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Downgrade WordPress version

How to Downgrade Your WordPress Version and Revert Bad Updates 

Written By: author image Joella Dunn
author image Joella Dunn
Joella is a writer with years of experience in WordPress. At Duplicator, she specializes in site maintenance — from basic backups to large-scale migrations. Her ultimate goal is to make sure your WordPress website is safe and ready for growth.
     Reviewed By: John Turner
reviewer image John Turner
John Turner is the President of Duplicator. He has over 20+ years of business and development experience and his plugins have been downloaded over 25 million times.

Need to downgrade your WordPress version?

Staying up-to-date with the latest WordPress core version is crucial for security and performance. However, what happens when an update causes unexpected issues? You can easily roll back updates for WordPress, plugins, and themes whenever you need to. 

In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to downgrade WordPress versions!

Is It Possible to Downgrade Your WordPress Version?

Yes, it’s possible to downgrade your WordPress version. However, it’s generally not recommended due to potential compatibility issues and security vulnerabilities. It’s better to back up your site and proceed with caution, considering the potential risks involved.

Reasons to Downgrade Your WordPress Version

One of the most important WordPress maintenance tasks is updating the core software. This often comes with security enhancements, new features, bug fixes, and performance improvements.

If you want to keep your WordPress site running smoothly, you’ll need to update it as frequently as possible. However, you might update WordPress and then regret it. In that case, consider downgrading to an earlier release.

Sometimes, older versions of WordPress, plugins, or themes could be better suited for your current website. To see if you need to downgrade WordPress, let’s dive into some of the most common reasons why it might be necessary.

Compatibility Issues

After you update WordPress, you may notice that it broke a certain plugin or theme on your site. This happens when your plugins or themes are not compatible with the new version of WordPress.

To avoid these issues, check whether a new plugin or theme is compatible with the latest version of WordPress. This ensures you don’t install software that will cause problems on your site.

Plugin WordPress compatibility

However, if an update breaks current plugins or themes on your website, downgrading WordPress can remove the incompatibility. Your website will be functional until the plugin or theme developers catch the issue and release a compatible version.

Old PHP Version

PHP is the programming and scripting language that WordPress runs on. Like WordPress, PHP is consistently improved with new updates.

WordPress recommends that your web host supports at least PHP 7.4. Any previous versions could cause incompatibility issues.

Usually, a simple fix is to upgrade your PHP version. As an alternative, you can downgrade WordPress to a version that is compatible with your current PHP version. 

Outdated Themes or Plugins

Since WordPress is open source, any developer could create a new plugin or theme and upload it to the WordPress directory for public use. Sometimes, you’ll find a plugin that hasn’t been updated in a long time.

Outdated WordPress plugin

The original developer might have completely abandoned this project. Because of this, the software will become more and more outdated. As WordPress updates, the plugin or theme will be more incompatible.

To fix this problem, you can downgrade WordPress until the developers release a new update for this plugin or theme. Then, update WordPress again. 

If the software has been abandoned, look for alternative options. For help finding the best plugins and themes (with consistent updates), check out these guides:

26 Best WordPress Plugins For Any Type of Website

15 Best WordPress Themes to Build a Stunning Website in 2023

How to Downgrade Your WordPress Version

It’s important to note that downgrading WordPress versions shouldn’t be the first step to fixing a problem on your website. Before continuing, check out our comprehensive guide on common WordPress errors and how to fix them.

However, downgrading WordPress could be an effective way to troubleshoot plugin or theme conflicts. In general, it’s best to only downgrade WordPress versions temporarily while you fix the issue. Then, update your WordPress website again.

If you decide downgrading WordPress is your best option, we’ll show you exactly how to do it!

Method 1: Restore a Backup

The easiest way to downgrade WordPress core is to restore a backup that was made before the update. If you’ve been regularly creating backups, you can roll back your website to when it was running on a previous version of WordPress.

A WordPress backup plugin like Duplicator Pro can help you set up automatic backups so that you can always restore your site at any time. You’ll be able to go through your backup log, find a copy of your site before the update, and immediately restore it.

Duplicator Pro plugin

To restore a backup, open your WordPress admin dashboard and go to Duplicator Pro » Packages. Here, you’ll see a list of your manual and automatic backups:

Duplicator packages page

Using the arrow on the right-hand side, expand a package. You’ll see an overview of the backup, as well as what WordPress version your site was using at the time:

Duplicator backup WordPress version

Find the most recent backup with the previous WordPress version. For example, after updating to WordPress 6.4, you’ll need to restore a backup running on 6.3.

To restore it, click on the Restore button:

Duplicator restore button

If the new update was incompatible with one of your plugins or themes, it could cause an error like the white screen of death. You might not be able to access your WordPress dashboard to restore a backup.

To avoid this problem, set disaster recovery points before updating your WordPress version. This way, you can always restore a Duplicator backup.

First, find a recent backup of your site. Click on the disaster recovery icon next to it:

Duplicator disaster recovery

After setting disaster recovery, be sure to copy the recovery link. You could also download the recovery launcher file:

Disaster recovery link

Then, feel free to update your WordPress version.

If anything goes wrong, paste the recovery link in a new browser window or open the launcher file. This will open the Duplicator recovery wizard:

Disaster recovery

Duplicator will restore your old backup, automatically downgrading WordPress in the process. You’ll be able to log back into your WordPress dashboard.

If you go to the Updates page, you’ll see that your site is using an older version of WordPress:

Downgraded WordPress version

Now, you can troubleshoot your website and try to fix any incompatibility issues. Once you’re finished, update WordPress to the newest version. 

Method 2: Manually Downgrade WordPress Version

It’s crucial to regularly back up your website so you can restore it if anything goes wrong during an update. However, your site could suddenly go down and you might not have a backup saved.

