How to Rollback WordPress Plugin to Previous Version

Jul 27, 2020

How to Rollback WordPress Plugin to Previous Version

Jul 27, 2020

Did updating a plugin break your WordPress site? Or maybe you simply don’t like the new version.

Updates are often known to cause issues but trying to fix the issue might take a while. In the meantime, your visitors will see a broken site. You stand to lose traffic, SEO, and revenue.

But don’t worry, you can prevent this by reverting to the previous version of the WordPress plugin. That said, downgrading a WordPress plugin is risky and can damage your site further if not done correctly.

In this guide, we’ll show you the exact steps you need to take to rollback WordPress plugin update on your website using a WordPress rollback plugin and manually.

TL;DR – 

The safest way to rollback a plugin is to first create a staging site and test the process. Install the WP Rollback plugin on the staging site. Then, select the version you want to revert to and rollback the plugin update. Once you’re happy that the rollback process worked on the staging site, you can replicate or merge your changes to your live site.

 

Why Did A Plugin Update Cause Issues On WordPress?

Your WordPress website is built on an ecosystem of the core software, plugins, and themes. All three elements are constantly improved upon:

  • Developers regularly test their software for bugs and glitches, and fix any that are found.
  • When security flaws are discovered, developers fix it and release a patched version.
  • Developers also introduce new features and enhancements to improve speed, performance, and to keep up with technological advancements. 
  • And lastly, developers of themes and plugins also release updates to ensure their software remains compatible with newer versions of the WordPress core software. 

These fixes, patches, and improvements are rolled out in the form of an update or new version of the software. When you update the software on your website, the new version replaces the old one. 

Now, it’s important to keep all elements of your website updated. This ensures your website is running on the latest technology and the most secure version of the software. It also ensures that all the elements of your website are compatible with each other.

For instance, if you’ve deferred updating the WordPress core for a while, and then try updating a plugin, it might become incompatible and cause your website to break. This is because the new version of the plugin is designed to work with the new version of WordPress. It won’t function with the old version of WordPress that you are using on your website.

When your website breaks, it’s only natural to panic and try to find a way to remedy the situation immediately. That’s where a rollback plugin steps in.

PRO TIP: Rolling back an update isn’t a foolproof solution. If you’re unhappy with the new version of a plugin, the best option is to restore your backup to get your website back to its previous state. However, if you don’t have a backup, the next best option is to roll back the update and revert the plugin to the previous version. That said, remember a backup will revert your entire site to a previous version whereas a plugin rollback will only downgrade the plugin.

 

What Is A WordPress Rollback Plugin?

If you want to undo an update to a plugin, you can roll back to the previous version. It’s basically reversing the process of an update by replacing the new version of the plugin with the old one. 

The easiest way to undo an update is to use a rollback plugin. It automates the process and makes it as simple as clicking a few buttons. 

However, you can also manually rollback a WordPress plugin version. This is a risky method as it involves modifying your WordPress files, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. For instance, if during the update, you lost access to your wp-admin panel, you won’t be able to install a rollback plugin. In cases like this, you can attempt to rollback your update manually.

We show you how to use both methods. But before we begin, we’d like to touch upon when you should use the rollback plugin.

 

Things To Consider Before Rolling Back An Update

Can you be sure that rolling back your update will bring your site back to normal? Or would it cause more problems on your site? 

It’s important to understand whether or not you should attempt to rollback your update. Here are a few important things to check:

  1. Do you have a backup copy of your website before the update was implemented? If you do, restoring your backup copy would be a better option. It will rollback the update without causing any further issues.
  1. What are the details of the update you carried out? Check what the update contains. If the update carried a security patch, it isn’t wise to roll back. You could make your site vulnerable to hackers. 

 

View version details of plugin

 

  1. Check the compatibility details. This is a strong indicator of whether rolling back the update will fix the problem or not. If you see that the plugin is compatible with the version of WordPress you’re running, then rolling back might not solve the problem.

 

compatibility with plugin

 

  1. Check support forums to see if others are experiencing the same issue. There might be other solutions to fix the issue at hand. For example, if you updated a plugin and it broke your site, you may need to update your WordPress core to fix the problem. In this case, you don’t need to rollback the plugin update. 

Once you’re sure you want to roll back the update, you can proceed to the next steps. 

 

How To Safely Use WordPress Rollback Plugin Update

To undo WordPress plugin and theme updates, you can use a plugin called WP Rollback.

