5 different methods depending on your needs

If you’re having trouble with your WordPress site, one possible solution is to reinstall WordPress to make sure the problem isn’t caused by corrupted files. If you do it right, you can ensure that you have clean WordPress core files without affecting your existing content. If you want to start your WordPress site from scratch, you should completely delete your site and install a fresh copy of WordPress to start over.

Whether you want to completely reinstall WordPress or just reinstall the core WordPress software without affecting your existing content, we’ve got it all covered for you in this post.

The only thing we ask of you is, that you make a backup before using any of these methods. While the first two methods will help you reinstall WordPress without losing any content, it’s always a good idea to have a fresh backup just in case something goes wrong! If you’re a Kinsta client, you can quickly create a WordPress backup with a single click.

Once you’ve got your freshly created backup in hand, click below to jump to the tutorial of your choice:

How to reinstall WordPress while keeping existing content

The following three methods show you how to reinstall the WordPress core software, without interfere with your existing content:

On a slightly more technical level, this means that none of these methods will have any impact on your WordPress site:

Each method only reinstalls the core WordPress software.

How to automatically reinstall the WordPress core software from your dashboard

If you just want to reinstall the WordPress core files, you can do that directly from your WordPress dashboard (if you don’t have access to your WordPress dashboard, you should skip to the next section to learn how to do the same via can do FTP).

It’s amazingly simple. In your WordPress dashboard you go to the sidebar Dashboard → Updates. Then click the button Reinstall now:

WordPress dashboard updates area

Once you click the button, WordPress will automatically download and reinstall the latest version of WordPress. You are basically just manually running the normal update process that WordPress does when you update WordPress from your dashboard.

It may take a few seconds – but once the process is complete, you should have a fresh copy of WordPress installed.

How to reinstall WordPress core software via FTP

If you are unable to access your WordPress dashboard due to an error (or simply prefer to work via FTP), you can follow a similar process via FTP. Basically, you’re manually duplicating what WordPress would otherwise do for you in the section above.

Here is the process in a nutshell:

  • Download the latest version of WordPress
  • Unzip the ZIP file
  • upload everything except the folder /wp-content/

Let’s go through each step in a little more detail…

First, go to WordPress.org and download the latest version of WordPress:

Download the most recent copy of WordPressDownload the latest version of WordPress

Once the download is complete, extract the entire contents of the ZIP file to your computer. delete then the folder wp-content.

Delete wp-content Delete wp-content

Once you’ve done that, connect to your host via FTP and upload the rest of the files to the folder where you originally installed WordPress. Usually this is your root directory with the name public or public_html.

When you start uploading the files, your FTP program should prompt you with a message that says something like Target file already exists. If that happens, make sure you check the option overwrite select and continue:

Upload remaining files via FTPUpload remaining files via FTP

Since you wp-content If you already deleted folders, all WordPress core files will be overwritten without affecting your themes or plugins. Once the upload is complete, you should have a freshly installed copy of the WordPress core files and hopefully things are running smoothly.

Reinstall WordPress core via WP-CLI

You can also reinstall WordPress core via WP-CLI. WP-CLI is a command line tool that you can use to manage many aspects of a WordPress installation. It can add/remove users, posts, categories, insert test data, search and replace in database and much more. The following command would download the WordPress core without the default themes and plugins.

wp core download --skip-content --force

s more about WP-CLI commands.

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How to completely uninstall and reinstall WordPress

Important: If you follow this method you will lose all your existing content. This section is about uninstalling WordPress and installing a fresh, 100% blank copy.

This method will not preserve any of your existing content. Don’t follow it unless you want to completely wipe out your existing WordPress site. Basically you have to do this:

  • Delete all your existing WordPress files
  • Install a fresh copy of WordPress using your preferred method

If it sounds easy, then it is! To delete all of your existing files, you can connect to your website via FTP or, if your host uses cPanel, via the cPanel File Manager.

Select all files in the folder where you installed WordPress and delete them:

Delete current WordPress filesDelete current WordPress files

For the sake of cleanliness, you should also delete the existing database for your WordPress site, although you can use a new database even if you skip deleting the existing database. If your host uses cPanel, you can use your existing database in the panel MySQL databases delete in cPanel:

Delete database in cPanelDelete database in cPanel

Otherwise you can use phpMyAdmin to set the delete database:

Delete database in phpMyAdminDelete database in phpMyAdmin

Once you’ve deleted the existing WordPress files, all you have to do is install a fresh copy of WordPress, just like you would a brand new website. Depending on your host, you can do this:

Reinstall WordPress via your preferred methodReinstall WordPress using your preferred method

Once you’ve installed a fresh copy of WordPress, you can start building your site from a completely blank slate.

How to reinstall WordPress themes and plugins

While the above methods deal specifically with the WordPress core software, there may also be situations where you need to reinstall certain themes or plugins on your site. Thankfully, that’s pretty easy. Here’s the safest way to do it:

First, connect to your website via FTP and navigate to yours wp-content Folder. Depending on whether you theme or want to reinstall a plugin, you then either navigate to the themes folder or plugins:

Find wp-content folderFind the wp-content folder

Find the folder for the plugin or theme you want to reinstall. Then rename this folder and append “_old” to the end of the original filename:

Rename folder for desired plugin or themeRename folder for desired plugin or theme

At this point, you can install a fresh copy of the theme or plugin as you normally would. It should work exactly as before, retaining all your previous settings and configurations.

Once you’ve verified that everything works correctly with the newly installed version, you can go back to your FTP program and delete the old folder:

Delete old folderDelete the old folder after making sure things are working normally

Final Thoughts

The bottom line is that reinstalling WordPress is pretty easy. If you only want to reinstall the core WordPress software, you can do so either via:

  • Use the built-in WordPress update feature
  • Upload the latest copy of WordPress to your server, without the wp-content folder and the wp-config-sample.php file.

And if you want to start from scratch, all you have to do is delete your existing ones:

And install a fresh copy of WordPress using the method you prefer. To reinstall a specific theme or plugin, all you have to do is rename the existing folder via FTP and install a fresh copy.

Suggested reading: How to Install WordPress Locally.

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