Rollback WordPress Updates: A Safe and Effective Guide

Have you ever made an update on your site just to know what WordPress errors such as White Screen of Death (WSOD) or critical error look like?

Probably a BIG NO!, entailing updates in core files, themes, or plugins are mostly conducted to ensure the WordPress website’s peak performance. Yet, in the complex hop of website maintenance, there are moments when these updates fail to integrate well, resulting in the bluster of errors. 

Following such scenarios, the feature of a rollback to an older version emerges as a vital practice for any WordPress administrator. In this article, we are about to encircle the step-by-step yet safe guide to achieve the same.

Moreover, we’ll delve into the grounds behind this practice, unraveling the critical reasons you would need to rollback the WordPress update and five methods for downgrading WordPress sites.

What is Rollback in WordPress Website?

WordPress rollback, also known as downgrade WordPress, is a strategic action taken to revert the website to a previous version, effectively undoing recent updates or changes. This process stands for rewinding the clock on your website’s development, returning it to a known, stable configuration from a previous point in time.

Rollbacks are an essential aspect of WordPress website management. This practice basically helps administrators address issues or conflicts that have arisen after implementing updates, whether they are related to the core WordPress software, themes, or a plugin.

By initiating a rollback WordPress site, you can ensure the continued reliability and overall website performance. Ultimately, restoring the fully functioning version can also benefit you in maintaining a flawless and positive user experience.

Why Would You Rollback WordPress Updates?

There are various scenarios, where rolling back WordPress updates becomes necessary. It might be due to the potential issues or complications that can arise following updates. Here are the common reasons why you might need to initiate a rollback:

1. Compatibility Issues

If we go through the recent updates in WP, it was regarding its version update to WordPress 6.3 and hop on PHP 8. Sometimes, the theme, plugin, or custom code integrated into your site might be incompatible with such core updates. 

This incompatibility can lead to broken functionality, layout issues, or other glitches. This rise necessitates a rollback to the previous version to restore compatibility.

2. Bugs and Errors

Despite rigorous testing, updates can introduce unexpected WordPress errors to your website. These issues can disrupt the proper functioning of your site, causing frustration for both administrators and users.

Rolling back to the optimal version can help you to maintain a bug-free state until the issues are resolved. Before these bugs turn into a big phase, using a WordPress error log – you can monitor and prevent such consequences easily.

3. Security Concerns

WordPress security is one of the most common reasons to perform a WP downgrade procedure, in the event of a security vulnerability being discovered in a recent update, it becomes vital to address the issue promptly.

While you wait for a fixed version, rolling back to a previous state can temporarily mitigate the security risk and ensure the safety of your website and user data. Because of such reasons only, periodic approaches like WordPress health check and scanning site for malware are primarily suggested by us.

4. Maintaining a Known and Stable Configuration

Website administrators, especially those managing critical or highly visible websites, may choose to maintain known and stable WordPress settings.

In such cases, rolling back is a proactive measure to prevent disruptions caused by new updates, as it ensures that your website remains in a state where all components are functioning reliably.

5. Data Loss or Content Issues

Updates, particularly to plugins or themes, can sometimes result in error messages such as an error establishing a database connection or error 502 – bad gateway – ultimately concluding in content related issues.

These problems may include missing content, data corruption, or layout problems that affect the latest version of the website. Rolling back can help recover lost data and rectify content-related issues.

In addition, rolling back WordPress updates is a preventive and curative measure that allows you to maintain a smooth, secure, and stable website, even in the face of potential post-update challenges. It is a crucial skill for ensuring the continuous and trouble-free operation of your WordPress site.

Methods to Downgrade WordPress Updates Safely

Now, you know ‘What is Rollback in WordPress Website?’ and ‘Why Would You Rollback WordPress Updates?‘, then how about diving into methods for downgrading WordPress sites?

In this section, we will explore five effective methods for safely downgrading WordPress updates, ensuring that your website maintains its integrity and functionality.

Whether you encounter compatibility issues or wish to revert to a previous version for other reasons, these methods provide you with the tools to manage the WordPress version effectively.

Method 1: Use WP Downgrade Plugin to Revert WordPress Previous Version

The WP Downgrade plugin is a valuable tool in your inventory when it comes to safely downgrade your WordPress installation to a previous version.

This method empowers you to make a controlled shift back in time, where the website’s known stability is restored. Here’s how to use the WP Downgrade plugin effectively:

Steps to Use WP Downgrade Plugin to Run a Previous Version of WordPress 

1. Installation and Activation: Begin by conducting the WP Downgrade plugin installation and activating it on your WordPress panel.

