WordPress is frequently updated to implement new features as well as fix bugs and security risks. Every now and then, you will see a notification on your blog’s dashboard which will request that you perform an update of the current WordPress instance that you’re using. The notification will look similar to the following:

Note: As of the writing of this tutorial, WordPress has just been updated to version 3.3.1. This number may be different by the time you’re reading this. The process, however, remains the same.

There are two ways to perform the update: automatic and manual.

In this tutorial, we will go over the steps to perform an automatic as well as a manual update.

Note: Before proceeding with a WordPress update, it is strongly advised that you backup your blog in case something doesn’t go as planned.

How to Perform a WordPress Automatic Update

From your blog’s dashboard, click “Please update now”.

In the following page, click “Update Now”

The next page will consist of a confirmation that your instance of WordPress has been updated.

And that’s all there is to it. Your have automatically updated your WordPress blog.

How to perform a WordPress Manual Update

WordPress can also be updated manually. The end result is exactly the same as with an automatic update. Please follow the steps below to perform a manual update.

1. Deactivate all your plugins

To do this, log in to your blog’s dashboard and click “Plugins”.

In the next screen, select all your plugins, pick “Deactivate” from the drop-down menu next the the “Apply” button, and hit “Apply”.

Note: If you have both active and inactive plugins, You may want to write down all of your active plugins prior to deactivating, so as to know which plugins to reactivate after the update.

This will deactivate all your plugins.

2. Download the new version of WordPress

You will need to download the latest version of WordPress. Head over to http://www.wordpress.org and click “Download WordPress X.X.X”.

Click “Download WordPress X.X.X” again in the next page.

Save the zip file to your computer.

3. Delete existing folders named “wp-includes” and “wp-admin”

Log in to your web host via your favorite FTP client, and delete the following folders from your current instance of WordPress:

wp-includes
wp-admin

4. Uploads the new “wp-includes” and “wp-admin” folders

Unzip the newly downloaded WordPress package and upload the new “wp-includes” and “wp-admin” folders to your web host using your FTP client.

5. Upload the files contained within the “wp-content” folder.

From the unzipped newly downloaded WordPress package, upload all of the individual files contained inside the “wp-content” folder to your web host (Do not upload the folder itself), and drop them inside the “wp-content” folder that already exists on your web host.

This process will overwrite all of the existing files with the same name. Do not delete the existing “wp-content” folder, or any of the files contained within, on your web host, only allow newly uploaded files to overwrite existing ones.

6. Double-check the “wp-config.php” file

Check the “wp-config-sample.php” file in your newly downloaded WordPress package to see if any new settings have been introduced in the new version. If so, add the new settings to your existing “wp-config.php” file.

Lastly, if the reason you’re doing a manual update is because the automatic update failed, then you need to delete the “.maintenance” file in your existing instance of WordPress; Otherwise, neglect this step.

7. Perform installation update

You are now ready to update your installation. Head over to http://www.YourDomain.com/wp-admin/upgrade.php) and follow the on-screen instructions.

Note: If your WordPress blog is installed in a sub-directory, go to: http://www.YourDomain.com/sub-directory/wp-admin/upgrade.php

8. Reactivate plugins

Reactivate the plugins that were active prior to the update.

Note: Some plugins may not be up-to-date with the new version and may not work properly as a result. If a reactivated plugin fails to work properly, then deactivate it and wait for a newer version of the plugin to come out. You can also contact the author of the plugin and ask that they create an update for it.

If there’s a problem with the performance of your blog after the update, you can always restore it back to its previous state by using the backup that you’ve created prior to the update.

If all went well, congratulations! You have performed a manual update of your WordPress blog.