How to recover from a failed WordPress update: If you’re running WordPress 3.7+, then the good part is that you don’t need to do anything to apply minor and security related updates. Most sites are now automatically able to apply these updates in the background. This means that if your site is running on WordPress 3.9, then you’ll be automatically updated to WordPress 3.9.1, 3.9.2, etc. But you’ll need to click on “Update Now” button for major releases, for example, you won’t be automatically updated from WordPress 3.9 to 4.0.

Before you update WordPress, it is always recommended to backup your site. Even the official WordPress help section recommends users to backup your site.

If you’ve created a backup then it would mean that you can restore your website in case of any issues. Of course, you should backup your WordPress database and also all the files and folders.

First of all you can run a few quick checks if these ones below fixes your site…

Easy fixes when WordPress update fails

If you’re presented with an update failed error, then it means that now is the time to delve deeper in this issue and fix it. Here’s what you can do if your core WordPress update fails.

Delete. maintenance file

First of all, delete the .maintenance file from your WordPress directory using FTP or using cPanel’s File Manager. Note that the name begins with a dot.

If ever WordPress update fails, then you’ll be locked out of your site and you’ll need to delete this file in order to get back to the Admin area.

Check file permissions

Sometimes because of some file permission issue, WordPress could not create the upgrade directory. If you get the error that states “Could not create directory” then ensure that the wp-content folder has proper 755 file permission, or you can also give 777 for a short time but do remember to change it back once you’ve solved the issue. Also deactivate all your plugins from the “Plugins” page.

Now you can try to auto-update WordPress again. If you’re still getting the same error, then delete the “upgrade” folder in wp-content, create it again and give 777 permission to the same folder. If it works now, then that’s great. Remember to change the permission back to 755, because having permission set at 777 is a big security concern.

Sometimes you might encounter permission issues because of your web host, and in such a case, you will need to create a support ticket with your host and try to resolve the issue from their end.

If the one’s above dont work then let’s try the ones below…



Determining if your WordPress site is stuck in maintenance mode is simple.  The easiest method involves browsing to the site homepage to see if there is a message similar to: “Maintenance Mode – SITE is currently undergoing scheduled maintenance.”  It is important to note that users cannot login to the site while it is in maintenance mode.

Fortunately, forcing WordPress out of maintenance mode is quite simple.  Follow these steps to recover your WordPress site:

  1. Connect to your site via an FTP client such as FileZilla.
    1. An FTP client is a software application installed on your computer which allows you to transfer files to your webhost.  FileZilla is a free, open-source FTP client.
  2. Once connected, open the main WordPress root directory.
  3. Delete the “.maintenance” file from the root directory.
  4. Refresh your WordPress blog in a web-browser to verify that your site is no longer in maintenance mode.
  5. Now, use the FTP client to open the wp-content directory.
  6. Delete the “upgrade” directory to clean out the failed update files.

Your WordPress installation should now be ready to use again.

How to recover from a failed WordPress update

Remember: Always back up your site before beginning any updates!

  1. Download the latest version of WordPress from and unarchive it (unzip it).
  2. Move the wp-content directory from the archive you just unzipped to your desktop (you may need it in a minute).
  3. Open up your FTP program and browse your server to find your WordPress installation. You’ll see a list of files and the folders wp-admin, wp-includes and wp-content if you’re in the right place.
  4. Upload the new version of WordPress to your server. If you’re asked, you do want to replace the existing files.
  5. Once all the files have finished uploading, go back to your WordPress admin and see if your site is now accessible. If all went well, you’ll may see a message indicating you need to upgrade to upgrade your database. Login and make sure your site is now working.

Last but not the least if your site is still down… try all of these below…

The White Screen of Death

Both PHP errors and database errors can manifest as a white screen, a blank screen with no information, commonly known in the WordPress community as the WordPress White Screen of Death (WSOD).

Before resorting to desperate measures, there are a number of reasons for the WordPress white screen of death:

  • A Plugin is causing compatibility issues. If you can access the Administration Screens try deactivating all of your Plugins and then reactivating them one by one. If you are unable to access your Screens, log in to your website via FTP. Locate the folder wp-content/plugins and rename the Plugin folder plugins_old. This will deactivate all of your Plugins.
  • Your Theme may be causing the problem. This is especially likely if you are experiencing the white screen of death after you have just activated a new Theme, or created a New Site in a WordPress Network. Log in to the Administration Screens and activate the default WordPress Twenty Sixteen Theme. If you can’t access your Administration Screens, access your website via FTP and navigate to the /wp-content/themes/ folder. Rename the folder for the active Theme.
  • Your Theme directory may be missing or renamed. This is common for developers who have just created a local development environment and cloned the database, which is pointing to a theme (or theme directory) that might be missing or renamed. To test this solution, try accessing wp-login.php or /wp-admin/. If you see anything, this is a good indication it’s theme-related. Log in as an administrator, then try to view the front-end and you should see a WordPress error message to the effect of: The theme directory “{theme-name}” does not exist. You can solve this in any n umber of ways, including switching themes on the admin side, renaming your directory, or editing the “theme” and “stylesheet” records in wp_options

The WP_DEBUG feature often provides additional information. If you are still experiencing problems and are looking in your error logs you can check out the PHP errors below for more information.

Internal Server Error



There can be a number of reasons for an Internal Server Error. Here are some thing you can do to solve it:

  • The most likely issue is a corrupted .htaccess file. Log in to your site root using FTP and rename your .htaccess file to.htaccess_old. Try loading your site to see if this has solved your problem. If it works, make sure to visit Settings Permalinks and reset your permalinks. This will generate a new .htaccess file for you.
  • Try deactivating all of your Plugins to see if it is a Plugin issue. If you are unable to access your WordPress Administration Screens, deactivate your Plugins via FTP by following these instructions.
  • Switch the Theme to the WordPress Twenty Sixteen Theme to eliminate any Theme-related problems.
  • Increase the PHP Memory limit
  • Try re-uploading the wp-admin and wp-includes folders from a fresh install of WordPress.

Error Establishing Database Connection

If you get a page featuring the message “Error Establishing Database Connection,” this means that there is a problem with the connection to your database and there could be a number of reasons for this. The following are possible reasons and solutions.


Incorrect wp-config.php Information

“Error establishing a database connection” is usually caused by an error in your wp-config.php file. Access your site in your FTP client. Open up wp-config.php and ensure that the following are correct:

  • Database name
  • Database username
  • Database password
  • Database host

Once upon a time, there were no automatic updates for WordPress so this was the primary method used. It could take hours to upgrade everyone if you had a lot of client sites you were responsible for.