As we mentioned earlier, downgrading elements of your website has the potential to damage your website further. 

What if your website breaks or crashes during the roll back process?

To safely roll back a plugin update without breaking or crashing your website, you can create a staging site to test the plugin and the roll back process. Once you can see that the process has worked, you can replicate the changes on your website. This is the safest way to reverse an update. Let’s take a look at the steps.

1. Create a Staging site

2. RollBack The Plugin Update To The Previous Version

a. How To Rollback A Plugin Update Using A Plugin
b. How To Rollback A Plugin Update Manually

3. Test Your Staging WordPress Site

4. Merge Changes With Your Live Site

 

Important Note: We’ve detailed a safe method which involves using a staging site to test the rollback first and only then implement it on your live site. In case you decide to skip the staging site and carry out the change directly on your live site, we recommend that you take a backup copy of your website now before you carry out the rollback process. In case the rollback causes more damage to your site, you’ll have a copy of your website’s data that you can use to restore your site.

 

 

1. Create a Staging Site

A staging site is a clone of your live website. You can use it to run tests and experiment with new plugins, themes, and the like. Any changes you make on your staging site will not affect your live site. 

You can create a staging site with your web host or by using a plugin. We’ll show you how to create a staging site in under a minute using the BlogVault Staging Plugin.

Step 1: Install the plugin on your WordPress site. You can install the plugin from the WordPress repository. In case you don’t have access to your wp-admin, you can remotely install the plugin from BlogVault’s website.

Step 2: BlogVault will sync with your website to create your first backup. Once complete, on the dashboard, under Staging, select Add Staging.

 

Staging on BlogVault

 

Step 5: BlogVault automatically selects the latest backup. Click on Submit to create your staging site. When your staging site is ready, BlogVault will display a username and password. 

 

Blogvault staging site credentials

 

If you want to view your staging site, you’ll need to enter these credentials. The site is password-protected in order to hide it from visitors and search engines.

 

 

2. RollBack The Plugin Update To The Previous Version

Now that your staging site is ready to use, you can begin to safely test out the rollback process. You can use the staging site whether you want to use a rollback plugin or carry out the process manually. We’ve detailed both methods below:

A.How To Rollback A Plugin Update Using A Plugin

B.How To Rollback A Plugin Update Manually

 

A. How To Rollback A Plugin Update Using A Plugin

Step 1: On the BlogVault dashboard, go to Staging and click on the icon as shown below to visit the staging site.

 

visit staging details on BV

 

You’ll need to enter the login credentials provided on the same page in order to access the site. Now, you’re ready to start using your staging site. You can access your wp-admin console by adding ‘wp-admin’ at the end of the staging site URL.

 

Staging site URL

 

Step 2: Download and activate the WP rollback plugin on your WordPress staging site. Once activated, you’ll see the option ‘Rollback’ under every plugin, like so:

 

Rollback option on WP

 

Step 3: Click on Rollback under the theme or plugin you want to downgrade.

Step 4: On the next page, you can select the version you want to downgrade to. WP Rollback gives you the option to check the changelog. It has details of every version of the plugin or theme.

 

WP rollback view changelog

 

 

Note: If you’re not sure which version you were using before the update, unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t have an option to find out. If you have an activity log on your WordPress site, you can check the log to find the last installed version. 

Step 5: Once you’ve selected the right version, click on Rollback. 

Step 6: Next, you need to activate the plugin.

 

Update plugin on WP

 

That’s it. You’ve successfully reversed the update. You can jump to the next step of testing your staging website.

 

2. How To Rollback A Plugin Update Manually?

You can undo a plugin update by replacing the new version with the old version of the plugin by modifying your WordPress files.

However, any time you tamper with your WordPress files, you risk damaging your website further. We strongly recommend using this method only if you cannot use the WP Rollback plugin.

Step 1: Download The Previous Version Of The Plugin 

To downgrade the plugin manually, you need to get a copy of the previous version of the plugin. 

  1. If the plugin is available in the WordPress repository, visit the plugin section on WordPress.org. Here, search for the plugin you want to downgrade. 
  1. Next, go to Advanced View and scroll to the bottom of the page.

 

Advanced view on WordPress

 

  1. You’ll see Advanced Options where you can download previous versions of the plugin. Select the version you wish to rollback to and download it.

 

Download old version of plugin

 

  1.  A zip file will download to your computer. To make the next steps easier, create a folder called plugin on your desktop. Move the file to this folder and unzip it here.

