How to Update WordPress in 4 Simple Steps

Instructions for Updating WordPress, Plugins and Themes

Step 1: Website Backup

Before updating your website take a backup of it. Refer to your hosting company for instructions.

Step 2: Update Your Theme

Depending on where you downloaded your theme from will depend on which of the following 3 actions you will take:

  1. In your WordPress admin, go to Appearance>Themes. You can update your theme by clicking the update link which appears on the theme icon. This is valid for any themes that were added by browsing the themes in Appearance>Themes.
  2. If you purchased your theme from a 3rd party site, you’ll more than likely have to manually update it. In this case follow the instructions from your 3rd party supplier.
  3. We always recommend purchasing a commercial template from  because they have amazing themes for WordPress. If you have one of these templates then continue reading below:

Update Your Theme Forest WordPress Theme

Using the Envato Toolkit Plugin will allows you to auto update any theme that you’ve purchased on Theme Forest. Download the zip file atEnvato Toolkit Plugin and install the zip file via Plugins>Add New in your WordPress admin. You’ll also need to create an API for the configuration by going to Settings>API Keys on the Theme Forest site and entering them into the plugin on your website as shown below (replace daffyduck with your own Theme Forest user ID):


Go to Envato Toolkit in the left menu when you’re logged into your WordPress admin section. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see which updates are available from In this case you’re looking for the GONZO theme. You’ll see a message like this if there’s an update available. Simply click the ‘update automatically’ link.


You will then see the following message. Just click OK as any customisations we have made have been made in a ‘child theme’ which will never be overwritten by template upgrades. NOTE: if your website hasn’t been created by Elan Creative then please check your site has been created with a ‘child theme’ before proceeding with this, otherwise you’ll lose any customisations to your website.


After the theme is updated just navigate away from that page. Do NOT click activate because the website is using a ‘child’ theme which allow your customisations to be seen.


Delete Old Theme

Go to Appearance>Themes and you’ll see that the old theme is now showing alongside the new theme. FYI the child theme is the one on the left with grey background. Note at the beginning of section 3 above the old theme was version 1.9.1 and the new theme is version 1.9.2. Click one of the themes with the blue background and check the version.


When you’ve found the template version 1.9.1 as below, click the delete link at the bottom.


Step 3: Upgrade WordPress

Before you upgrade WordPress make sure that your current theme, 1.9.2 in this case, is compatible with the next version of WordPress that you’re going to upgrade to.

Check for information in your WordPress dashboard for the next version:


Now go to the relevant theme page (in this case we’re looking at and scroll down to see what they say about their version compatibility. In this case we’ve just upgraded to theme version 1.9.2 which is compatible with WordPress version 4.0. Note that had you upgraded to WordPress 4.0 WITHOUT first upgrading the theme, you probably would have noticed broken layouts etc on the front end of your website.


How to Upgrade WordPress

Simply click the ‘please update now’ link.


Then click UPDATE NOW


Sometimes you’ll also see the following notice. Click the button to proceed.


Then finally click continue

Now check the front end of your website to make sure everything looks ok before proceeding to the next step.

Step 4: Upgrade WordPress Plugins

You’ll see how many plugins need updating from your admin Dashboard.


Click Updates and then select all plugins and click the ‘Update Plugins’ button.


Wait until you see that all plugins have been updated. This may take a while depending on how many / which plugins you have.

Now check the front end of your site again to make sure that everything looks ok.

WordPress Upgrade Problems?

Sometimes when you upgrade WordPress your site may break e.g. broken layout, missing styling, plugins no longer working etc. This usually only happens with a full version update e.g. from version 3 to version 4. Incremental updates normally don’t cause any problems e.g. version 8.2 to 8.3.

If your site breaks after you update it then restore it from backup and then contact us to ask for assistance. We will copy your site to our development servers, perform all updates and then fix all resulting problems. Once you’re happy with the upgraded site we will then follow these steps on your own live site.

Nina Young About the author

I studied mathematics at university, taught myself software development, honed my skills with multinational companies such as IBM and have set up and sold my own businesses. My perspective covers the all important period when a business moves from small and successful to substantial and market-leading, and my personal experience allows me to provide online solutions that give business leaders mastery of their online presence and control over business development.

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