Update a plugin with FTP

Updating or installing a WordPress plugin using FTP

1. What is FTP?
2. Why would I use FTP and not the update plugin button?
3. WooCommerce Extensions

What is FTP?

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. It’s a way for you to drag and drop files from your desktop to the server hosting your website. This is a great way to manage your files. Some hosting companies provide you with a web interface to drag and drop files, but that’s a limited and often cumbersome way to work with files. It’s best to use an FTP client.

Wait, what’s an FTP client and I still don’t know how how I do this.

Good question. An FTP client is a program you install on your computer that will connect to your server. There are quite a few options out there for doing this. From FileZilla to Transmit which I use on my Mac. Once you install the FTP client you will enter in the credentials provided by your hosting provider. Sometimes this is included in your welcome email and sometimes you need to request this from your hosting provider.

Once you have the credentials and the FTP program installed, it’s time to connect.

The credentials are most often in this form.

Server or IP
Port
Username
Password

Server or IP
The server or IP is where your site is hosted. Depending on how hosting is set up, this will look different. Sometimes it’s just your site’s URL. www.domain.blog. Sometimes it’s an ip address and sometimes it’s a custom URL.

Port
Don’t worry about this too much. If they don’t specify a port, then literally don’t worry about it. The default for most FTP programs is to use Port 21 and so you don’t have to do anything.

If your hosting provider say to use Port 22 then you will plug that in. Port 22 mean Secure FTP, or SFTP. Some FTP programs provide an input box for a port number while other may ask you to select whether the connection is SFTP or just FTP.

TL;DR
SFTP = 22, FTP = 21 (do nothing)

Username
This is a username

Password
This is a password

Click on connect and then navigate to wp-content/plugins/ where you will be able to add and remove plugins.

Why would I use FTP and not the update plugin button?

Sometimes uploading a plugin requires that you remove on old one manually, or maybe you want to keep the old plugin around just in case. Renaming the folder keeps the old plugin files, but allows you to install a new version.

This is also handy if you install a plugin and then your site crashes. White screen, PHP errors, etc. To get your site back all you need to do is rename or delete the plugin you just added and your site will return to normal. You can hopefully see how powerful it is to have FTP ready to go.

WooCommerce Extensions

WooCommerce now has a baked in Helper that connects to WooCommerce.com. This shows the status of your WooCommerce Subscriptions and when updates are available for your extensions.

Sometimes you may get a message that states “update package is unavailable”. This is most often due to server communication issues. Sometimes when a server tries to talk to another server, there can be intermittent network issues, or a firewall being too aggressive, and so on. The quickest way to get your update is to login to https://woocommerce.com/my-account/downloads/ and download the package yourself. Then unzip, upload and update.

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