If you don’t have a recent backup, start by deactivating all of your WordPress plugins. Go to the Plugins page on your dashboard, select all active plugins, and choose Deactivate in the Bulk Actions menu:

Deactivate WordPress plugins

Since the problem could also be a theme conflict, you’ll need to activate a default WordPress theme. Under Appearance » Themes, find a default theme like Twenty Twenty-Three and activate it:

Activate default WordPress theme

Sometimes, an incompatibility error could lock you out of your WordPress dashboard. In this case, open an FTP client like FileZilla and rename your plugins folder something like plugins-deactivate.

Deactivate WordPress plugins with FTP

Then, open your themes folder and find your active theme. Renaming this folder will automatically activate a default WordPress theme:

Deactivate WordPress theme with FTP

After this, go to the WordPress release archive and download an older version as a zip file. Usually, you’ll want the next to newest release:

WordPress release archive

With an FTP client, delete your wp-admin and wp-includes directories. 

Then, unzip the WordPress archive you just downloaded and remove the wp-content folder and wp-config.php file. You won’t want to overwrite these files on your website. 

Upload every other file in the wordpress folder to your public_html directory. You can overwrite your previous core files with the uploaded versions.

Once you log back into your WordPress site, you may see a notice to update your database. All you’ll need to do is click Update WordPress Database. Then, your site will be running on an older version!

Method 3: Downgrade WordPress Version With a Plugin

Manually downgrading your WordPress version can be a difficult process for beginners. If you don’t want to work with an FTP client or file manager, you can install the WP Downgrade plugin. This free tool allows you to roll back your WordPress version right from your dashboard. 

WP Downgrade plugin

To get started, install and activate the plugin. Then, all you’ll have to do is find Settings » WP Downgrade:

WP Downgrade settings

Next to WordPress Target Version, enter the exact version number for the WordPress core update you want to use.

Hit Save Changes. Next, go to the Updates page. Here, you can re-install the previous version:

Roll back WordPress core version

Once the update is complete, you’ll see the welcome screen for whatever version you chose. 

Method 4: Manually Downgrade WordPress Plugins

You can also downgrade specific plugins or themes that you think are causing the issue. For plugins, find the plugin on WordPress.org and click on Advanced View:

Plugin advanced view

Scroll down to the bottom of the page. Under Advanced Options, use the dropdown menu to select a previous update:

Select old plugin version

After downloading this version, unzip the file. Then, open your site files and go to wp-content » plugins.

Rename the directory for the plugin you’re trying to downgrade. Now, drag and drop the downloaded plugin file into your plugins directory:

Upload old plugin version

This will activate the old version of the plugin. However, it will also keep a copy of your updated plugin so that you can re-activate it once you’re done troubleshooting.

This downgrade process works well for free plugins that are available on WordPress.org. However, you won’t be able to downgrade premium plugins or WordPress themes this way, because earlier versions are usually not publicly available. 

Method 5: Roll Back Plugin and Theme Updates

WP Rollback is a WordPress plugin designed to roll back theme and plugin updates. It works similarly to the WordPress plugin updater, but it allows you to move to a previous version instead of a new one.

WP Rollback plugin

With WP Rollback, you’ll see that each plugin has a new Rollback button next to it:

Rollback WordPress plugin

After clicking on this, you’ll be able to choose which version to go back to. You can even see changelogs for each version:

WP Rollback plugin versions

Select a previous version and hit Rollback. Then, confirm you want to downgrade the plugin version:

Confirm plugin rollback

WP Rollback will download the previous version and install it. To start using the plugin again, click on Activate Plugin:

Activate plugin rollback

You can also use the WP Rollback plugin to downgrade your WordPress theme. However, keep in mind that this only supports free themes from the WordPress directory.

Head over to Appearance » Themes and click on your theme. At the bottom of the pop-up, click on Rollback:

Rollback WordPress theme

Choose which theme version you want to downgrade to and hit Rollback:

WP Rollback theme versions

Click on Rollback again to finish downgrading your theme:

Confirm theme rollback

FAQs About Downgrading WordPress Version

Can I restore my WordPress site to a previous version?

Yes, you can restore your WordPress site to a previous version. To do this, restore a backup that you made before the update. This instantly reverts your WordPress version and removes any incompatibility errors. 

Tip: To avoid any unexpected bad updates, consider updating WordPress in a staging site! Since this will be an independent copy of your site, you can perform updates safely.  

How do I download an older version of WordPress?

You can download an older version of WordPress from the release archive. If you want to downgrade WordPress, start by deleting your wp-admin and wp-includes folders. Next, remove the wp-content directory and wp-config.php file from the downloaded wordpress folder. Finally, overwrite your public_html directory with the downloaded WordPress files. 

How do I downgrade PHP version in WordPress?

You can downgrade your PHP version through your WordPress hosting provider. In your control panel, find the PHP manager and select the PHP version you want to use. 

What is the risk of using an outdated WordPress version?

Using an outdated WordPress version can lead to security breaches, compatibility issues, and decreased performance. It’s crucial to regularly update WordPress to the latest version to protect against known vulnerabilities and to maintain the integrity of your website.

Conclusion

That’s it! You’ve downgraded your WordPress version.

Here are some extra WordPress tips and tricks to get the most out of your website:

Do you need to quickly downgrade your WordPress site? Download Duplicator Pro to easily restore your site to a previous version!

author avatar
Joella Dunn Content Writer
Joella is a writer with years of experience in WordPress. At Duplicator, she specializes in site maintenance — from basic backups to large-scale migrations. Her ultimate goal is to make sure your WordPress website is safe and ready for growth.

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