Learn WordPress

How to Update WordPress Manually via FTP

You’ve come a long way little blog package

WordPress has come a long way, I remember back on version 1.x dreading seeing that there had been a new version released. It would mean a whole afternoon had to be put aside and all distractions like family, tv and fun stuff had to be cancelled and preparations made for sacrificing a couple of calculators to the geek gods of code just so that your blog could be manually updated to run the latest version of WordPress.

Now though, you get a single click update. All you need (is love) is to click that ‘update now!’ button and watch as the WordPress magic struts its stuff and downloads the latest version, unzips it and replaces all your old dusty core files with bright, shiny new ones. It’ll even update your database to take account of the new structure….. that is, unless you have a crappy webhost!

Don’t believe the tripe!


Yak 1.0 Internet

It’s hard to believe but not everybody has the luxury of single click updates. Some unfortunate folks are presented with horrible errors when they try to update WordPress to the latest version automatically. Who are these people? do they live in Katmandu or high up on mountains in a Buddhist monasteries linked to the internet on wires made of yak fur?

Recommended reading: WordPress Plugins: Backing Up Your Site

Nope! they are people in high tech countries that are at the forefront of modern internet wizardry! USA, USA!

Some hosts will have you believe that it’s a security risk to use the automatic update in WordPress, they’ll tell you that it takes too much resources to download a less than 3MB file. They’ll tell you kittens will be harmed if you try to unzip files on-the-fly.

Pah and double pah! They’re just cheap and crappy web hosts.

What to do if automatic WordPress update wont work

Don’t worry if you’re one of those living in a monastery running yak 1.0 internet hosting. You can still go back to the good old days (yeah, right!) and update your WordPress manually via FTP.

It’s what the old-uns used to do back in the day when Twitter was  just a noise you made when you saw someones big bum when they bent down in front of you.

Here’s a video I made at the request of Ileane when her daughter experienced the horror of a non functioning automatic WordPress update. This is one of my best WordPress tutorials that will show you the process of manually updating to the latest version of the software for your blog via FTP.

Duration : 8 Minutes 10 Seconds
language : English (British actually!)
Subtitles : English (UK spelling)
Format : HD 720 (use fullscreen)

You can view the subtitles / closed captions by pressing play and then click the arrow on the video toolbar and choose CC

Some useful WordPress download links :

WordPress download page – Where to get the latest zip file
Filezilla FTP Client – The FTP client of choice for newbies and pros


I am the creator of the CommentLuv plugin and run the comluv.com website and I like to make things that make your blogging life easier.
I'm currently coding the new version of CommentLuv (Clicky here to see!)

54 Comments (click here to leave a comment)

  1. Dennis Edell

    Andy Bailey? A guest blogger? What the…..when did this start! LOL

    I got errors once with the one-click, that’s all I needed. Now it’s a simple email to my design partner. lol

    • aha yes! this may be the start of some new procrastination things to do instead of working! I can see it now, a few guest posts a week around the net and I will never have to work again. :-)

      • Dennis Edell

        I meant to add, it’s been so long since I’ve FTP’d anything, I dunno if I even remember how!

        Btw, I will be officially opening guest spots at my place soon. If you wish to jump in, I’d love to have ya, shoot me an email. ;-)

  2. Hi Ileane & Andy,

    Great video tutorial. I’m sure this is going to help out a lot of people. Using FTP can get people in a pickle sometimes. This may ease some of their anxiety in the process of upgrading WP.

    Cheers! ;-)

    • thanks Michele!
      FTP isn’t all that much to worry about, it’s just like opening a window on your pc and copying files from one side to the other.

  3. Hi Andy, I’ve used many CMS systems and wordpress is by far the most impressive! It’s easy to do update even when it’s not automatic. I think it’s like three clicks. I might look into doing this but seeing I “live” on my pc it’s normally easy to do when I get the update notices. With that said it would be beneficial for long periods of time away from the pc.

  4. Good post with great video . I am sure about one thing this video definitely could help for many people with good response . Beside that FTP is also good option for download WordPress.

    • Thanks Sam,
      FTP used to be the only way to do things, uploading / downloading / sideloading! it’s good to know this information for times when the automatic stuff doesn’t work.

  5. Good video, Andy. I liked it when WordPress created the one button update, as it made life so much easier. I haven’t experienced any problems with using it, but I am always wary when I do click that button.

