Update plugins

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The WP Engine Smart Plugin Manager automatically updates plugins installed on the Help site. However, there are times when automatic updates fail, requiring you to perform manual updates.

Plugin update options

While the WP Engine Smart Plugin Manager does a pretty good job of keeping our plugins updated, there are times when an automatic update fails.

When an automatic plugin update fails, you can manually update the plugin(s) a couple of different ways:

  • Manually update one or more plugins on the Plugins screen.
  • Manually update a plugin by downloading a zip file from the developer’s site and uploading it to the Help site.

Data retention

When manually updating plugins, there are times you will need to Deactivate and Delete a plugin before manually installing the updated version. If you have to delete a plugin, the important thing to note concerns data retention. Some plugins will retain data when you delete the plugin but others won’t.

Important: Always double-check if WP retains the plugin’s data before deleting it. If you can’t find out if deleting the plugin will wipe out its data, contact the plugin creator through their website before proceeding.

Pro versions of plugins almost always require you to also have the free version installed. Most—but not all—of the time, deleting and uploading an updated version of the pro version won’t affect data as long as the free version remains installed and activated. This differs from plugin to plugin, though, so you should still always double-check before deleting the plugin.

Update plugins

Tip: For additional information on adding new plugins and updating existing plugins, see WPBeginner’s How to Install a WordPress Plugin post.

To update a plugin, follow the applicable steps below.

Important: While a plugin is updating, the site is automatically put into Maintenance mode, which means it will be temporarily unavailable (usually 5-10 seconds per plugin).

Update a single plugin on the Plugins screen

To manually update a single plugin on the Plugins screen:

  1. On the Dashboard, select Plugins.
  2. On the Plugins screen, navigate to the plugin you want to update, and then, in the There is a new version of [plugin] available note, select update now.

    Note: While a plugin is updating, the site is automatically put into Maintenance mode, which means it will be temporarliy unavailable (usually 5-10 seconds per plugin).

Update multiple plugins on the Plugins screen

To manually update a single plugin on the Plugins screen:

  1. On the Dashboard, select Plugins.
  2. On the Plugins screen, complete the following steps:
    1. Select each plugin you want to update.

      Note: Each plugin with an available update will have an update note in its box.

    2. At the top of the screen, in the Bulk Actions dropdown list, select Update.
    3. To the right of the Bulk Actions dropdown list, select Apply.

      Note: While the plugins are updating, the site is automatically put into Maintenance mode, which means it will be temporarliy unavailable (usually 5-10 seconds per plugin).

Update a single plugin from a zip file

Every once in a while, a plugin won’t update on the Plugins screen for whatever reason. When this happens, you will need to download a fresh install of the plugin as a zip file on the developer’s site and then upload it to the Help site.

To update a single plugin from a zip file:

  1. On the site of the company that developed the plugin, navigate to the plugin downloads (usually under Downloads or Plugins), and then download the zip file of the latest update (or the version you want to install).
  2. In WordPress, either follow the specific instructions on the developer’s site or continue following the steps below.
  3. On the WordPress Dashboard, select Plugins, and then select Installed Plugins.
  4. On the Plugins screen, navigate to the plugin you want to update, and then select Deactivate.

    Warning: Before you delete a plugin, double-check with the developer that the plugin’s data will remain in the WP database after you delete the plugin. Most plugins keep their data in the database after deletion, but you should always check before deleting a plugin.

  5. Once the plugin is deactivated, select Delete.
  6. At the top of the screen, select Add New.
  7. On the Add Plugins screen, select Upload Plugin.
  8. In the file box, select Choose File, navigate to and select the zip file you downloaded, and then select Open.
  9. In the file box, select Install Now.
  10. Select Plugins, and then select Installed Plugins.
  11. On the Plugins screen, navigate to the plugin you uploaded, and then select Activate if it isn’t already activated.

Update Ajax Search Pro

The Ajax Search Pro plugin almost always fails to update on the Plugins screen, so you will need to:

When the Ajax Search Pro plugin fails to update:

  1. Try selecting the other update option on the Plugins screen (see steps below).
  2. Follow the instructions on Ajax’s documentation site.

To manually update the Ajax Search Pro plugin on the Plugins screen:

  1. On the Dashboard, select Plugins.
  2. On the Plugins screen, navigate to the plugin you want to update, and then, in the There is a new version of Ajax Search Pro available note, select Update Ajax Search Pro now.

    Note: While a plugin is updating, the site is automatically put into Maintenance mode, which means it will be temporarliy unavailable (usually 5-10 seconds per plugin).

If the above method fails, follow the instructions on Ajax’s documentation site:

Additional help

For additional information on adding new plugins and updating existing plugins, see WPBeginner’s How to Install a WordPress Plugin post.

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