alisha-mcfarland-website-maintenance-safely-update-theme

Safely Update Theme

Occasionally, you will need to update the theme you are using for your WordPress website.

Here are 3 options to safely update a theme.

Step #1 Create a Backup of Your Website

→ Log in to your WordPress website as an Administrator.

→ Go to the All-in-One WP Migration plugin.

If you don’t have this installed yet, install it. This plugin has saved me countless times.

→ Click on Export, Export to and File (or one of the cloud storage options).

This will start the process of backing up your entire site.

The box content will change from Preparing to Export, Retrieving List of All WP Files and Archiving.

When it reaches the Archiving step, it will show a percentage.

Let it run. Be patient. Go check Facebook while you wait.

→ Click on Download in the green pulsing box.

This will open a Save window.

→ Save the .wpress file somewhere in the cloud (Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon Web Services).

I strongly recommend you do NOT save it to your hard drive since they can fail.

Wait for the download to complete. Otherwise, you run the risk of not having a complete file in case you need it.

Once that is done, you can rest easy, since you know you have a complete backup of your site in case anything goes awry in the next few steps.

Step #2 Update Your Theme

Option #1 Use the Automated Notification Links

If the theme author provides automatic notifications about an update, you’ll see a number in a circle next to the Dashboard, Updates menu, a text notification in the Appearance, Themes menu and on the Theme information panel.

WARNING: If you have made customizations to any of the theme files; like the CSS stylesheet, using the instructions below to update the theme will overwrite these changes.

You can use any of the hyperlinks shown, to update the theme, but here is how to update the theme using the link in the Dashboard, Updates area.

→ Click on Updates.

→ Click the Checkbox next to the Theme listed.

→ Click the Update Themes button.

Let it process until it tells you that the theme was updated successfully.

→ Check the pages and posts on your website to make sure it looks how you intended.

You’re done!

Option #2 Update with the zip File

If you have received an email notice from the theme’s author that an update is ready but it doesn’t appear in your Updates page, you will need to update the theme using the following instructions.

WARNING: If you have made customizations to any of the theme files; like the CSS stylesheet, using the instructions below to update the theme will overwrite these changes.

→ Download the Theme zip file from the link provided in the email / your point of purchase.

→ Go to Appearance, Themes and activate a theme other than the one you are going to update. If you don’t have another to choose from, install one (it doesn’t matter which one you choose).

→ Click on the Theme Details (appears as you hover the theme box) for the inactive theme and then Delete.

Don’t worry. We have the backup remember. 🙂

→ Click on the Theme Details (appears as you hover the theme box) for the inactive theme and then Delete.

→ Click on the Add New button at the top of the Themes area.

→ Click the Choose file button and select the theme zip file.

→ Click Install Now.

It will provide information as it is installing the file. When it is completed, an option to Activate the theme will appear.

→ Click on Activate.

→ Check the pages and posts on your website to make sure it looks good.

You’re done!

Option #3 Update Using cPanel and File Manager

If you have received an email notice from the Theme’s author that an update is ready but it doesn’t appear in your Updates page, you will need to download the zip file they provide and upload it via the cPanel.

→ Download the Theme zip file from the link provided in the email / your point of purchase.

→ Login to cPanel.

→ Click on File Manager.

→ Click on public_html, then wp_content, then Themes.

You will see folders for each of the themes that you have installed.

→ Click on the folder for the active theme and select Compress from the menu option (should be on the upper far right)

A Compress window will appear.

→ Click on the Zip Archive radio button and then the Compress File(s) button.

A Compressions Results window will show you a list of what was archived and a zip file will appear in your Themes folder.

→ Rename the zip file “Theme Name_Old” or use the version name so you can distinguish it from the newer version.

→ Download the zip file to a cloud storage service in case you need to revert back to this theme.

→ Make sure you are still in the public_html/wp_content/themes folder and click on Upload.

→ Check the ‘Overwrite existing files’ box along with all of the other boxes to give it full permissions.

→ Click Browse, find the zip file with the newest version of the theme and select it.

A box will appear in the lower right-hand corner of the screen showing the progress of the upload.

Be patient. Large themes will take a while.

It will notify you when it is complete.

→ Click on the link that will take you back to File Manager.

→ Click once on the zip file that just uploaded

→ Click on Extract in the upper menu.

→ Make sure it is going to the same folder, then click Extract Files.

It will open a box showing the list of files it extracted.

→ Click close.

→ Check your website to make sure everything looks correct.