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How To Update Your WordPress Site Safely

Many clients often ask “Do I need to update my theme and how to update my site without losing my customization?” It is obvious that you should install new updates of your themes and plugins because of following reasons.

Firstly, theme updates often fix several bugs that were addressed in previous versions. If you can’t solve these problems yourself, the only way is installing the new theme version. Secondly, these new updates often add new features and functionalities. That’s why you should keep your site updated.

However, to update your site safely, we recommend you the following process. Let’s continue reading:

Step 1. Read release notes or changelog

Firstly, before you update your site with new theme version, you should read the release note or changelog carefully in order to see what changes or new features are included. Normally, the changelog and release notes are presented in product detail page or in theme file.

Step 2. Back up your site

If your site goes on live and you don’t want to interrupt your visitors, it is better to test the update on a development site. With this way, you can check and troubleshoot any problems arise. Another way to protect your database and your customizations is having backup of your WordPress site.

Although this step is optional, backups ensure that you have prepared for a bad circumstance when something goes awry. It is recommended to back up the entire site. It means that you need to back up your entire WordPress database. You can simply back up your database with phpMyadmin or cPanel. Another simple way for you to go is using an FTP client. Just go to wp-content/themes/ and download the theme folder to your computer.

ftp backup

Moreover, you can take advantages of backup plugins such as BackUpWordPress or BackWPup . This will be one of the easiest ways to back up your database.

Step 3. Switch caching off

Before you make any updates, remember to deactivate any caching plugins to make sure that you are not caching maintenance pages when updating.

Step 4. Update theme

Next, you are ready to start updating your WordPress site. This process can be achieved through some ways mentioned below:

a. Automatic Updates

There are lots of themes allowing you to update automatically. You can go to Dashboard --> Updates or Appearance --> Themes and select the theme you are using to update.

automatic update

However, most of these themes are available on WordPress Theme Repository. For premium themes, they are not automatically updated. Instead, you have to update these themes manually.

b. Manual Updates

In essence, because you can’t have two folders in the themes directory with identical names, updating theme manually means that you upload and replace an existing theme. There are 2 ways to update the theme version: via FTP/cPanel or via WordPress admin.


• Go to marketplace where you buy the theme and download new theme version.

• Login your site via WordPress dashboard.

• Go to Appearance --> Themes and deactivate the current theme you are using by activating a different theme. Once you activate another theme, you can delete your theme. Because we have already backed up entire database, you can delete the theme without affecting your database.

• In this Themes section, you click Install Themes --> Upload and select the new theme version. In case you download the full theme package, you need to extract the package and get theme file in theme folder.

• Activate the theme.


• Login to your site via FTP or cPanel.

• Go to wp-content/themes and delete the old theme.

• Extract new theme file

• Upload new theme folder to wp-content/themes.

• Go back Appearance --> Themes and activate your theme.

Notice: If you don’t want to delete your old theme, you can rename the old theme version before uploading new theme folder.

5. Update plugins

After updating new theme version, sometimes, you also need to update plugins in order to use new additional features as well as ensure that your plugins are completely compatible with the new theme version.

6. Reactivate your caching plugins

After finishing updating theme and plugins, you can reactivate your caching plugin and clear the cache.

7. Check your site

It is important to check your site, pages and posts meticulously. In case, something goes wrong, you should find solutions timely.

8. Update customized theme

The big question is that you have made lots of customizations with your site, how can you recover these changes to new theme version? There are 2 options for you to go:

• Update changed files

Before you upload new theme version, if you remember your customizations you made in your old theme, just copy back these changes to new theme file. On the other hand, if you forget these customizations, don’t worry. You can use some tools to compare the old and new theme version and find them out. You can use file comparison software such as WinMerge etc. 

In case your updates are also included in the new theme version, you can upload and overwrite the files in the old theme version normally.

• Use Child theme

It can be seen that this is the safest way for you to save your customizations. All your changes added in Child theme will not affect the Parent theme. It also helps you to save a lot of time because your customizations will remain untouched during the update and you also don’t have to spend time recovering each updated files.

Currently, in TemPlaza’s theme package, child themes are included so that you don’t have to spend time creating new one. If child themes are not available, you can follow the instruction here to create your own child theme.

In summary, we hope that this article helped you list necessary steps when updating new theme version. If you have any suggestion, don’t hesitate to share with us in the comment box below.

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