Are you worried that deleting your WordPress theme will break your site? Wondering how to delete a theme without causing problems?
Deleting a WordPress theme is actually as simple as clicking a button on your WordPress dashboard. But this process doesn’t always go smoothly. It can even break your website rendering it blank.
While your website is down, you lose traffic, customers, and revenue. To avoid these issues, you need to use a safe method called staging for any major changes you make to your WordPress site.
In this guide, we’ll show you how to delete your theme safely. We also tell you everything you need to do before and after deleting a theme to ensure your website functions fine at all times.
To safely delete a theme on your WordPress site, create a staging site using a WordPress Staging Plugin like BlogVault. Delete your theme here and test your staging site to ensure your website functions correctly. You can then push the changes you made on your staging site to your live site. This is the safest and easiest way to delete a WordPress theme.
Why Delete A WordPress Theme?
If you’re anything like us, you’ve probably installed a couple of themes on your WordPress site to try them out. But this practice ends up cluttering your dashboard and your WordPress site. Ideally, you should keep only the theme you’re using and delete the rest. Here are the top reasons why you should delete a WordPress theme:
WordPress themes enhance the appearance and functionality of your website, but did you know that they are also one of the top reasons for security issues on WordPress sites?
Like any other software, theme developers improve their creations by adding new features or fixing bugs. Every time they enhance their theme, they release a new version in the form of an update.
Over time, vulnerabilities or security flaws may appear in the software. Hackers look for such vulnerabilities and exploit them to break into your website.
This is why it’s best to get rid of unnecessary elements on your WordPress site such as inactive themes and keep only your active theme.
WordPress is constantly being improved upon and updated. Developers of themes and plugins constantly tweak their software to keep it compatible with the WordPress core software.
There are times when you may notice that your theme is not receiving any updates. This could indicate that your theme’s developer has abandoned the theme and is not maintaining it anymore.
In other cases, you may have purchased a theme only to find out later that you have to pay to receive the updates. If you are unable to update your themes, it can lead to incompatibility and security issues.
If you have incompatible themes installed on your site, even if they are inactive, it can cause your website to break.
One of the simplest reasons to delete a theme is because you’re rehauling or revamping your website. In this case, you would want to switch to a new theme or a premium one and delete your old one.
As we mentioned, it’s extremely important to update your website as and when updates are available. The updates will fix any vulnerabilities and bugs on your site.
Every time you implement updates, you risk breaking your website. For future reference, we have an in-depth guide on how to update your website safely.
Now, updating inactive themes is an unnecessary process. It’s best practice to delete unused WordPress themes.
PRO TIP: If you find managing themes and plugins difficult, you can use a WordPress Management Plugin. From the dashboard, you can view available updates and implement bulk updates. You can also set up a staging website to test out updates first and only once you’re sure they work fine, you can implement them on your live website.
Now that we’ve covered the circumstances in which you can delete your theme, you also need to check whether deleting the theme will cause complications.
When Not To Delete A WordPress Theme?
There are certain situations in which you absolutely should not delete your WordPress theme:
1. Parent-Child Theme Dependency
Everyone customizes their WordPress theme when they build a website. When you update the theme, you stand to lose all your customizations. To overcome this issue, WordPress site developers create a child theme.
A child theme is exactly like your main theme, except that when you update your parent theme, you won’t lose any customizations.
Before you delete a theme, you need to ensure it isn’t a parent or a child theme. If you delete either one, you could break your site. You need to keep both themes on your site
2. Multisite Networks
If your website is on a multisite network, you may see multiple themes on your WordPress dashboard. It may be active on another site on the network. You need to make sure that no other website is using the theme before you go ahead and delete it. If you accidentally delete a theme, you could end up breaking another site on the network.
3. Test Themes
If you’re working with a team or a developer, check if they are using it to run tests on your website. If it’s being used to test things from time to time, you should leave it installed on your site.
Once you’re absolutely sure you can delete your theme, you can proceed to the steps below.
How To Safely Delete A WordPress Theme
As we mentioned, deleting or uninstalling a WordPress theme is risky. Be sure to validate the reasons for deleting your theme before you proceed.
To delete an installed WordPress theme, you can access your WordPress admin panel. Go to Appearance > Themes. Here, you can select the theme you wish to delete and delete it.
But this method can break your website. We don’t recommend it.
We’ve entailed the safest way to delete your WordPress theme. It involves a few more steps but it’s well worth the effort because it will make sure your website never breaks during this process.
Note: In case your website is already broken due to a theme conflict, you can still use the method below to regain access to your site and delete the theme.
To proceed with this method, you need a WordPress backup & staging tool that will facilitate the process. There are plenty of such plugins available in the market, but not all of them offer the same service.
We’ve chosen the BlogVault Backup and Staging plugin. It’s easy to use, fast, and reliable. Let’s begin.
1. Take A Backup Of Your WordPress Website
We’ve established that deleting a theme has the potential to break your site. Thus, it’s safer to take a complete backup of your website before we get started.
In case things go wrong, you can quickly restore your backup. The easiest and most reliable way to take a backup is to use WordPress Backup Plugins such as BlogVault. Here’s how:
Install and Activate BlogVault on your site. Access the plugin via the WordPress admin dashboard. Enter your email address, select backups, and Get Started.
In case you don’t have access to your WordPress admin screen, go to the BlogVault website. Create an account and install the plugin remotely. You can do this by entering your wp-admin credentials.
Next, BlogVault will sync with your website and take a backup of your site. Once done. We can proceed to the next step.
Step 1: Access the BlogVault dashboard, select your site and go to Staging > Add Staging.
