How to Upgrade Your WordPress Plugins - dummies

By Lisa Sabin-Wilson

WordPress plugins receive updates that fix bugs, add new features, and update existing features. Some plugins are updated multiple times a week. Other plugins may never be updated. Fortunately, WordPress makes it easy to know when a new plugin version is available and also makes it very easy to update your local plugin directory from the Dashboard.

One of the easiest ways to know that plugin updates are available is by the version number displayed on the Plugins page on your Dashboard, directly underneath the plugin description. The figure shows that the Akismet plugin has an available update, evidenced by the phrase underneath the Akismet description that says There is a new version of Akismet available.

The figure also shows how the Dashboard page provides alerts about upgrades with the small dark circle shown next to the word Plugins in the left navigation menu.


There are three ways to update a plugin: from the Plugins page, from the Updates submenu accessible under the Dashboard menu, and by manually updating the files via FTP.

Update on the WordPress Plugins page

Updating a plugin on the Plugins page is very easily done. There are two different ways to update a plugin on this page: You can update plugins one at a time or update all the plugins that need it in one fell swoop.

To update individual plugins, click the Update Now link at the bottom of the plugin’s row. WordPress automatically updates the plugin with the files from the new release. Pay attention to the messages to ensure that the update was successful.


If an error is indicated, take a screenshot or copy the error details and create a support request on the community support forum. The helpful people there can help you figure out the source of your issue and what the solution is.

If updates inside the Dashboard continuously fail, contact your hosting provider to see whether there are any server-specific issues preventing WordPress from updating its plugins.

Although clicking the Update Now link is very simple and quick, it can get tedious if you have a large number of plugins.

To update all your plugins at once, click the checkmark next to each plugin, select Update from the Bulk Actions drop-down list, and click the Apply button. All your plugins are now updated. The figure shows both Akismet and Hello Dolly updated at the same time.


Update on the WordPress Updates page

The Updates page, accessible as a submenu of the Dashboard menu, provides quick access to update WordPress, plugins, and themes in one place. The Updates page is a one-stop shop for all the updates across your site.


To update all of the plugins, simply click a checkbox next to one of the Select All headers and click the Update Plugins button. All your selected plugins are updated.

Update WordPress plugins manually

The process of manually updating a plugin is nearly identical to the steps for manually installing the plugin. The only change is to delete the plugin’s directory before uploading the new files. Follow these steps:

  1. Download the latest version of the plugin from the WordPress Plugin Directory or the plugin developer’s website.

  2. Connect to your server via an FTP application and go to the plugins directory in the wp-content directory.

    You should see a folder with the same name as the plugin you want to upgrade.

  3. Rename this folder so that you have a backup if you need it.

    Any memorable name, such as plugin-old should suffice.

  4. Upload the new version of your plugin via FTP to your server so that it’s in the wp-content/plugins folder.

  5. Log in to the WordPress Dashboard and activate your upgraded plugin.

If you made any changes to the configuration files of your plugin before your upgrade, make those changes again after the upgrade. If you need to back out of the upgrade, you can just delete the new plugin directory and rename the folder from plugin-old to plugin.