WordPress Core Files Replacement Done Manually On A Live Site

Updated November 18th, 2018
Updated November 18th, 2018
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In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to safely replace all the WordPress core files on a live site. You may need this process if you encounter the ‘white screen of death’ since one of the best ways to fix that issue is WordPress core files replacement.

You can either watch the detailed video tutorial below or scroll below that to read the image/text version of the tutorial.

First you will need to log in to your site via file manager or via FTP. I’m going to use file manager.

Inside the file manager, open the public_html folder. That is where all of your website files are located and the file manager is still accessible even if your website isn’t.

In the video above I show you which files are the core files. If you want to check for yourself, the easiest thing to do is download a fresh copy of all the WordPress files from wordpress.org.

WordPress.org in the browser address bar

Click on the Download WordPress button.

Download button on WordPress.org

Second download button on WordPress.org

Unzip the file you’ve downloaded and you’ll see all the WordPress core files. Select everything except for the wp-content folder and the config-sample.php file. And make a new zip file (without those two). That’ll be the core files we upload.

Backup WordPress Core Files On The Server

In the file manager, create a new folder where you’ll upload the old core files on your site.

Backup the core site in a new folder

Select all of the core files (usually this is all files except for the wp-content folder and the config.php file. Then move all of the selected files into the folder you created a few moments

Move the files of the old site into the backup folder

Once you do that, instead of your website, visitors will see either a blank screen or a directory listing.

Broken website before WordPress core files transfer

To make the impact minimal you should do the core file replacement during low-traffic times and create a message saying you’ll be back in a few minutes. You can add a message by going back to your site’s directory and creating a file called ‘index.html’.

Add index.html file to replace broken site

Edit the file and enter a short message.

Edit the index.html file

Add text and save

Save changes, go back, and refresh your website.

Refresh the site

Index.html maintenance message appears

This process takes only a few seconds and it can improve your visitor’s experience.

Upload New Core Files

Now that you’ve set up a maintenance message, you find the files you downloaded and zipped on your harddrive a little while ago.

Compress new site files

If you’re doing this through FTP, you can upload all files without zipping. Since we’re using the file manager, we need to upload the zip file.

To upload the files using file manager, first we need to create a new folder.

Add a new folder on the server

Upload your archive to the recently created folder:

Upload the zip file you made

Once uploaded, go to the recently created folder and click on the ‘reload’ button:

Reload the folder contents

Now click on the zip file and then click ‘extract’.

Extract the zip file

Reload again to see the files.

Reload again to see files

These are all the clean core files. Select all of them and move them to the website’s root (public_html).

Move the files to the root folder

The last step is to remove the index.html file with the maintenance message. You can either delete the index file or change its extension to something browser’s don’t render. See an example in the screen capture below.

Deactivate the index.html file

Now go out to your site and ‘refresh’.

Refresh the site in the browser

If everything went well your site will now be back online.

Site is back online

Hopefully, your website works like a charm. If it doesn’t, remember that we’ve created a bkp folder with all the old core files. You can always go back to the older version if you’ve created more problems than you solved.

If you haven’t yet, make sure you watch the video above. Sometimes watching someone walk you through it helps.

For customizing your WordPress site further, make sure you subscribe to my WordPress Tutorials – WPLearningLab channel and click on the bell notification not to miss any of the useful WordPress tutorials.

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  1. Just now i tried with my old domain to clear some old WordPress core problems. all problems solved thanks for a clear video tutorial.

  2. Can you contact form 7 results on the same page or in another page just like a survey form?

    1. I’m sure it’s possible, but I haven’t done it before. You could probably use Javascript to save all the CF7 form inputs in a “session” when the visitor submits the form. Then redirect them to a page where Javascript writes all the session information to the page. It wouldn’t be a page that saved forever, it would work as long as their session is active. Does that sound like something you’re looking for?

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