This article is written based on my recent experience. My friend recently started facing issues with the WordPress website after recent WordPress 5.6 update.
The WordPress version upgrade was set to automatic which was successful but it broke the website theme. The theme developers did not push new update quickly to fix the bug. Therefore, we started looking for another alternative but failed. Unfortunately, the backup my friend had taken was very old.
Finally, I decided to check the possibility of downgrading WordPress version back to the older one. Thanks to search engines and all those authors who had written articles on how to downgrade WordPress version, tried couple of options now which worked well.
In this article, I will provide options & steps on how to downgrade WordPress version without loosing data and theme settings.
Option 1: Downgrade WordPress version using WP Downgrade plugin
The WP Downgrade plugin allows you to downgrade WordPress version and also control version for the next update. I found this plugin very simple and easy to use.
Step 1: Install WP Downgrade plugin
Install WP Downgrade plugin from plugins options and activate it. Backup your website home directory and database.
Step 2: WP Downgrade plugin settings
Click on Settings option present in main menu and got to WP Downgrade. The page will display details as in below image:
By default the WordPress Target Version would be set to the latest version and Current WP Version would be your websites current WordPress version.
Provide the WordPress version you wish to downgrade in WordPress Target Version and click on Save Changes. For example, in below image WordPress version 5.5.3 has been provided.
Posting saving changes, you will receive notification to go to Updates option for performing version downgrade.
Step 3: Downgrade WordPress version
On clicking Updates option from main menu, the below details as in image will be displayed. On looking carefully I am now getting an option to re-install WordPress version 5.5.3 i.e. to rollback WordPress version from 5.6. Click on Re-install Now option to begin with downgrading WordPress version.
The downgrade will take around 5-10 minutes depending on several factors. After successful downgrade, the Updates option will show the current WordPress version as 5.5.3. Empty all cache in case if you are using any WordPress cache plugin or CDN.
Re-install WordPress using WP Downgrade:
To re-install current version then switch to another version and start the re-install activity.
Return to WordPress updates channel using WP Downgrade:
If you wish to get regular updates from WordPress then go to WP Downgrade settings and remove the version from WordPress Target Version, keep it blank and save the changes.
Option 2: Downgrade WordPress version manually
In this option, we will discuss the steps to manually downgrade WordPress version. Before that, make sure you have hosting account file manager write access, FTP client and FTP account login details. Many web hosting providers provide different control panels like cPanel, Plesk to manage hosting account. Some web hosting providers like GoDaddy, Bluehost provide custom control panel. Using these control panel, you can create FTP account and also manage the files.
Step 1: Backup existing website
Take backup of WordPress installation folder located on the server including database. Deactivate all the plugins and log out from WordPress admin panel.
Step 2: Download WordPress setup
Download the previous WordPress release version that you want to downgrade from official WordPress site and extract the archive.
Step 3: Connect website hosting using FTP
Connect to your server hosting account using FTP client and navigate to the website home directory where WordPress installation is present. Then delete wp-admin, wp-includes folders only.
Note : Do not delete wp-content folder else you will loose all your uploads, plugins and themes data.
Step 4: Overwrite WordPress
Upload & overwrite all the files and folders except wp-content folder and wp-config file from the recently downloaded WordPress setup that you want to downgrade.
Step 5: Post downgrade activities
After successful upload, accessing your website or login panel may prompt for database upgrade. Proceed with the database upgrade and login into the admin panel where you will find the downgraded WordPress version. Activate all the deactivated plugins one by one. Verify if website is working as expected and activate cache plugin & CDN. Flush all cache from plugin and CDN.
In conclusion, you can either use plugin or go with manual way to downgrade your website WordPress version.
It is not recommended to stay longer on old WordPress version considering security and features pushed to the latest WordPress releases.
Happy WordPress downgrading!