Automatic updates to plugins and themes are nice as they keep your tools current and safe from exploits, in most cases. However, sometimes a new version of a theme or plugin can break certain aspects of your site. This is when rolling back plugins and themes in WordPress becomes useful.
Instead of trying to find a new tool that offers the same features, you can often simply revert back to a working version.
In this tutorial, I’m going to show you the easiest way to roll back plugins and themes in WordPress. It doesn’t require transferring files, coding changes or any other advanced website knowledge.
When Do You Roll Back Plugins and Themes?
Sometimes a developer will make mistakes during an update. Coding he or she puts into the tool may have the slightest error causing it to fail. And not everyone quickly catches these errors. A downgrade of a WordPress plugin or theme can keep your site stable until they fix the issue.
In some instances, developers will create “upgrades” to features which may not work for your purposes. Perhaps the tool is handling content differently than you’d like. Reverting these upgrades back to an earlier version may help keep the features you use.
The biggest downside to rolling back changes in WordPress is the risk of being attacked. In many cases, upgrades are deployed to fix exploits and security holes. They also address new hacking attacks and ways to take advantage of a site.
Using WP Rollback
Today, I’ll show you how to get old versions of WordPress plugins and themes using, “WP Rollback.” It’s an easy tool that works exceptionally well for reverting changes and setting your tools to an earlier version.
Install and activate the “WP Rollback” plugin.
This is one of those plugins that don’t have a specific screen for settings or tools on the left admin panel. Instead, it builds the rollback feature directly into WordPress.
Rolling Back Plugins
In your plugins screen, you’ll see the “Rollback” link appear next to “Deactivate.”
Click this link to roll back a plugin.
If there are previous versions available, you’ll see a list of them with radio buttons on the left. Select the version you want to use and click, “Rollback.”
A confirmation window will appear displaying your current version and the one you’re about to use. It also states how testing the changes in a testing environment are ideal before making the actual rollback.
This is because going back too far may make the plugin incompatible with new versions of WordPress. For instance, there have been many changes to WordPress over the years and plugins need to accommodate them on a coding level.
A tool from way back may not work at all in a current WordPress environment.
When you’re ready, click the “Rollback” button on the window.
You’ll see the plugin update screen displaying the results. Click the link to “Activate Plugin.”
Your plugin is now reverted back to an earlier layout.
Just keep in mind that the update icon and messages will be visible until you update the plugin to a current version.
Rolling Back Themes
To roll back a theme, it’s a similar process to plugins. A new option is available on in your Appearance area of WordPress.
Click the “Appearance” link on the left.
Click the “Theme Details” of the layout you want to roll back. You access this option simply by hovering your mouse of the theme itself.
Click the “Rollback” button on the bottom right.
The theme’s available versions become visible with radio buttons for you to click. Select the version you want to use and click, “Rollback.”
As with plugins, a confirmation window will appear. If you’re sure about making the changes, click the “Rollback” button.
Once WordPress has installed the earlier version, your theme is live. If this was a currently activated theme, you don’t have to do anything more.
What if you roll back a theme that is not currently active? If you want to activate the theme after reverting it, click the “Activate” link.
Understand Your Changes
I know that earlier versions of some tools either work better or keep your site stable. However, I cannot stress enough the importance of keeping your plugins and themes updated when possible to avoid security issues.
If you are downgrading WordPress plugins and themes because of a bad new release, keep your eye on developer fixes. Sometimes they catch problems in the same day.
How often do you use plugins that haven’t been upgraded in more than a year? Have you used an older WordPress theme because you liked the way it looked?
Author: Michael Brockbank
Michael has been in the tech industry in some form or another since the late 1990s. He’s built a variety of websites using HTML, Joomla and WordPress. Starting his freelance writing career in 2012, he’s completed thousands of projects world-wide covering a wide scope of topics. Michael is currently the Content Marketing Team Lead. Today, he manages a team of writers to create tutorials, blog posts and support content for customers. Outside of GreenGeeks, he manages a YouTube channel that helps others learn how to become freelance writers, bloggers and overall professionals.