Upgrading to WordPress 2.8 – Don’t panic!

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WordPress - how to have an error free upgrade

Yesterday I upgraded my WordPress 2.7.1 version to WordPress 2.8. I approached this with some considerable trepidation because I remember how easy it was a few weeks ago to install the blog for the first time. In my experience, anything that is easy to install is hard to upgrade! So, I took a cautious approach and I’m really relieved I did. If you are considering upgrading to WordPress 2.8 from earlier versions make sure you back up ALL your site files AND your database first.

Most people I have interacted with over the last 24 hours have had an easy time upgrading, but there is a significant group (me included) who have had problems. It is not clear why these problems have occurred – whether it is to do with hosting platforms or certain plugins. Here is what you can do to make your install as safe and easy as possible:

  1. BACKUP. Make sure you have complete back ups of your site files AND your database immediately before you start any upgrade process. This is essential in case anything goes wrong and you need to revert to your previous state. Store these files on a different server or on a local hard drive rather than on the server hosting your installed WordPress.
  2. DEACTIVATE all your plugins. There are some plugins that are incompatible with the new version of WordPress, or require further upgrade before they will work. Some plugins will cause either a complete failure of the upgrade, or may cause serious and catastrophic failures following the upgrade. Having them active during the install could cause conflicts. Do not take any risks with active plugins while you are upgrading.
  3. DO NOT USE AUTOMATIC UPGRADE. This does not work consistently on all hosting platforms and with all installed versions of the application. I seem to have problems with automatic upgrades for plugins and the WordPress application, as do many other people.
  4. DOWNLOAD the zip from WordPress.org http://wordpress.org/download/ to your local drive and unzip it.
  5. Use an FTP client to go to your remote server and DELETE
    • wp-admin
    • wp-includes (except wp-includes/languages if you have an older version installed)
    • readme.html
    • wp.php
    • xmlrpc.php
    • licence.txt
    • wp-content/plugins/widgets (if you have this installed)
    • wp-content/plugins/hello.php
    • wp-content/plugins/akismet/
    • All other files in the root EXCEPT those mentioned in 6 below.
    • wp-content/ (except those mentioned above in step 5.)
    • .htaccess
    • wp-content/images/
    • wp-config.php
  7. UPLOAD each folder separately in the following order:
    • wp-admin/
    • wp-includes/
    • wp-content/plugins/hello.php
    • wp-content/plugins/akisment/
    • wp-content/plugins/index.php
    • all the files in the root directory (except wp-config-sample.php)
  8. In your browser, go to www.yourblogdomain.com/wp-admin/
  9. If asked to upgrade your database, click the button then log-in as normal
  10. Identify any plugins that need to be upgraded, download them, delete them from your server in your FTP client, then upload the new files. Again, do not use the automatic update feature while upgrading, especially if it is unreliable on your system.
  11. Activate each plugin one by one and test that the server continues to work. Some plugins cause a 500 Server Error sometime after they have been reactivated and this could be the next time you log in. If this happens, it is most likely to be a plugin error and it is best to activate plugins one by one over a period of time.
  12. Any plugins that do not work (I have had problems with All-in-one-SEO and YARPP), delete from your server, delete from your local drive, download again and upload fresh copies, try again. If they still cause problems, you won’t be able to use them until they have been updated by the developer.
  13. Check all of your SETTINGS.
  14. Check that your blog posts are visible and showing.


When I first installed version 2.8, I followed the quick process and this resulted in not being able to identify the /wp-admin/ address; so I could not log into WordPress. This is when I followed the procedure above and managed to install a working version of the upgrade WordPress 2.8.

Since then, I have had problems with new versions of all-in-one-SEO, which will not activate and YARPP, which causes an ERROR 500 “Internal Server Error” on my server. I am hopeful that manual installs of fresh copies of these downloads will resolve these issues.

Interestingly, when I try login to my WordPress install, I sometimes get an ERROR 500 message and have to retry several times….

If you are having a similar problem with this or future versions of WordPress, try reading my update to this blog post.