If the plugin is not available on WordPress.org, you’ll need to visit the plugin’s dedicated website and download the previous version from there.

Step 2: Get Your Staging Site Details 

Go to the BlogVault dashboard, select your site, and under Staging, click on the arrow.

 

Visit staging site

 

Inside, you will find the details of your staging site. Make note of your SFTP details – username, password, host, and port number. You’ll need it later.

Step 3: Connect To Your Website Using FTP

Your website’s files reside on your web server. To connect to your web server, you can use a software called File Transfer Protocol (FTP). It enables you to make a connection between your local computer and your remote web server so that you can access your files and make changes. 

  1. Download the FTP client FileZilla and install it on your computer.
  1. Open FileZilla, you’ll see that it has two panels side by side called Local Site and Remote Site. The left panel is your local computer. Open the plugin folder you created on your desktop and keep it ready. 
  1. Here’s where your staging site’s SFTP details come in handy. To establish a connection with your web server, you need to authorize the connection first. Enter the SFTP details provided by BlogVault – host, username, password, and port number. FileZilla will establish a connection with your server and your website’s files will populate on the right panel.

 

FTP credentials on FileZilla

 

  1. On the right panel, select the folder called public_html. Inside, you’ll see three more folders called wp-admin, wp-includes, and wp-content. Open the wp-content folder. 

 

public_html in FTP

 

  1. Inside wp-content, select the folder called Plugins. You’ll see all the plugins you have installed on your website. Open the folder of the  plugin you want to downgrade. 
  1. Copy all the files of the previous version of the plugin from your local computer on the left. Right-click and select Upload. 

 

Upload plugin files in FTP

 

A pop-up window will appear asking if you take action as the target file already exists. Select Overwrite and Apply to current queue only, and click on OK.

 

Overwrite files in FTP

 

The old version will replace the new version by overwriting the files on your website. That’s it. You’ve successfully rolled back your update.

 

3. Test Your Staging WordPress Site

As we mentioned earlier, rolling back a plugin update doesn’t always fix problems on your website. So once you’ve rolled back the update, we recommend visiting your staging site to check if it is functioning fine. Here’s our checklist of things you should check:

  1. All important pages such as your homepage, contact page, cart and checkout page, and about us.
  2. Make sure all plugins are working properly.
  3. Test input fields such as appointment forms, contact forms, and comment boxes. 
  4. Check widgets, navigation, and sidebars.
  5. Test your WordPress website’s speed.
  6. Carry cross browsing and device testing.

You can fix any issues you find here and make sure your staging site is functioning correctly. Once you’re convinced that the rollback is successful, you can proceed to recreate the same steps on your live site.

 

4. Merge Changes With Your Live Site

Once you’re completely satisfied with the changes you’ve made on your staging site, you can recreate the process on your live site. But this is time-consuming and prone to error. 

If you want to skip recreating the changes on your live site, you can push your changes from staging to live using BlogVault’s Merge feature. 

This will ensure any changes you made while testing your staging site are also recreated on your live site. 

Step 1: Visit the BlogVault dashboard and select Staging. 

Step 2: Select Merge to Source. 

 

Merge to source

 

Step 3: On the next page, BlogVault displays a list of all the changes you made. You can choose to merge all changes or select the changes you want to merge to your live WordPress site. 

Step 4: Next, in order to merge your staging site with your live site, BlogVault requires permission to access your website’s server. Enter the FTP or SFTP credentials of your live website. If you don’t know your FTP credentials, contact your web host or use our guide to Finding Your FTP Credentials.

 

FTP details on BV

 

Step 5: Select the folder which houses your WordPress installation. By default, this folder is public_html unless you’ve created a separate folder for your website. 

BlogVault will automatically push the changes you made on your staging site onto your live site. 

It will only take a few minutes and that’s it! You’ve safely rolled back a plugin update. 

We recommend visiting your live site and checking important pages and functions to ensure all the changes have been implemented and that your website is functioning fine.

 

 

Final Thoughts

Updating your WordPress site is as simple as clicking a button. But after facing this ordeal of rolling back the update, you’ll know that updates don’t always go smoothly. 

We have a detailed guide on How To Safely Update Your WordPress Site so that you never have to face this issue again. The best way to carry out any major changes on your websites, such as updates or installing new plugins and themes, is to first test them out on a staging website. When you’re sure the changes work, you can merge the changes to your live site.


Update Your Website Safely Using BlogVault’s Staging Solution.

 

 

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