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How to Update WordPress Theme

IMPORTANT:

Any time you upgrade WP or a theme or a plugin, you do so at your own risk. Please backup your sites before making such upgrades.

The instructions below are a guide for upgrading to a newer version of a theme. Please understand that everyone's site is different. You have your own plugins (usually many), your own content, your own customization, and your own personal settings. So there is no such thing as a guide that works for everyone.

  1. Backup Your Site

    There are many plugins available to back up your site. Here are some of them:

  2. Backup Your Theme Options Settings

    Since you are updating your theme, it is expected that you will want to have the same Theme Settings (or Theme Options) selected on your current site. If your current have ability to Backup Options, create a backup. If your theme doesn't have this setting or using the older framework, please do the following:  

    1. Open a new text file ( .txt extension, not .doc)
    2. Copy all your theme settings / theme options one-by-one into the text file. This would include the following (and anything else):
      • url of your logo
      • style you are using
      • urls to your rss feed, facebook, twitter, feedburner, etc.
      • categories assigned to each content area
      • tracking / analytics code
      • ad code
      • etc.
    3. Save the file

    Now you have a backup of your theme settings / configuration which is useful for future reference.

  3. Backup Widgets

    If you upload the new update with the same folder name, you don't need to do this step. All the widgets settings and location will be carried over once you update the theme. If you renamed the theme directorr, drag and drop all active widgets to the Inactive Widgets area. All the widgets setting will be saved, so they can easily be re-applied.

  4. Backup Customizations (if applicable)

    If you have made any code additions (hard-coded) or other customizations, please manually synchronize it into the update files. You can use a free software WinMerge to merge the changes.

  5. Deactivate All Plugins

    To ensure that plugins do not interfere with the upgrade of your theme, please deactivate ALL plugins. You can re-activate them after the installation is done and all settings have been re-applied.

  6. Install New Theme 

    There are 2 solutions:

    1. One easy solution is to simply delete the old theme first, and then upload the new theme. (Make sure you have a copy of your old theme on your computer in case something goes wrong with the new theme.)
    2. If you are uncomfortable deleting a theme, then another option is to rename the newer version while it’s still on your computer, and then upload it. In order to rename the newer version, follow these step:
      1. Unzip the newer version on your computer
      2. Once unzipped, open the folder, and you should find another folder.
      3. Rename this inside folder. You can just add “new” to it (e.g. “mytheme-new”).
      4. Copy or move this newly renamed folder OUT of the other folder it was in.
      5. Once you have your newly renamed folder out of the old folder and by itself, zip it.
      6. Upload this newly renamed folder via the theme section in your admin area.
    3. When you follow this second method, you should now see two themes with the same name but with different version numbers. Whichever you choose, make sure you backup the WordPress database and Theme Options settings.
    4. Re-Apply Theme Settings

      Go into Appearance ==> Theme Options ==> and go through EACH and EVERY setting one at a time. Copy and paste your theme settings back into the corresponding input areas.

    5. Re-Apply Widgets

      Go into Appearance ==> Widgets ==> and re-apply the widgets you need.

    6. Re-Apply Customizations / Code Additions (if applicable)

    7. Re-Activate Plugins

      By this point, you have re-applied all settings. Go ahead and re-activate your plugins. If you have any issues after re-activating the plugins, then you can definitely attribute these to a conflicting plugin. Deactivate them and turn them on one-by-one to identify the plugin causing the issues. Remove that plugin. We do not edit third-party plugins. For plugin-related questions, please refer to the plugin author's documentation.