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How to Update Plugin Manually via FTP

Updated on Oct 10, 2022

Sometimes your automatic in-dashboard plugin update may fail, or for some reason, you might not have access to your admin dashboard. In such cases, you will need to perform a manual plugin update. For most people, the best way to run these manual updates is via SFTP/FTP. The FTP method is quick, simple, and won’t affect any of your plugin’s settings. This post is to explain how you can do that quickly and safely, step by step.

Table of Contents:

Why Would a Plugin Need to be Updated Manually?

Usually, all that needs to be done when updating a theme, a plugin, or the content management system core itself, is to click once, and the system does its job. 

  1. In some cases, automated updates may fail due to improper configuration. In those cases, the updates usually get interrupted, leaving you with a broken site. To resolve the issue, you would need a manual update of your plugin via an FTP client. Doing that will fix whatever errors happened because you will overwrite the plugin files with fresh ones from the official source. 
  2. You'll also need to manually upload and update any plugins you downloaded from a vendor's website.

How to Use FTP to Manually Update Your Plugin

Prerequisites:

To get started with this method, you’ll need a couple of tools and pieces of information:

  • An FTP program. This allows you to connect to your site via SFTP/FTP. If you need help with setting up your FTP client, we have an FTP client tutorial section that you can check. FileZilla is a good free option (we’ll use it for our screenshots and guide), but you can choose whichever program you prefer.
  • You must figure out the correct FTP login information for your account. We'll show you where to look in your FastComet account to find these. Otherwise, you can receive these details from your host. They are:
    • FTP Hostname: ftp.yourdomain.com (where you need to change yourdomain.com with your actual domain name).
    • FTP Username: The same as the cPanel username for your account.
    • FTP Password: The same as the cPanel password for your account.
    • FTP Port: 21

Make sure that you also configure your FTP client in Passive mode. We provide a number of tutorials on how to configure some of the most popular FTP clients. 

The process is straightforward, and if you follow the steps below, you should be all set:

  • Download the latest version of the plugin you need. Searching Google will be the quickest way to find your required plugin;
  • The plugin should be a .zip file, and thus you will need to extract its content;
  • Open your FTP client and connect to your website by entering its name, your username, and your password:
  • Once connected via FTP, go to your plugins folder (e.g., /wp-content/plugins/, or /joomla/plugins/). Each plugin that you have installed has a folder;
  • Right-click on the plugin you need to overwrite → select Rename;
  • Change the name of the plugin to ‘pluginname-old’, or similar.

While you can always just delete the old plugin right away – renaming it ensures that you still have the files readily available in case something goes wrong. Once you verify everything works, you will need to delete the old version, though.

  • Download your renamed folder to your local machine in case you need it. Backup is always a good practice.
  • After you’ve downloaded the plugin, you may delete it from your website:
  • Inside your FTP client, go to the Local section, and then locate the plugin that you have previously downloaded manually.
  • Install the latest version of the plugin.

The FTP client will transfer the plugin folder to your website. When that’s done, go to your admin dashboard and activate your plugin. Here’s a WordPress example:

That should be all you need. Now you can check if the plugin is working properly and if your site is intact. 

Then, as long as you don’t see any bugs, you can delete the old folder from your server using your FTP application.

Note:
You may see the plugin listed twice on your Plugins tab until you delete the old folder. This is normal and will go away once the old folder is deleted.

Your plugins should now be completely up to date! And, because nothing you did affected the WordPress database, all of your plugin's settings should be preserved following the upgrade.

Conclusion

If something stops working after you've updated a plugin, you can always roll it back by removing the -old suffix from the folder you downloaded to your machine and re-uploading it to your site.

It's critical to keep everything up to date on your website in order to keep it secure. This comprises the core of your CMS or application, as well as plugins and themes.

Of course, if something goes wrong and you are not aware of how to manage it on your own, or if you need any hosting-related help, you can turn to FastComet’s team of technical support experts. Just open a new support ticket and explain what you need to be done, so they can further investigate the issue for you.

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