What is it with certain webhosts? I mean, I know that none of the Fantastico-type installers have yet caught up to the fact that you can upgrade WordPress automatically from within the dashboard, so whenever you log into your control panel, it’s going to tell you that you need to upgrade even though you already did. (I found that “upgrading” through Cpanel when I have already upgraded is safe in BlueHost; I have not tried doing the equivalent with GoDaddy or DreamHost.)
But some web hosting companies seem determined to cut you off entirely from the automatic upgrade and install features of the latest versions of WordPress. And the absolute worst culprit I have yet discovered is Earthlink. Attempts at upgrading automatically not only don’t work, they manage to wipe out the active theme folder, much to the dismay of my client, who then needs me to go in, restore her theme, and handle the upgrade manually.
I have no idea why Earthlink sets it up this way, but the ability of WordPress to function rests on the existence of a file called Earthlink.dat, created when the Earthlink staff first installed WordPress. I’m not really interested in the technical details of why this problem exists, since I believe the best solution is for my client to switch web hosts. Their “starter site” plan costs more than twice what everyone else is charging, and I’m not hearing wonderful things about their service. (It was different back when my cousin Jason the Mac geek worked there.)
And this isn’t the only client whose WordPress site I’ve had to upgrade manually of late. In some cases, the installation was too old to upgrade automatically and wouldn’t work with the wonderful Instant Upgrade plugin. In others, there appeared to be some kind of permissions block. Either way, I’ve pretty much memorized the not-very-complicated instructions from the WordPress Codex.
Step 1: Replace WordPress files
- Get the latest WordPress. Either download and extract it to your computer or download it directly to the server.
- Delete your old
- Copy the new WordPress files to your server, overwriting old files in the root, except perhaps the
wp-contentfolder (see “NOTE” below). Note that this means *all* the files, including all the files in the root directory as well. If you use the default or classic theme and have customized it, then you can skip that theme.
wp-contentfolder requires special handling, as do the
themesfolders. You should copy over the contents of these folders, not the entire folder. In some cases, copying the entire folder may overwrite all your customizations and added content.
Also take care to preserve the content of the wp-config.php file in the root directory. This file contains current settings for your existing installation, e.g. database sign-in information.
Step 2: Upgrade your installation
Visit your main WordPress admin page at /wp-admin. You may be asked to login again. If a database upgrade is necessary at this point, WordPress will detect it and give you a link to a URL like
http://example.com/wordpress/wp-admin/upgrade.php. Follow that link and follow the instructions. This will update your database to be compatible with the latest code. If you fail to do this step, your blog might look funny.
This is not difficult, or even very time-consuming. It’s just tedious. And it shouldn’t be necessary.