How to Downgrade A WordPress Version?

27 minutes read

Downgrading a WordPress version involves reversing the current version of your WordPress installation to an earlier or previous version. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to downgrade WordPress:

  1. Backup your WordPress site: Before any major changes, it's crucial to create a complete backup of your WordPress site, including the files and the database. This ensures that you have a restore point in case anything goes wrong during the downgrade process.
  2. Identify the current WordPress version: Log in to your WordPress admin panel and check the current version installed. You can find this information at the bottom of the admin dashboard or under the "Updates" section.
  3. Locate the desired older version: Visit the WordPress Release Archive (https://wordpress.org/download/release-archive/) and browse through the available versions. Select the version you want to downgrade to. Make sure that the chosen version is compatible with your theme and plugins to avoid any conflicts or compatibility issues.
  4. Deactivate plugins and switch to a default theme: To avoid potential conflicts during the downgrade process, deactivate all your plugins. Additionally, switch to a default WordPress theme like Twenty Twenty or any other default theme available in your installation.
  5. Disable automatic updates: Since you are downgrading WordPress, you must disable automatic updates to prevent the system from reverting to the latest version again. To do so, you can use a plugin like Easy Updates Manager or edit the wp-config.php file, adding the following line of code: define( 'WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE', false );
  6. Download the WordPress files: After identifying the desired version, download the WordPress installation files from the official WordPress website. Extract the files from the downloaded ZIP package to a folder on your computer.
  7. Replace WordPress core files: Connect to your WordPress site using FTP or your hosting control panel's file manager. Locate the root directory where WordPress is installed, usually named 'public_html' or 'www'. Delete all the files and folders in this directory except for the 'wp-content' folder and the 'wp-config.php' file. Now, upload the files from the earlier WordPress version that you downloaded in Step 6 to this directory.
  8. Run the WordPress database downgrade script: After replacing the core WordPress files, you need to run the upgrade script. Open a web browser and visit the "wp-admin/upgrade.php" page on your website (e.g., www.yourwebsite.com/wp-admin/upgrade.php). This script will handle the database changes required for the downgraded version. Follow the instructions displayed on the screen to complete the downgrade process.
  9. Reactivate plugins and revert to your theme: Once the downgrade process is complete, reactivate your plugins and switch back to your preferred theme. Make sure to thoroughly test your site to ensure everything is functioning as expected.


Remember, downgrading WordPress versions is not always recommended as it may introduce security risks or compatibility problems. It's crucial to thoroughly evaluate the reasons for downgrading and consider alternative solutions before proceeding.

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Can I revert back to the latest version of WordPress after downgrading?

Yes, you can revert back to the latest version of WordPress after downgrading. To do this, you would need to download and install the newest version of WordPress from the official website or through your hosting provider. After installing, make sure to backup your website's content and database, as restoring to a previous version may cause data loss.

Will downgrading WordPress affect my ability to use the Gutenberg editor?

No, downgrading WordPress should not affect your ability to use the Gutenberg editor. The Gutenberg editor is a core component of WordPress since version 5.0, so as long as you are using a version equal to or higher than 5.0, you should be able to use the Gutenberg editor. However, if you are using an older version of WordPress that does not include Gutenberg, downgrading to that version would remove the Gutenberg editor from your installation.

How can I check which version of WordPress I am currently using?

There are a few different ways to check which version of WordPress you are currently using:

  1. Dashboard Method: Log in to your WordPress dashboard (admin area). In the admin menu on the left, go to "Dashboard". On the top right corner of the Dashboard, you should see the WordPress version number.
  2. Footer Method: Visit any page of your WordPress website. Scroll to the bottom of the page. In the website footer, you may find a line that mentions "Proudly powered by WordPress" or similar, followed by the version number.
  3. Source Code Method: Visit any page of your WordPress website. Right-click anywhere on the page, and choose "View Page Source" or "Inspect Element" from the context menu. This will open the browser's developer tools. Search for "wp-content" or "wp-includes" in the source code. Within those folders, locate and open the "version.php" or "wp-version.php" file. In that file, you should find a line that specifies the WordPress version.


Note: It's always recommended to keep WordPress updated to the latest version for security and functionality reasons.

