How to fix a corrupted WordPress installation

WordPress frequently releases updates, which you can install through WordPress’ admin interface. Usually, this works without a hitch. But with some (big) upgrades, the upgrade fails half way and leaves you with a broken website.

Fortunately, you can still fix your website without any data loss, and this article tells you how to do that.

Download a fresh copy of WordPress

First of all, you will need to download a fresh copy of WordPress. You can download this from the official WordPress website: https://wordpress.org/download/

From there, you can download a .zip file with the WordPress files. You will need to extract this archive on your own computer.

The archive contains a folder called wordpress that contains the files and folders of WordPress. Keep track of where you left this folder because you’ll need it later on.

Setup an FTP client and connection

To upload the WordPress files, you will need an FTP client and FTP connection. This article explains this in more detail: How to upload files with FTP.

You can use any FTP client you want, but we recommend to use FileZilla. It’s a free FTP client available for most popular operating systems, and most of our guides assume you’re using FileZilla.

Navigate to the folder of your website

In your FTP client, you need to navigate to the folder in your account that contains your website files.

If the website was the original domain of the account, then the folder is likely linked to the htdocs folder. For subdomains and addon domains added later on, there will be a folder with the name of the domain, which contains another htdocs folder that holds the files of that website.

You can find the folder of your domain through the Domains menu from the account page in the client area, or through the various domains sections in the control panel.

If you installed WordPress to a subfolder, you’ll also find your website files in the subfolder. For example, if your site is installed on example.com/blog/, then you’ll find

A WordPress website folder typically contains the folders wp-admin, wp-contents and wp-includes, along with various other PHP files, with most of their names starting with wp-.

Overwrite the WordPress files with the fresh version

When you’ve found the WordPress files of your website, it’s time to overwrite them with the files you downloaded from WordPress.org.

To do this, go back to the wordpress folder on your own computer that you got from the extracted zip from WordPress.org. Then, select all the contents of this folder, and upload them to the folder on your website that contains the WordPress files.

In FileZilla, this means that you should have the fresh WordPress files from the wordpress folder in the left pane (local files) and the WordPress files from your live site on the right pane (remote files). Then, copy all the files from the left pane, and drag them to the right pane to start the upload.

If you’re uploading the WordPress files to the right location, it should ask what to do with the files already there. You should select “Overwrite” and click the boxes to apply this action to all uploads.

In FileZilla, the bottom of the screen will show the upload queue. It can take a while for all the uploads to be completed.

Check the WordPress admin area again

After the uploads have completed, you can check the WordPress admin area again. It may contain additional information or steps needed to complete the upgrade. After completing these steps on screen, you should have a fully functional and fully upgraded WordPress website.

My recent experience was upgrading to WordPress 5.9, and somehow the upgrade failed, and site was not working. I found that the easiest way to get the upgrade done well, and back online in minutes, was to use the Softaculous icon in the control panel > WordPress, and it leads you through with a couple clicks. (Might have to push through some ‘this is a potential dangerous page’ messages from your browser.)

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