website-breaking errors during the downgrade process.
Here’s how to downgrade WordPress to its previous version manually:
- Go to the WordPress Release Archive and download the ZIP file of the WordPress version that fits your needs.
- Connect to your server via an FTP client and access your root directory (public_html).
- Navigate to wp-content and rename the themes and plugins folders to “xthemes” and “xplugins”. Doing so will deactivate plugins and themes manually.
- Go back to your root directory and delete the wp-admin and wp-includes directories.
- Unzip the compressed file of the previous WordPress version you downloaded earlier and upload all the files except for the wp-content directory. Agree to overwrite files when asked.
- You should now be able to access your WordPress dashboard. Check if the WordPress site is running on your chosen version.
- Change the names of the plugins and themes directories to their original version via FTP. It doesn’t automatically re-activate all your plugins and themes, so you need to activate them one by one in WordPress.
- Disable automatic WordPress updates by editing the wp-config file, so your WordPress core doesn’t revert to the new version.
Downgrade Your WordPress Version Using a Plugin
This is a great way to downgrade WordPress versions for those who don’t want to use an FTP client and still have access to their WordPress dashboard.
Here’s how to roll back WordPress to a specific core version using the WP Downgrade plugin:
- Install and activate the WP Downgrade plugin.
- Go to Settings -> WP Downgrade and enter the version of WordPress you want to use into the WordPress Target Version textbox.
- Click Save Changes.
- Here’s what you see if the plugin recognizes the WP version you entered earlier. In this example, we’ll revert WordPress to the 5.9.3 version.
- Navigate to Dashboard -> Updates. WordPress should now list the 5.9.3 version as the target version for the core update. Select the Re-install version 5.9.3 button to begin the downgrade process.
- If the process is successful, you will see the welcome message from your chosen version of WordPress.
Downgrade WordPress Version by Restoring a Site Backup
Restoring your backup is another way of reverting WordPress to the previous version. The only catch is that you need the backup file from when your website was running on your desired version of WordPress.
If you haven’t installed a backup system yet, check if your hosting provider can generate automatic backups for you.
Hostinger includes a backup service at different intervals, depending on the hosting plan. Here are the steps to restore your backup via hPanel:
- Go to Files -> Backups from your hPanel dashboard.
- Click Select under the Generate new backup section to create a backup of your live site. This way, you don’t lose important WordPress files added after the last backup was created. The backup process may take up to an hour to complete.
- Pick a date from the dropdown menu and click Next Step.
- Check the box next to the files that belong to your domain, then click Restore files.
- Access your WordPress dashboard. Click Update WordPress Database if you see a popup page asking for your permission.
- Go to the Updates page to check if your site runs on an older version of WordPress.
Downgrade WordPress Plugins or Themes
If you want to install an older plugin or a theme version instead of downgrading the WordPress core, you can use WP Rollback to do the job. This method is ideal for reverting an individual plugin or theme to solve compatibility issues.
Here’s how to use the WP Rollback plugin for downgrading plugins or themes:
- Install and activate the WP Rollback plugin.
- If you go to Plugins -> Installed Plugins, you’ll notice that a Rollback button now exists under each plugin. Click on the one under the plugin you want to downgrade. For this tutorial, we’ll be downgrading the WooCommerce plugin.
- Pick the desired target version and click Rollback.
- To downgrade a specific WordPress theme, go to Appearance -> Themes and hover over the target plugin. Then, select Theme Details and choose the version you want to downgrade to.
Keep in mind that WP Rollback only works with themes and plugins listed on the WordPress official directory. For this reason, you might not see a rollback button next to premium plugins and themes.
Downgrading WordPress might not be a recommended practice due to security reasons. However, if the latest core update broke your site or one of your plugins or themes encounters compatibility issues, you can revert WordPress to an earlier version.
Let’s recap the downgrade methods we’ve gone through in this article:
- Manually downgrade WordPress using an FTP client.
- Install WP Downgrade to revert WordPress to the previous version.
- Restore a site backup.
- Install WP Rollback to downgrade specific themes and plugins.
If you still have questions about downgrading WordPress, leave us a comment below. Good luck!