2. Access Plugin Settings: Navigate to your WordPress admin dashboard and locate the ‘Settings‘ option.

3. Select WP Downgrade: In the Settings menu, find and select the ‘WP Downgrade‘ option.

4. Enter Desired Version: Within the WP Downgrade settings, enter the specific version of WordPress that you intend to downgrade to. (Ensure that this version is compatible with your themes and plugins.)

5. Save Your Changes: After entering the desired version, save your changes by clicking the ‘Save Changes‘ button.

6. Confirm Downgrade: The plugin will prompt you to confirm the downgrade. Once you approve the action, the WP Downgrade plugin will automatically download and install the chosen downgrade WordPress version.

7. Test Your Site: After the downgrade process is complete, thoroughly test your website to ensure that it functions as expected with the previous version of WordPress.

Method 2: Restore WordPress Backup for Conducting WP Downgrade

Another method to safely perform a WordPress downgrade involves the restoration of a previously created backup of your website.

This approach is particularly useful if you regularly backup WordPress site and need to revert to a state where an earlier version of WordPress is in use.

Steps to Restore WordPress Backup for Performing a WP Downgrade

1. Access Your Control Panel: Log in to your web hosting control panel or choose plugin to access your website’s backup functionality.

2. Select the Desired Backup: Choose a backup that corresponds to a time when the older WordPress version was active on your website.

3. Restore the Backup: Initiate the restoration process, ensuring that your website reverts to the state you’ve selected.

4. Test Your Site: After the restoration is complete, rigorously test your site to verify that it’s functioning correctly with the older version of WordPress.

5. Disable Automatic Updates: To prevent your website from WordPress automatic updates to a newer version, ensure that each automatic update is disabled until you’re ready to proceed.

Method 3: Downgrade WordPress Website Manually

If you are locked out of the WordPress admin panel due to a white screen of death (WSOD) or critical error this method is for you.

In case, you prefer a hands-on approach for downgrading your WordPress website then also consider this approach in use. This method provides you with complete control over the process.

Here’s how to manually downgrade your WordPress version:

Steps to Downgrade WordPress Website Manually

1. Backup Your Website: Begin by creating full backup of the WordPress website. This backup will act as a safety net in case anything goes wrong during the downgrade process.

2. Access Your Hosting Control Panel: Log in to your web hosting control panel. The specific control panel may vary depending on the WordPress hosting provider you choose, but common options include cPanel or Plesk.

3. File Manager: Navigate to the file manager section of your hosting control panel. This is where you’ll work with the files of your WordPress installation.

4. Locate the WordPress Installation Directory: Find the directory where your WordPress website is installed. This is typically in the ‘public_html‘ directory or a subdirectory of it.

5. Download WordPress Version: Locate and download the specific version of WordPress you want to downgrade to. You can revert the WordPress version from the official WordPress release archive.

6. Replace WordPress Files: Upload the downloaded WordPress files to your website directory, overwriting the existing files. Be cautious and ensure you’re only replacing core WordPress files, not your theme or plugin files.

7. Update the Database: Sometimes, a WordPress version change may require a database update. Visit your website, and if prompted, follow the on-screen instructions to update the database.

Method 4: Consider the Addition of the WP Rollback Plugin

The WP Rollback plugin is a powerful tool for managing WordPress updates. It simplifies the process of rolling back to a previous version of a theme or plugin. Here’s how you can consider adding and using this plugin effectively:

Steps to Consider the Addition of the WP Rollback Plugin

1. Install WP Rollback: In your WordPress dashboard, navigate to the ‘Plugins‘ section and click ‘Add New.’ Search for the ‘WP Rollback‘ plugin and install it.

2. Select the Plugin to Roll Back: Go to the ‘Plugins‘ section in your dashboard. Locate the plugin you want to downgrade in the list and click the ‘Rollback‘.

3. Choose the Version: The WP Rollback plugin will present a list of available versions for the selected plugin. Choose the previous version you want to install and click ‘Rollback.’

4. Verify Functionality: After the rollback, test the plugin to ensure it’s working correctly with your current WordPress version.

Method 5: Downgrade Specific Theme/Plugin

In some cases, you may encounter issues with a specific theme or plugin after updating WordPress and just want to downgrade that individual component. This method allows you to revert previous versions of a theme or plugin while keeping the rest of your WordPress installation up to date.