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1
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Rating is 5 out of 5

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Rating is 4.9 out of 5

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3
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Rating is 4.8 out of 5

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Rating is 4.3 out of 5

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Rating is 4.2 out of 5

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Will downgrading WordPress affect my website's performance?

Downgrading WordPress may affect your website's performance, as it can result in compatibility issues with themes, plugins, and security updates. Older versions of WordPress may not be optimized for newer server technologies, leading to slower loading times and potential security vulnerabilities. It is generally recommended to keep your WordPress installation up to date to ensure the best performance and security. Before downgrading, it is important to thoroughly test your website to ensure that all features and functionalities are working correctly.

Can I downgrade WordPress using the WP-CLI command line tool?

Yes, you can use the WP-CLI command line tool to downgrade WordPress to a previous version.


To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Open your terminal or command prompt.
  2. Navigate to your WordPress installation directory using the cd command.
  3. Run the following command to check the available versions of WordPress: wp core update --version=3.7 --dry-run
  4. Once you've identified which version you want to downgrade to, run the following command to downgrade: wp core update --version=X.X Replace "X.X" with the specific version number you want to downgrade to.


NOTE: It is important to back up your database and files before downgrading WordPress, as it can potentially cause issues with themes, plugins, or data compatibility.

Is it possible to downgrade WordPress only for specific sections of my website?

Yes, it is possible to downgrade WordPress for specific sections of your website. This can be achieved by creating a separate WordPress installation or using a WordPress Multisite setup.


Method 1: Separate WordPress Installation

  1. Install a new instance of WordPress in a subdirectory or subdomain of your website.
  2. Customize this separate WordPress installation with the desired earlier version or plugins/themes that are compatible with that version.
  3. Create or import content specific to these sections within the separate WordPress installation.
  4. Use links or redirects to direct users to the appropriate sections of your website between the main and separate WordPress installations.


Method 2: WordPress Multisite

  1. Set up a WordPress Multisite network.
  2. Install the desired earlier version of WordPress on a subdomain or subdirectory of your website.
  3. Customize this subdomain or subdirectory with the appropriate content and plugins/themes compatible with the earlier version.
  4. Configure and manage these sections as separate sites within the WordPress Multisite network.
  5. Use links or redirects to direct users to the appropriate sections of your website.


Both methods allow you to have different WordPress versions for specific sections of your site. However, note that managing multiple installations or a WordPress Multisite network may require additional effort and maintenance.

Are there any specific considerations for downgrading WordPress on a large-scale website?

Yes, downgrading WordPress on a large-scale website requires careful planning and considerations to ensure a smooth transition. Here are a few factors to consider:

  1. Compatibility: Check the compatibility of the theme, plugins, and customizations with the older WordPress version. Some features may not work or may be deprecated in the older version, so identify any potential issues before downgrading.
  2. Backup: Create a complete backup of the website before downgrading. This includes the database and all site files. In case anything goes wrong during the downgrade process, you can restore the previous version easily.
  3. Security: Older versions of WordPress may have security vulnerabilities. Consider the security implications of downgrading WordPress, and ensure that you have adequate security measures in place to protect your website.
  4. Testing: Set up a staging environment to test the downgrade process and ensure that all functionality works as expected. Thoroughly test the website in the older version before implementing it on the live site.
  5. Communication: Communicate with your team, stakeholders, and users about the downgrade process. Inform them about the reasons for the downgrade and any potential impact on features or functionality. Provide instructions for accessing the site during the downgrade process if necessary.
  6. Plan for Updates: Determine how you will handle future updates and whether you intend to upgrade to a newer version again in the future. Consider the version you are downgrading to, as some may be more difficult to upgrade from than others.


Remember that downgrading WordPress should be a last resort, and necessary only if there are specific reasons or limitations forcing the downgrade.

Does downgrading WordPress affect my theme and plugins?

Downgrading WordPress can potentially affect the functionality and compatibility of your theme and plugins. Theme and plugin developers often release updates to ensure compatibility with the latest version of WordPress. Downgrading WordPress may result in compatibility issues, leading to functionality problems or even causing some features to completely stop working. It is advisable to check with the theme and plugin developers to see if they support the version of WordPress you intend to downgrade to, or consider using alternative themes or plugins that are compatible with your desired WordPress version.

Are there any risks involved in downgrading WordPress if my website uses custom code?

