Update WordPress theme via FTP

Like every day, I start my morning with a coffee and a look in the email inbox. I am greeted gently with the notification that a new WordPress update for my WordPress theme can be downloaded. Yayy :).

Notification about WordPress theme update

Full of excitement, I go to the WordPress backend only to find that the update cannot be downloaded.

No updates in the WordPress backendBut no updates were shown in the backend, so the theme has to be updated manually

Save the current theme

Please only update your WordPress theme via FTP if you are using a child theme or have not made any changes to your theme’s code. For example in the styles.css. Otherwise, these changes may be lost when updating the theme.

Exactly for this reason, I recommend you to create a backup of your WordPress theme for the time being.

Variant 1: Create a backup via web hosting

Many WordPress hostings offer the possibility to create a backup quickly and easily in the backend. My WordPress website is hosted by Raidboxes: I switch to my WordPress box > Backups > Create a manual backup.

Create a WordPress backup on Raidboxes.ioAnd within 2 minutes, I’m able to make changes to my site.

Variant 2: Save theme in FTP

Alternatively, you can create a copy of your theme in your FTP folder. To do this, proceed as follows:

1. Access your website’s FTP directory (recommendation: Cyber ​​Duck)

2. In your WordPress directory, navigate to the “/wp-content/themes/” folder

FTP Path WordPress ThemePreviously

3. Rename your currently used theme to “themename-old”.

Rename WordPress theme in FTPAfterward

If something goes wrong in the next step, you can simply rename the filename back to the theme’s original name. The theme is then restored.

Manually update the WordPress theme via FTP

To manually install the new version of your WordPress theme, follow these steps:

1. Go to your theme’s developer page and download the latest version of the theme as a .zip file.

Download WordPress Theme Update via ThemeforestDownload a WordPress theme update via Themeforest

2. Unzip the theme on your hard drive. In the same directory there should be a folder with the name of your theme.

3. Go to the FTP directory of your WordPress website. Navigate to the “/wp-content/themes/” folder

4. Upload the new version of your theme.

Upload WordPress theme to FTPUpload WordPress theme to FTP directory

5. Check your website for display errors.

Congratulation! You updated your theme manually! In the best case, you will even receive a notification that the update was successful!

Update successful messageExample: The WordPress theme confirms the successful update

If there are display errors, you can simply delete the newly uploaded files and simply rename the “themename-old” folder to the original name of your WordPress theme.

Or you use the backup that you created just before.

Delete the old theme

In order to fully complete the update and ensure that our WordPress doesn’t carry any “garbage” around with it, we should remove the old theme.

Simply access the FTP folder of your WordPress website and navigate to the folder: “/wp-content/themes/”. Deletes the “themename-old” folder.

Delete old theme in FTPThe old theme can be removed from the FTP directory

Tip: If you have other unused themes, for example the WordPress standard themes, you can also remove these immediately.


What are the advantages of updating a theme via FTP?

You can keep the old version of your WordPress theme by simply renaming the theme directory. If you update via the WordPress backend, the old version of your theme will not be saved.

If I update via FTP, do I also have to update my child theme?

no A child theme is there so that you can make adjustments to the code without them being overwritten by an update. In rare cases, interfaces may have changed so that you will have to revise your child theme as well.

If I want to update my WordPress theme via FTP, should I backup the old theme?

Necessarily. Display errors can occur because settings have changed or the design of the theme has been updated by the developer. You can switch back to the old version at any time.

When should I not update my theme via FTP?

If you are not using a child theme and have made adjustments to the code of your WordPress plugin, for example in styles.css. These changes would probably be overwritten with an update.