Upgrade To WordPress 3.0 Manually And Successfully

6 essential steps to be followed for manually upgrading to WordPress 3.0 or any other version, the error free way

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WordPress 3.0 a.k.a ‘Thelonious’ was released yesterday with a huge bag of improvements like Custom post types, MU merge, menu editor, Twenty Ten theme, over 1200 bug fixes making it more stable, secure and faster than ever before. But, my upgrade attempt wasn’t quite smooth.

On an average, every 4 out o f 10 WordPress upgrades are not successful in the first attempt. This is not a official stats but is in accordance with what is observed on WordPress related forums. I ran into a problem while upgrading to 3.0 where my Admin Panel was not accessible at all and it barfed up a 404 error. My first thought was to re-install WordPress (I never followed the etiquette of disabling all plugins before the upgrade process), but I decided to play wiser this time. I disabled only those plugins that were active in frequent communication with the database like WP Super Cache, WP Database backup and some security plugins to save my efforts. Deleting cached pages from wp super cache did not help. Surprisingly, WP Security Scan plugin was causing all the mayhem!

In simple words, always follow these essential steps before any manual WordPress upgrade/re-install:

  • Like i said earlier, disable only those plugins that are active in frequent communication with the database like WP Super Cache, WP Database backup and security plugins. If you do not understand what this means, you should disable all plugins before the upgrade to be on a safer side
  • Login to your blog’s ftp server with your preferred FTP program
  • Overwrite all extracted files from the zipped WordPress file except for WP Content folder (It contains your blog’s themes and plugins which you don’t want to lose) and wp-config.php file
  • After the files have been overwritten, append /wp-admin/upgrade.php to your blog’s home url in the address bar and hit the enter key. This is to perform the final step in the WordPress upgrade process. So, you should be directed to the upgrade page which will look like this:
Click “Upgrade WordPress” and you are all done.

Update: I have noticed that on this version of WordPress, the links in admin panel are breaking down when a “certain number” of plugins are activated. If is the case for you then you should deactivate the unnecessary plugins and active only the important ones until a patch is available.

So, how has your WordPress installation experience been ever since you started using it?

  • Excellent manual tips, I myself usually do things manually or through SimpleScripts via my hosting provider. I almost never use WordPress automatic upgrade except for some point releases. Taking a backup of your SQL database is critical, but also backing up your local stored (themes/plugins…etc) are also a good idea.

    Even if you don’t have shell access to your account via your hosting provider, there usually is a way to download your site to make a backup.

    • Raj

      Hi Justin, thanks for reading this article. The backing up of wp-content folder is indeed helpful at times , especially for the theme and plugin settings.

  • Automatic updates have always gone well for me. However, I have never tried the manual method. It’s not my fault actually, I started using WordPress since version 2.7 when automatic upgrades started!
    I will keep this article bookmarked.
    Thanks for including Blogging With Success post. I’m glad that you found it useful.

    • Raj

      You’re welcome Ishan. You have a great blog. Keep writing such useful articles.

  • Thanks for sharing your experience, its always wise to back up database and other important files before an upgrade.

  • Thanks for the tips. I only saw a handful of folks having problems, so I will share this with them!

    • Raj

      You are welcome Ileane 🙂

  • Thanks a lot for all those tips. I’ll be upgrading the blog from the company where I work. Sadly their blog is still in 2.5.1 version of WordPress. I’ll be painful, I know so hahaha. I’m thinking about upgrading into a middle version, between the current version and the 3.0. What do you think? Thanks adain!

    • Raj

      Hi, Guilherme. You can easily and safely upgrade the wordpress application to any of the recent versions. The only condition being that the upgradation process will be in your control only if the blog is on a self hosted domain and like http://www.domain.com. Blogs hosted on WordPress.com are maintained automatically. If it’s a self hosted domain, you may follow the steps in the above post to carry out the upgradation.

      • Yes, I know. The blog is a self hosted blog. It’s not my blog I’m talking about. I’ve just started the upgrade and backed up the database. I’m sure your tips will be helpful! Thanks.

        • Worked like a charm! Fantastic! Great tutorial!! Not even one problem!


          • Kashif

            Happy to find these tips and even more happy to find discussion under this comment.
            Today, I am going to upgrade from 2.5.1 to latest version and was thinking that it’ll be painful. But after coming to this page, I am feeling that it would “Work like a charm!”:)

            Thanks Raj and GV,

  • Great tips,but i still working on it and hopefully it wil be okay later.

  • I’m still waiting to see what the major issues and bugs will be with “Thelonious” before upgrading to it. I’ve had too many bad surprises with previous updates that I think that I’ll do it after all is cleared. Thanks for the manual installation tips though.

    • Raj

      I agree with you. That would be wiser.

  • Hi Raj
    I’ve always upgraded using Cpanel and Fantastico but I have always wanted to do it manually… never quite had the bottle.
    This article may be just the thing to make me have a go!

  • I havent upgraded to 3.0 yet, fearing to face any issue with it. 🙁

  • Thank you so much you saved the day with this post!

  • Danang Sukma | Surabaya Web Design

    This first time im upgrade manually my wordpress. Thanks for your tips, that is save my day… ^^)

  • Raj

    @ Erin and Danang: You’re Welcome 🙂

  • Hey Thanks Raj,
    I’m not sure what’s happening but I can’t do an automatic upgrade for from 2.9 to 3.0

    Your tips work great!
    Btw, apart from /wp-content/ and wp-config.php, some people may also need to copy .htaccess in case that they did not install wordpress on the root of website.

    Thanks again, your tips save my time 🙂

    • 😀 Im glad that the manual upgrade worked out for you and i agree, backing up the .htaccess (the ones that are located within the ‘to be upgraded’ folders) must be backed up.

  • Blog Techno

    some of my plugin still not compatible with worddpress

  • hi Ray

    i hawe a free hosting service that i use and i cant upgrate from the wordpress upgrade system for i dont know reason

    so thnx for this help

    but all i want to know is if this method can punish all my posts or users????

  • Ed


    Just to come here to tell you that your instructions helped me a lot. WP’s instructions are comprehensive, but they might be too detailed.

    Thanks for the added human touch in the way of writing the instructions 😀

  • Thank you so much! Your instructions were perfect. I tried following the instructions on wordpress.org and almost overwrote my wp-contents folder. So lame.

    • Thanks Angie, i appreciate that 🙂 By the way, the entire artwork set on your website is very interesting. Keep up the coolness!