Steps to Downgrade Specific Theme/Plugin

1. Access Your WordPress Dashboard: Log in to your WordPress admin dashboard.

2. Navigate to Themes/Plugins: If you want to downgrade a theme, go to ‘Appearance‘ and select ‘Themes.’ For a plugin, go to ‘Plugins.’ Find and identify the theme or plugin you want to downgrade.

3. Deactivate the Theme/Plugin: Deactivate the theme or plugin you intend to downgrade. This prevents it from running on your site while you make changes.

4. Access Theme/Plugin Editor: In your WordPress dashboard, go to ‘Appearance‘ and select ‘Theme Editor‘ for themes or ‘Plugins‘ and select ‘Editor‘ for plugins.

5. Select the Theme/Plugin: In the editor, choose the specific theme or plugin you want to work with from the dropdown list. This will open the theme or plugin’s files for editing.

6. Locate the Previous Version: To downgrade, you need to replace the current theme or plugin files with the files from a previous version. You can typically obtain older versions of themes and plugins from the repository or the official website of the theme or plugin developer.

7. Download the Previous Version: Download the previous version of the theme or plugin to your computer. Ensure it’s compatible with your current WordPress version.

8. Upload and Replace Files: Access the file structure for the theme or plugin. You may need to use FTP Client (File Transfer Protocol) or file manager access. Replace the existing theme or plugin files with the files from the previous version.

9. Activate the Theme/Plugin: After uploading the previous version, go back to your WordPress dashboard and activate the theme or plugin. By activating each of them one by one you can prevent conflict and establish an updated WordPress website setup.

Benefits of Downgrading WordPress Version

Downgrading WordPress has some potential benefits, although they should be carefully considered against the hazards. Here are five potential benefits:

1. Compatibility With Plugins/Themes

If a critical plugin or theme on your website is not compatible with the latest WordPress version, downgrading can temporarily restore compatibility. It also helps you to ensure that your site functions as expected until you can find an alternative or until the plugin or theme is updated.

2. Stability

In some cases, a new WordPress release may introduce bugs or instability to your website. Downgrading to a previous version can provide a short-term solution while you figure out a long run solution.

3. Website Support

Older websites with deprecated code or custom solutions may not function correctly with the latest WordPress versions. Downgrading can help you get your site running on stable settings and configurations.

4. Urgent rollback

If a critical security issue arises following a WordPress update, and a fix or patch is not available immediately, you might consider downgrading as a temporary measure to mitigate the security risk.

5. Experimental or Testing Purposes

Web administrators might choose to downgrade WordPress installation in a controlled environment for testing and experimentation, without affecting their production site. This can help in evaluating how certain plugins, themes, or custom code function with older versions of WordPress.

While these benefits may justify downgrading WordPress current version in specific circumstances, it’s important to process this practice with caution and understand the potential preciseness involved.

FAQs About Downgrading WordPress Version

What alternatives should I consider before downgrading WordPress?
There are several alternatives you can consider before downgrading WordPress, here are a few of them you can consider:
  • Updating your plugins and themes to their latest versions.
  • Seek support from the plugin or theme development company.
  • Troubleshoot compatibility issues.
Downgrading WordPress version should be considered a last resort when other options have been exhausted.
How do I find the appropriate older version of WordPress to downgrade to?
To find the specific version of WordPress to which you want to downgrade, you can visit the official WordPress release archive, which provides access to all past versions. Choose the version that corresponds to your needs and the last stable version before you encounter issues.
What should I consider when it comes to plugin and theme compatibility during the downgrade process?
When downgrading WordPress, it's essential to consider the compatibility of your plugins and themes with the older version. Some may not function correctly with older WordPress versions.

It's advisable to check the plugin and theme documentation for compatibility information, seek updates, or temporarily replace incompatible plugins and themes.


Thus, downgrading WordPress is a useful practice when facing compatibility issues, bugs, or other issues following an update.

Downgrading the WordPress version allows you to revert to a stable configuration from a previous point in time. However, this process should be conducted with caution, and it’s best used as a temporary solution while you address the underlying problems.

Remember to backup your site and monitor for updates to ensure a safe and smooth transition. As per the consequences, you can choose any of the methods mentioned in this article. If you need further assistance, feel free to request a free quote from our WordPress development experts.

Mehul Patel is a seasoned IT Engineer with expertise as a WordPress Developer. With a strong background in Core PHP and WordPress, he has excelled in website development, theme customization, and plugin development.

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