    I always have a copy of WordPress running on my local system for development purposes. I usually perform a manual update on that blog, and it isn’t difficult. If something does go wrong, I don’t have to fret because it is only a local, development copy.

    • I have a local copy of all my sites too, it’s why I haven’t updated comluv.com yet , the local copy went doolally when I tried to update! lol, I’ll leave it alone for now.

  6. My first step was to learn SEO. It took one year for slow learner for me.Now I have jumped in the field of web development to do my on site SEO work and also to develop new website. Doing work trough ftp is really an advance increase in my knowledge.

  7. I can’t believe you pronounced Kathmandu in your post (though you spelled it Katmandu, and I don’t know if it means something different) and how sweet fun to imagine the internet on wires made of yak fur!

    Have you been to Nepal that ranges from hot Terai up to the Himalayan and Kathmandu at the center? It would be a great pleasure to welcome you here!

    When we are using Godaddy and Hostgator, its hard to believe that somebody still restrict you from auto update of WordPress. Thanks for the video and glad to see you guest posting in Ileane’s blog! Great!

    • haha, sorry for spelling it wrongly!
      I know! it’s amazing that nowadays there are still hosts that wont work with autoupdate.
      thanks for commenting!

  8. Cannot believe if there is still this kind of issue. I always think that the one-click WordPress update can apply anywhere and anytime without some “horror” but I seems I wrong. There is still some web hosting provider prevents us to do that easy single click WordPress update and we need to do the manual (FTP) way.

    • yes it’s unbelievable isn’t it? I think that hosts that have restrictions on this kind of thing are getting rarer all the time.
      Most hosts will have a special option for wordpress hosting now but knowing how to FTP is a useful skill.

      thanks for coming by!

  9. I just have one thing to say. Once you learn how to FTP you will never forget. It’s a neat parlor trick too for all your friends that only know how to post status updates on Facebook… :)

  10. It’s easy to remember because the process is very similar to WordPress manual install. And who said Monks are low on tech ?

  11. I use Filezilla for all my FTP needs it’s easy and painless, just like the rest of my life :)
    Seriously though Filezilla is great for sending large photo files to my printers, far better that the old ROES system they used to use. I also use it to upload wordpress, it’s not failed yet.

  12. Hey Andy
    I have jsut know that updating using FTP for wordpress can be done. I usualy update automatically. I hope nothing error when I update it using FTP.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • As long as your site isn’t too busy and you have a decent connection to your server you should be ok. There was a time when FTP was the ONLY way you could update!

  13. Great tutorial and it is really simple, I just having some problems with the wp-db-backup plugin after the database backup is done, it will not download or send it to the email address. Now I am trying the last option to save it the WordPress folder, Hope it works!

  14. I’m glad I have found some free tutorials with clear video in your post. Now, I can do the procedure step by step and hassle free. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and expertise on updating WordPress manually via FTP.

  15. Great tutorial along with a simple video. Kudos to Andy for this informative article. For those who are quite new in using FTP softwares, make sure that you always back-up your files before doing anything! Safety first!

  16. Why you don’t using the automatic features that already integrated on WordPress to update your WordPress ?

  17. It is not easy to update blog manually and without any information you need not to do.
    Many time i update clients blog manually and have to say that they kill most of my time and always the work is delayed by this.

  18. It’s an ease apprehended video tutorial. Simple catching to understand. Thanks blog wittier, Andy. Also thanks for exposing this information to others because this information will be helpful for lot of guys . We are waiting for your new version on CommentLuv coding.

  19. One of the many reasons why you should update your WordPress is to for security reasons. It’s ironic why some web hosting services will tell you updating it will harm your site. Good thing there’s a workaround. There’s always a workaround! Appreciate the info. Thanks!

  20. Danny

    This post is from April 20th of 2011.
    Surely there are no hosts that don’t allow for automatic update anymore by now….right?
    What a horrible idea, it’s like walking all your life and then forgetting how and then you have to crawl again.

    Nothing wrong with knowing how to use an ftp.
    I can remember the days that me and my friends (mostly my friends) try to steal some server space of companies that had no clue what they were doing. To use it to exchange files with one another. Back in the day that it didn’t get much better than a divx rip.

  21. Hi Andy. These are really nice tips but nowadays all the web hosting service providers provide the facility to make it online; FTP could be really useful for people who edit their files now and then.


  1. [...] on your blog, the social media issues of the day, the ebook you’re about to release, or answer your readers’ top questions about your niche. That personal touch is a powerful way of deepening your connection with your [...]