Yes, there are risks involved in downgrading WordPress if your website uses custom code. Here are some of the potential risks:

  1. Compatibility Issues: Downgrading WordPress may cause conflicts with plugins, themes, and custom code that are designed for newer versions of WordPress. This could lead to broken functionality, layout issues, or even complete site failure.
  2. Security Vulnerabilities: Older versions of WordPress may have known security vulnerabilities that have been patched in newer versions. Downgrading could leave your website exposed to potential security risks.
  3. Incompatibility with PHP Versions: WordPress versions may have specific PHP version requirements. If you downgrade WordPress, you may face compatibility issues with your website's custom code if it relies on newer PHP features that are not supported in the downgraded version.
  4. Loss of New Features and Improvements: WordPress releases updates regularly to introduce new features, improvements, bug fixes, and performance enhancements. Downgrading means missing out on these benefits and possibly running into issues that have been addressed in newer versions.


Before considering a downgrade, it is essential to thoroughly assess the impact it will have on your website and custom code. It is advisable to consult with a WordPress developer or expert to evaluate the risks and explore alternative solutions.

How can I ensure that my website remains secure after downgrading WordPress?

Here are some steps you can take to ensure the security of your website after downgrading WordPress:

  1. Update plugins and themes: After downgrading WordPress, make sure to update all your plugins and themes to their latest stable versions. This helps to patch any security vulnerabilities present in the previous versions.
  2. Remove unused plugins and themes: Disable or remove any unused or outdated plugins and themes from your website. These can be potential entry points for attackers.
  3. Install a security plugin: Use a reputable security plugin like Wordfence or Sucuri to enhance your website's security. Configure it to regularly scan for malware, vulnerabilities, and unauthorized access attempts.
  4. Maintain strong passwords: Ensure all user accounts, including your admin account, have strong and unique passwords. Avoid using default or easily guessable passwords.
  5. Limit access privileges: Regularly review and modify user access levels to ensure that users have only the necessary privileges. Minimizing access decreases the potential impact of a compromise.
  6. Enable two-factor authentication (2FA): Implement 2FA to provide an additional layer of security for logging in to your website. It typically requires users to provide a code or token in addition to their passwords.
  7. Regularly backup your website: Regularly back up your website, including both the files and the database. In case of any security incident, you can quickly restore from a clean backup.
  8. Secure file permissions: Ensure that file permissions are correctly set to prevent unauthorized modifications. Restrict write permissions wherever possible.
  9. Monitor website activity: Monitor your website's activity logs for any suspicious or unauthorized activities. This can help identify any potential security breaches.
  10. Stay updated: Keep yourself informed about the latest security best practices and vulnerabilities related to WordPress. Regularly check for new updates and security advisories from WordPress.org and security blogs.


Remember, downgrading WordPress can introduce security risks, as you'll likely miss out on important security patches. Consider whether there are alternatives to the downgrade that achieve your desired goals while maintaining the latest version of WordPress for better security.

What are the risks associated with downgrading WordPress?

Downgrading WordPress carries several risks that you should be aware of:

  1. Security vulnerabilities: Older versions of WordPress may have known security vulnerabilities that have been patched in the latest updates. By downgrading, you expose your website to potential security risks and attacks.
  2. Incompatibility issues: Themes, plugins, and other third-party integrations may not work properly with older versions of WordPress. They might rely on features and functionality that have been introduced in newer versions, leading to compatibility issues and broken functionalities.
  3. Lack of support: WordPress releases updates to fix bugs, improve performance, and address security concerns. By downgrading, you miss out on these updates and may encounter issues that don't have official support or fixes available.
  4. Limited features: Newer versions of WordPress often introduce new features, enhancements, and tools that can enhance the functionality and performance of your website. By downgrading, you lose access to these features and improvements.
  5. Data loss: Downgrading WordPress versions can potentially lead to data loss or corruption if the downgrade process is not executed correctly or if plugins/themes are not compatible with the older version. It is always recommended to take a backup of your website before attempting any downgrade.
  6. Difficulty in future updates: Downgrading may make future updates more complicated. Upgrading from an older version to the latest may require additional steps or adjustments to ensure compatibility, which can be time-consuming and challenging.


To mitigate these risks, it is generally recommended to keep your WordPress installation up to date with the latest version and to thoroughly test any downgrades before implementing them on a live website.

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