WordPress Website Update Issues

Having Issues with Updating WordPress Plugins?

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If you’ve been running a website on WordPress for long enough, you’re bound to have come across this issue sooner or later… You know the one;

“The update cannot be installed because we will be unable to copy some files. This is usually due to inconsistent file permissions. includes/error_log”

You’ve probably spent a bit of time already, Googling around for an answer, and seen some people are suggesting that you update file permissions to 777 (security issues anyone?), or login through SSH to make changes, which is fine if you know what you’re doing and you have root access to your server. Chances are, if either of those have worked for you, you wont be here reading this right now.

So for the rest of us, the easiest way to resolve this issue will be to update the plugins manually by uploading the files ourselves, rather than relying on the WordPress updater, to do the job itself.

So let’s get started on your plugin update nirvana…

1 – Download the Plugin Files

If you’re having issues with a Theme not updating, follow the same steps, but you’ll be downloading all of the new Theme Files instead.

First things first, you need to download a copy of the latest version of the Plugin from the WordPress Repository. Some Premium Plugins also use the WordPress Updater to notify and update their Plugins, often with the use of an API or Serial Key. So if you are having issues with updating these Premium Plugins too, simply follow the same steps, but download the Updated Plugin(s) from wherever you purchased your Plugin (or Theme).

2 – Connect to your Server using an FTP Program

You now need to upload the files to your WordPress Plugins Folder using an FTP program. You may be tempted to simply upload the zipped files through the Admin area, but this wont work since WordPress will tell you that the Plugin already exists and will not allow you to overwrite them this way.

Instead you’re going to have to use an FTP program such as Filezilla to be able to upload your files to the server. If you’ve never used Filezilla or any other FTP program before, you will need to create an FTP account on your Web Hosting Control Panel (you can find the instructions on how to do this elsewhere, or ask your Web Host).

Be careful how you progress with this program, as you have the potential to completely wipe your website files if you’re not careful. So advance with extreme caution if you’ve never done this before and you’re unsure what you’re doing.

3 – Upload the Plugin Files to your Server

Once you are connected to your Web Server, you should see a list of WordPress Files on your Web Server. You will need to navigate your way to the Plugins Folder by clicking on the “WP-Content” folder and then the “Plugins” folder (or “Themes” folder if you’re uploading a Theme).

You now need to upload all of the Plugin Files to this folder location, so in the left hand side of Filezilla, you’ll need to navigate to the location on your computer where you saved these files. If you have them zipped still, you will need to unzip them as you’re uploading the unzipped versions of your Plugin Files.

Once you have found the Parent Folder of the Plugin, right click it and select to upload all the files. It is now that you will see that Filezilla will warn you that the files already exist, don’t worry. You can ignore this and tell Filezilla to overwrite the files existing Plugin files. You may also want to click the two checkboxes below this which say “Always use this action” and “Apply to current queue only”. This will prevent you having to give the OK to each and every file Filezilla uploads that it finds already exists within that Plugin’s Parent Folder.

Once all of the files have been uploaded, you can now refresh the WordPress Updater webpage on your website, and if you have followed all of these steps, you should see the that the Plugin(s) are no longer showing as being out of date. If it does, it may be because you uploaded an older version of the Plugin some how, or some other reason.

Want an Alternative to FTP? – Server Control Panel File Uploader

If you really are not feeling comfortable with using an FTP program, or maybe you’ve had problems getting your FTP program to connect to the server for whatever reason. Then there is an alternative you can try which will be a little easier for most people.

All Web Hosting Control Panels (Plesk and cPanel being two of the most popular ones) come with a way to upload files to your Web Server without touching an FTP program. If you know where to find the “File Uploader” program on the control panel, head to that now, but for those who don’t. You should be able to find help online or ask your Web Host for assistance with this.

The bonus with using this method is that rather than having to unzip your new Plugin Files, you can keep them zipped for uploading to your Web Server. So as before, you will need to navigate your way to the “WP-Content” folder and then the “Plugins” folder. Once you have the zipped version of your Plugin uploaded (I should add, if you’ve downloaded your Plugin from anywhere but the WordPress repository, unzip the Plugin first to ensure you only have the Plugin files in the folder and not any additional folders and “read me” files), you can extract the Plugin files and overwrite the current Plugin files.

As before, once this is done, you can now refresh the WordPress Updater webpage on your website, and if you have followed all of these steps, you should see the that the Plugin(s) are no longer showing as being out of date. If it does, it may be because you uploaded an older version of the Plugin some how, or some other reason.

David Smith
David Smith About the author

<p>David graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University in 2012 with a degree in Business Systems Management and joined Marketing Signals soon after. He developed a passion for Web Design and SEO prior to going to University. Today he works as an Account Manager, as well as taking on the Technical SEO responsibilities and WordPress Web Design.</p>

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