A common misconception about updating themes in wordpress

Usually updating a software means replacing the old files with the new ones, but there is a better way to do it when it comes to WordPress themes.

WordPress treats two version of the same theme as different themes. That is, if you have SWIFT v5.1 and v5.1.1 in your wp-content/themes folder they are treated as two different themes independent of each other.

That means you can have multiple version of the same theme installed on your blog. So whenever there is a new version of your theme available, instead of replacing or deleting the files of the older version follow this procedure.

  1. Download the new version of the theme onto your computer.
  2. If the folder name of the new version clashes with the old version, rename the folder of new version.
  3. Upload the new version to your wp-content/themes folder via FTP or through the interface provided by your web host or by using the upload feature in WordPress.
  4. Activate the new version from your dashboard.

The main advantage of following the above procedure is you can quickly switch back to the old version of the theme if you find any problems with the new version or if it clashes with any plugins you are using.

19 Replies to “A common misconception about updating themes in wordpress”

  1. Hello there

    I was wondering if you could help.

    I have a site that I use as a CMS instead of a blog.

    I am using the Twenty Twelve theme, but what I did is to create static php pages (templates) with custom fields and assign those templates to the pages created inside the CMS.

    If I upgrade my WordPress, I assume that I lose all my css setting and the php pages that I created.

    I have everything backed up and if after upgrading WordPress, I upload my css and php pages, would everything be restored?

    I mean most of my pages in WordPress have a template assigned to them, would that setting be kept in place?

    Thanks a lot

  2. The issue with this is now all your internal urls to theme elements change. This is potentially bad for SEO.
    Wouldn’t the best option be to do the following.

    Old theme folder name – swift5
    New them folder name – swift51

    Upload the new one to your themes folder. Then switch the old theme name to swift5_old and the new one to swift5. Reload your site and it’ll be on the new theme with the same url paths avoiding any SEO issue.

    Thoughts on this?

  3. Cool. I actually did not know that fact.
    Does this mean, in our hosting, we will have like themes/themexxxv1 and themes/themexxxv2 if we install two versions?

  4. Or you can just use the Easy Theme and Plugin Updates Plugin. I love it!

    PS thank you for the Swift theme! I’m using it right now for a client’s site, and it has ALL the options of a paid theme that I’m using for another client!!

  5. Satish- I am trying to install Google Adsense on my site – I have the searchbox in fine on the right sidebar, but where do I put the code for the search results??
    Please help!!!

  6. Great theme, Satish.
    If you use the WordPress upload feature, do you still have to do Steps 1 and 2? (i.e. do you have to download the new theme to your computer?)
    The reason I ask is because I just upgraded to the latest version through WordPress’ built-in feature and although I received a warning prompt “You will lose all of your customised features”, I actually didn’t lose any of them.
    Mind you, I only have a couple of posts on this new site so maybe I didn’t notice.
    Also, Question 2:
    I can’t seem to get some of the options to work under Swift Options –> Header and Archive Pages: the last 3 tick/check boxes cannot be ticked or checked.
    I managed to get “display excerpts on homepage” to tick after I set “homepage full content posts” to “0” but the description on “homepage full content posts” suggests to me to be an option for full content posts underneath the scrolling summary posts (therefore they should not be conflicting options.)
    Your thoughts?

    1. If the folder names are same, you will get a error message and the theme will not be installed. If the folders names are different, it will be installed without any problem and you can safely skip first 2 steps.

      Use firefox, I dint spend time in checking the cross browser compatibility of the backend.

  7. my page order plugin causes a fatal error when used with Swift…Just tried it with another theme and it works fine but with swift it cause a huge conflict.

  8. I do this everytime, it’s a good way of updating.
    But I’m getting a “White Screen” and It’s only in firefox. Cleared Cookies, Cache, disable all plugins, etc.
    I’m re-downloading the theme right now

    1. I just installed Swift and am getting a white screen with Firefox only also. I think it’s related to the DISQUS plugin.  I am trying to find help from both Satish and Disqus. I disabled Disqus and it works fine now.

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