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There are some rare cases, typically with some premium plugins, where updating a plugin in the WordPress dashboard doesn’t always work. This is where a manual plugin update comes in.

How to Manually Update Plugins in WordPress

In these cases, you need to manually update the plugin by uploading the file to your WordPress plugins folder on your server. It sounds a bit daunting, but I’ve broken it down here for you to make it as easy and straightforward as possible to manually update a plugin in WordPress.

The WordPress codex describes how to manually upload a plugin, but it’s pretty dry and not overly descriptive, and hence the purpose of this guide.

Before we start, make sure you’ve got the updated plugin file on your computer’s hard drive, ready to upload. The file should be in a .zip format. Some operating systems may auto-unzip files when downloaded, so make sure that is not the case here. Now let’s manually update that plugin!

For this example I’ll be manually updating a plugin called Ad Rotate Pro.

First, go to your WordPress dashboard under Installed plugins and deactivate the plugin.

1 - Manually update plugin in WordPress - deactivate plugin

Note: Don’t delete the plugin from here in the WordPress dashboard. While deleting most plugins from the dashboard won’t have any effect, some plugins may run a process to remove settings from the database, which we don’t want, otherwise you’ll have to create all your settings again when you reinstall it. By replacing the plugin files from the server directly, we avoid this from happening.