How to Upgrade to WordPress 2.5 from 2.3.3 or Earlier

Detailed step-by-step guide to upgrading from previous versions of WordPress

How to Upgrade to WordPress 2.5 from 2.3.3 or Earlier

by Christopher Heng,

WordPress 2.5 was released on 29 March 2008. If you run an existing WordPress installation, this article gives you a step-by-step guide to upgrading to this new version of WordPress from a previous version.

Update: Note that this article refers to a very old version of WordPress (though it was the latest version when I wrote it in 2008). It is not relevant for the current versions.

Detailed Steps to Upgrading WordPress

  1. Important: Do Not Use the Shortcut Upgrade Method

    Since 2.5 has many changes, it's best not to use the shortcut WordPress upgrade method I mentioned in another article. I'm not sure that it will work anyway, since the last time I checked the WordPress codex, they did not publish the list of files that have been modified.

  2. Download the New Version

    Download the current version of WordPress.

  3. Back Up Your WordPress Database

    Before you update your WordPress files, it's generally a good idea to make sure that all your backups are up-to-date. If you have been reticent about backing up your files, now is a good time.

    The ideal way of backing up your database is to use whatever backup method that your web host provides you for backing up the SQL database, be it phpMyAdmin or some other software.

    A quick and dirty way, that possibly doesn't back up every single detail, is to use the WordPress software's own "Export" facility to back up your posts and comments. You can do that by logging into WordPress, and going to the Manage tab, followed by the Export tab. This screen will allow you to download an XML file containing your posts, all the undeleted comments in your blog, as well as the URLs of each post and so on. If you are totally clueless as to how to back up your database, this is at least one way to make sure you have a record of all your posts and comments. That said, you should really find a way to either use phpMyAdmin or some such utility to download your complete database.

  4. Backup Your WordPress Files

    You should also log into your FTP account and download all your existing WordPress files. Please don't think that this step doesn't matter, since you have the old Wordpress 2.3.3 archive. Your existing files on your web server have customisations ("customizations" in US English) that the pristine 2.3.3 archive does not have. Customisations include your changes to the theme, your database settings, your uploads and even your plugins.

    We will be copying those customisations into the new 2.5 archive on your own computer, so you will need to have a copy of them. It's also useful to have a backup of the old working version in case something major goes wrong and you want to quickly revert to your previous working version.

  5. Get Updated Plugins and Deactivate All Plugins

    If you have installed any WordPress plugins, look for and download any updates for them. If you don't know what I'm talking about here, and you installed WordPress yourself, you probably don't have any plugins. Sometimes when there is a fairly major upgrade, such as from 2.3.3 to 2.5, the plugins have to be updated to take into account any changes. Note, though, that it may take some time after a new WordPress release for the plugin authors to update their software.

  6. Extract All the WordPress Files

    Extract all the WordPress files from the version 2.5 archive into a new folder on your hard disk. Call the folder whatever you like, but make sure it is a different folder from the backup that you made earlier.

  7. Copy the Customised Files

    Note: for this section of the tutorial, we are still working with the copy of WordPress on your own hard disk, not the one on your web host.

    You will now need to copy the files that you have customised earlier. This includes your customised themes, database settings, etc.

    Go to the "wp-content" folder of your current WordPress backup. You should be able to see three folders: "plugins", "themes" and "uploads".

    • Theme Files

      Open the "themes" folder.

      If you have a custom theme in the "themes" folder, you should be able to see a sub-folder with the name of the custom theme. Copy the sub-folder for your custom theme into a corresponding sub-folder in your WordPress 2.5 folder. This is the folder containing the files you extracted in an earlier step.

      Even if you have modified the "classic" or "default" theme in your existing WordPress installation, such as to hack the CSS file or header.php file or something else, do not simply copy those files into the 2.5 folder, since it's possible that those files have been changed in the new version. It is better to just make the same changes in the new files that you made in the old ones.

    • Uploads

      Go back to the "wp-content" folder.

      If you have an "uploads" folder in your current WordPress installation, copy the entire folder into the corresponding WordPress 2.5 folder.

    • Plugins

      Go back to the "wp-content" folder and open the "plugins" sub-directory. If you have a plugin other than "akismet" or "hello.php", either copy that plugin, or any updated version that you downloaded in a previous step of this tutorial, into the corresponding 2.5 sub-folder.

      Do not copy the "akismet" or "hello.php" files from the old installation.

    • The "wp-config.php" File

      Go to the main blog folder of your old installation. Look for a file "wp-config.php" and copy it into the corresponding 2.5 directory.

  8. Deactivate Plugins

    Log into your WordPress blog and deactivate all your third party plugins. You can always re-enable them again after upgrading. To do this click the "Plugin" tab after logging into your blog. Under the "Plugin Management" list, you should be able to see a list of plugins that your blog is currently using. You probably don't have to deactivate the plugins that come with WordPress, like Akismet and Hello Dolly, if you have enabled them, but it will do no harm to disable them if you wish.

  9. Upload Everything

    Start up your FTP program and log into your site with it. Then upload everything in your 2.5 folder to your site, overwriting all the old files and folders. You still have your earlier backup, so all is not lost if something goes wrong.

    During this time, your blog will not be accessible. Any visitor attempting to read a page on your site will probably receive errors.

  10. Run the Upgrade Script

    When you have finished uploading your site via FTP, run the upgrade script on your site. To do this, if your blog has a URL like, go to your web browser and type in

  11. Re-activate Plugins

    If you have previously deactivated your plugins, you can go back and re-activate those that are compatible with the new version.

  12. View Your Blog and Make a Test Post

    Check that you can view your blog without logging in. Then log in and make a post. You can always post that you have updated WordPress with the help of this article if you don't know what to say. This is necessary so that you can be sure that everything has been updated correctly.

  13. Make a New Backup of Your Updated Database

    Once you're sure everything is updated correctly, make a new backup of your database. Since the database format has changed in version 2.5, and you have just upgraded to 2.5, your old database backup is now obsolete. Keeping an up-to-date database backup is very important, since if anything happens to your web server, the MySQL server or your web host, restarting your blog again will be painless.

Congratulations. You have upgraded to the newest version of WordPress. Take the time to play around with it and you will see quite a number of pleasant visual changes.

Copyright © 2008-2020 by Christopher Heng. All rights reserved.
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