Downgrading! Wait, what? … Downgrading?
Downgrading can feel like an odd concept, especially for new WordPress users who have been told to keep their WordPress site and all of its features as updated as possible. Not only their site, but they’re also encouraged to implement the latest version of PHP. However, keeping everything updated will not always serve your site and it’s important to know when downgrading is necessary.
A relevant quote: “Sometimes you need to take a step back in order to move forward.”
Downgrading refers to restoring your WordPress site back to a previous update or reversing part of your website back to a relevant update. Below, we’ll tell you all the ways to downgrade and when you should do it.
When You Should Consider Downgrading
Keeping your site updated with the latest version of WordPress and all of your features updates is an essential part of maintaining a functional and secure site. Therefore, you should never downgrade permanently, doing so is inviting unnecessary vulnerability to your site. Downgrading is a temporary situation to buy time to find a real solution.
Site Element vs WordPress Update Conflict
It’s common for one of your elements to stop working when installing the latest update. If that element is important for your users, then you may want to reverse your update to keep that element working and begin working on an update.
Plugin vs Plugin Conflict
When the update of one plugin or your theme has caused another plugin to malfunction. In this case you simply reverse the update of that problematic software and then begin on working on a fix.
Plugin vs PHP Version Conflict
Older themes or plugins may not be compatible with the latest PHP versions. If that plugin is essential to your site, here you will have to downgrade to the previous version of PHP. An easier solution here may be to install a plugin that is still being supported.
Essentially, downgrading is a temporary troubleshooting process. While downgrading you should be planning to re-upgrade your site as soon as possible. I would also recommend you try to downgrade that which takes less effort. I.e, downgrading one plugin is easier than downloading your entire WordPress version or PHP version.
3 Ways You Can Downgrade Your WordPress Site
- Manually Downgrading Your WordPress Version
This is only needed when the situation is serious and you’re unable to access the backend of your site.
Safety first, you’ll need to back up your site. Secondly, you’ll need to deactivate all of your plugins. Deactivating plugins is simple if you have access to your backend, simply click “deactivate” in the WordPress tab. If you don’t have access to your backend, you can manually deactivate plugins using Secure File Transfer Protocol and an FTP client such as FileZilla, CyberDuck or Forklift.
To begin downgrading you will have to download the version of WordPress you just left, hopefully this is the second most recent update from WordPress. All the files you need for past WordPress versions can be found in the WordPress archive.
Using your FTP client of choice, connect to your sites files, deleting your ‘wp-admin’ and ‘wp-includes’ directories.
Now, upload the files of the previous WordPrevious version you’d like to install (which you got from the WordPress archive). Except for ‘wp-content.’ Your FTP client will likely ask if you’d like to overwrite files, do so.
Access your websites backend, you’ll be asked to ‘Update WordPress Database,’ click on this and login to your site. You should now be using a previous version of WordPress.
After this, reactivate all of your plugins and disable automatic updates.
- Manually Downgrading A Plugin
This is similar to manually downgrading your WordPress version.
Firstly, you’ll need to download files of the previous version of the problematic plugin or theme. To do this you’ll need to find the plugin in the WordPress directory and click on ‘Advanced View,’ this is found at the bottom right in the profile section, see below:
Find the previous version you require and download it. To be safe, create a backup of your site as well.
Connect your site using your FTP client and navigate to wp-content>plugins. Rename the directory of the current version of your plugin and upload the files for the previous version of the plugin. All done, the previous version of your plugin should be restored.
- Downgrading a Plugin or Theme Using WP Rollback
This will save you a lot of time compared to manually downgrading.
Install WP Rollback or a similar downgrading plugin.
This will provide you with a “Rollback” option to click on next to all plugins or themes you’ve installed.
For plugins, you’ll be provided with the list of previous versions you can simply rollback to.
For themes, you’ll be provided with a set of target versions and downgrade to the one you’re looking for.
Avoiding Downgrading In the First Place
Obviously, downgrading isn’t ideal. It means you’re temporarily not making the most of what’s available to you. For a very short period your site isn’t as functional and secure as it could be. Downgrading is a reaction to a problem that’s necessary now that the problem has occurred—but the problem could’ve been avoided.
Downgrading is mostly needed for WordPress businesses or individual owners who don’t yet have development expertise. For the best businesses, downgrading isn’t an outdated solution, but it is a last resort after more efficient solutions have been exhausted. Ideally, you will have developers that are constantly maintaining all elements of your site to ensure that all elements and your WordPress version is up-to-date. This is otherwise known as WordPress DevOps.
Hiring WordPress developers or a DevOps team is a natural step WordPress entrepreneurs take whenever they’re growing their business and the amount of plugins they’re using is increasing, as well as the amount of traffic their website has. The most obvious sign you need to hire a DevOps team is when you’re spending too much time on maintenance of your WordPress site.
Entrusting the maintenance of your security to developers isn’t a decision you should make lightly. Many companies provide WordPress DevOps services, but it’s important you research any company you’re considering to ensure they’re reputable. Before hiring any WordPress developers, check the following:
- Their work portfolio of previous WordPress work
- Their years of industry experience
- How well they’re reviewed on and off-site (Google maps and Clutch.io
If you’re looking to hire expert WordPress developers one recommended choice is the WordPress DevOps team at CodeClouds. They’ve gained global respect for their services and have over a decades worth of industry experience, many of those years specializing in WordPress development. I recommend them because of their pricing packages, which are cost-effective even for smaller businesses. Keeping things cost-effective is one of the biggest challenges for WordPress users looking to grow while maintaining the technical side of their business.