This tutorial is part of our WordPress Management tutorial series. In this tutorial, you will learn how to create a system on your hard drive for keeping all of your downloaded WordPress backups, plugins, updates, and themes organized and archived for fast and easy retrieval.
WordPress Maintenance System – Getting Organized
Not all web server settings or hosting environments allow you to update your plugins and WordPress application automatically. If you need to manually update your plugins and new versions of WordPress, it is important to have an organized system on your hard drive for downloading and archiving your WordPress plugins, updates and themes.
Also, keeping your WordPress downloads folder organized will help you quickly and easily locate older versions of WordPress updates and plugins if you ever need to reinstall these.
The second part of getting organized (how to keep your data and file backups stored safely and securely) is covered in another tutorial.
WordPress Maintenance System – Getting Organized: Step-By-Step Tutorial
Complete the steps below to create a system on your hard drive for keeping all your downloaded WordPress backups, plugins, updates and themes organized and archived for fast and easy retrieval:
Create a folder in your hard drive called “WordPress” and add the following subfolders inside your “WordPress” folder:
- wp plugins
- wp updates
- wp themes (optional – use this folder to store different WordPress themes)
- latest-plugins (optional – create this folder if you manage multiple WordPress sites)
- “Data Backups” folder (to store backups of your data and files) Note: this folder doesn’t have to be in the “WordPress” folder, it can be anywhere in your hard drive.
Your WordPress folder structure should look like this …
Updating WordPress Plugins
The process below will help you stay organized and save you time, especially if you need to manually update your WordPress software and plugins …
Create a folder for each plugin used in your site inside your “plugins” folder:
Each time you download a new plugin update, create a new folder (use the update version number as the folder name) inside the main plugin folder, and download your updated plugin zip file into this folder:
Locate the plugin folder and unzip (uncompress) the plugin:
To extract files from a zipped compressed folder in Windows:
- Locate the compressed folder.
- Right-click the compressed folder, and then click Extract All. In the Compressed (zipped) Folders Extraction Wizard, specify where you want to store the extracted files.
- Most Windows-based PCs have a built-in extraction utility. If your system doesn’t have this, consider using an extraction utility like Winzip. Winzip is available for Windows and Mac users.
Mac Users: Go here to learn how to unzip files
(Optional) If you are managing multiple WordPress sites, then copy the unzipped plugin folder you have just downloaded containing the updated plugin files …
… and paste it into the “latest-plugins” folder to replace the older version of the plugin in that folder.
If you need to perform manual updates to multiple WordPress sites, a “latest-plugins” folder containing all of the latest updates of your plugins will help to considerably speed up your maintenance and upgrading process.
Updating WordPress Software
WordPress has a built-in function that lets you automatically update your site to the latest version. Some server settings and hosting environments, however, will not let you perform automatic updates and trying to update WordPress automatically will lead to errors and failed upgrades.
The process below will help you stay organized and speed up your maintenance process – especially if you need to manually update your WordPress installation …
Downloading The Latest WordPress Version
The latest WordPress version can be downloaded a number of different ways. You can download it by visiting wordpress.org …
Or from inside your WordPress administration area …
Each time you download a new version of WordPress, create a new folder inside your “wp updates” folder. Name the folder with the new version you are downloading (e.g. “WP 3.2.1.”), then save the new WordPress version zip file inside this folder:
Once you have downloaded the new WordPress upgrade file, extract (unzip) it into the same folder …
Open the unzipped folder and delete the “wp-content” folder from the your upgrade file …
Important: Deleting the “wp-content” ensures that you cannot accidentally overwrite your plugin or theme settings when you update your WordPress site to the latest version.
After deleting the “wp-content” folder from the file, compress (zip) the file again …
The latest version of WordPress is now ready to be uploaded to your site.
Note: In the above screenshot, you can see that there are two “wordpress” folders inside the latest version folder:
- Use the uncompressed file if uploading the contents of the folder via FTP.
- Use the compressed (zipped) file if uploading the contents of the folder via cPanel.
Both of these options are covered in separate tutorials.
Use the “wp themes” folder to store all of your WordPress theme files …
For more information about WordPress themes, including where to find professional FREE themes for your WordPress site(s), go here: WordPress Themes
Getting Organized – Video Walthrough
The 2-part video series below walk you through the tutorial described above.
WordPress Maintenance: Getting Organized – Video Tutorial Part 1
WordPress Maintenance: Getting Organized – Video Tutorial Part 2
After creating a system for keeping your WordPress plugins, installation updates, themes, and data backups organized for easy access and retrieval (in case you ever need to restore your data or reinstall your site), the next step is to learn how to set up an offsite data backup storage system.
To learn how to set up an offsite data backup storage system, see the tutorial module below:
"If you're new to WordPress, this can stand on its own as a training course and will stay with you as you progress from beginner to advanced and even guru status." - Bruce (Columbus, Ohio)