Step 2: On the next page, BlogVault chooses the latest backup copy and php version by default to set up your staging site. Simply click on Submit and BlogVault will start creating your staging site.
Step 3: Once done, it will provide you with the staging site’s username and password. Make note of it, you’ll need it in the next step. The reason your staging site is password-protected is to keep the site private and inaccessible by visitors and search engines.
Proceed to Visit Staging Site.
Step 4: Your staging site will open in a new tab. Enter the credentials here to view the staging site.
3. Delete Your WordPress Theme On Staging Site
Step 1: Access the WordPress panel of your staging site. Add /wp-admin at the end of your staging site URL.
Enter the same wp-admin credentials as your live site.
Step 2: To delete a WordPress theme, go to Appearance > Themes. Here, you can click on the theme you wish to delete. You can also view theme details before deleting it. Click on the Delete button to remove the selected theme.
4. Test Your Staging Site
Check your staging site to ensure it’s working fine after deleting the theme. We recommend going to all the important pages of your website to check it looks and functions fine. Do a quick cross-browser and cross-device test to make sure your website is optimized for all the major browsers and devices.
After you’ve deleted the theme, and once you’re satisfied that your staging site is functioning fine, you can replicate the changes on your live site.
5. Merge Your Staging Site With Live Site
You don’t have to go back to your live site and carry out the steps of deleting your theme all over again. You can simply push the changes you made on your staging site to your live site.
Step 1: Go to your BlogVault dashboard, and access Staging. Here, you’ll have an option called Merge.
Step 2: Next, enter your FTP credentials. This will grant access to BlogVault to connect with your website’s server and merge your staging sites. If you don’t know your FTP credentials, use our guide on Finding FTP credentials or get in touch with your WordPress hosting provider.
Step 3: Select the folder in which your WordPress installation resides. This is usually called public_html, unless you have a separate folder for your website.
PRO TIP: You can identify your WordPress website’s folder by checking to see if it has three subfolders called wp-content, wp-admin, and wp-includes.
That’s it. BlogVault will merge the changes you made on your staging site with your live website. This will take a few minutes.
6. Things To Do After Deleting A WordPressTheme
Right after cleaning up your website, you can carry out a few optional steps to remove unnecessary content related to that theme.
- Go to the media library and delete any images and dummy content that came with the deleted theme.
- Access your WordPress folder via cPanel or FTP and ensure the theme folder is deleted.
- Check your menus and delete any related to the theme that you don’t need.
- Check for dummy content like posts from the developer or default blog posts.
- Remove any widgets inserted by the theme.
Once done, you can begin to test your live site.
7. Test Your Live Site
BlogVault will ensure it merges your changes without breaking your website. Even so, deleting a theme on your site is a major change.
We suggest checking your website to make sure everything is fine.
- We recommend checking all important pages such as your homepage, Cart & Checkout page, Blog, Feature pages, and any other pages that are critical to your site.
- Also, test out important functions such as any comment section, contact forms, calculators, and so on.
- Check your theme settings and make sure there’s nothing out of order.
- Run tests on all major browsers and devices.
- Run speed and loading time tests.
That’s it! You’ve successfully deleted a theme on your WordPress site without breaking your site.
If you liked our guide, you might be interested in knowing more about deleting themes. Read on!
What’s The Difference Between Deactivating And Deleting A Theme?
On WordPress, you can have only one theme active at a time. Any other theme on your website will be deactivated. This means whenever you activate a new theme on your site, your previous theme is automatically deactivated.
But the deactivated theme will still be installed on your site. All files and media of this theme will be present on your WordPress site. You can view the theme under Appearance > Themes.
When you delete a theme, you completely remove it along with its files and contents from your website. Once deleted, it will disappear from Appearance > Themes.
Why We Recommended Deleting Excess Themes On WordPress?
There are numerous benefits to deleting extra themes that are installed on your WordPress site.
1) Better Site Security
Hackers have a multitude of ways to break into your website. It’s important to note that hackers aren’t biased with the size or popularity of the website. They hack into any website they can and find a way to use it to their advantage.
Sometimes inactive themes may become vulnerable and it’s easy to overlook that an update is available for such inactive elements.
The lesser elements on your site, the better it is for your website’s security.
2) More Server Space
Your website is hosted on a web server that has limited resources. Every additional theme on your site uses up your server space. By freeing up space, you can add other essential plugins and media to your site.
3) Better Database Performance
Themes add data to your database when they’re active. Once they become inactive, the data remains in your WordPress database. Once you delete the theme, the data is erased.
4) Improved Site Speed And Performance
Your website uses server resources to serve your content to visitors and to run the functions of your website. Every additional element uses up server resources.
For example, when WordPress checks for updates, it queries every theme and plugin installed on your site, regardless of whether they are active or not. This will impact your site’s speed and performance.
5) Theme Updates Become Easier
Every time a theme needs to be updated, you risk breaking your site. We recommend using a staging site to run updates on your site.
Now, it’s very tempting to skip updates for inactive elements on your site, but it’s important to update every plugin or theme that has an update available. Skipping updates can make your site vulnerable to hackers and make it incompatible with WordPress.
And there you have it. That’s our guide and our recommendations to delete your installed WordPress theme.
Though there’s an easy way to delete themes on the WordPress dashboard, it isn’t always as simple as that.
A major change like deleting a theme has the potential to cause damage to your WordPress site. Taking a few extra steps such as backup and staging will ensure your site never breaks.
You can follow this protocol for all major changes such as updating your website safely or switching to a new theme. Always backup your website first and then use a staging site to test your updates and changes first. Then merge your changes with your live site! Using this method, you can ensure your website is always up and running for your visitors.
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