How to upgrade wordpress theme without losing customization?

Updating your website’s theme to the latest version is highly recommended, because it ensures that you have all the latest features and to be up-to-date with any security patches. Generally, updating your theme wipes out all the customization. Before making any changes on your site or updating your theme, make sure you back up your site, so in case something goes wrong you can easily revert it back to normal.

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There are various methods to do the same without losing the customization you made to it. So, let’s get started.

Back up your theme files:

Before we get started, you need to back up your database and your current theme. Since we’re replacing and updating theme files, there’s a chance something could go wrong so it’s best to play it safe and have a backup. But always make sure that your site is always stored in a safe of site location.

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Updating the themes automatically:

Generally, whenever a new version of your theme is released, you will be automatically notified to update theme to latest version. WordPress 3.7 allows you to automatically upgrade your theme without having to update manually, so you can make sure that you always use the latest version. This automatic update feature will only work for the themes that are downloaded from wordpress official theme directory. If you’re using wordpress themes downloaded from a third party website, make sure you follow their instructions for updates.

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Uploading and replacing an existing theme:

Most of the theme providers require you to manually upload a new version of a theme and replace an older version in order to upgrade it. If you are trying to upload a new version of a theme that is already in your themes directory, it will fail and you’ll get an error message telling you to the destination folder already exist. The obvious reason for this error is due to the fact that you can’t have two folders in your themes directory with identical names. There are some simple solutions for this:

  • Rename your old theme. This will allow you to successfully upload the new version of theme.

  • Delete your old theme present and then upload a new version. Make sure you make a backup of the old version of your theme just in case something goes wrong.

Now let’s see various methods to upgrade your theme without losing your customization.

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1.Using a child theme:

Updating your theme automatically is the easiest way to ensure that you get the latest version of your theme with enhanced functions and most importantly security fixes. It is not recommended for you if you are not using a child theme and made all customization on your parent theme. One of the biggest benefits of using wordpress is that it is very flexible out-of-the box, so you can easily enhance its features by simply adding a code snippet to your functions.

In order to enhance the features, most of the beginner wordpress users simply tweak their parent theme files by directly customizing the CSS files. This is actually a wrong practice to follow. If you update your theme, you’ll lose all tweaks you made to it. Secondly, automatic updates can even make your site broken.

The solution to all these problems is by using a child theme. If you are using a child theme, you can make any customization on it without touching the parent theme, so you don’t lose anything while updating the parent theme. Even if you are not a developer, you can easily learn how to create a wordpress child theme. Not everyone will require a child theme, if you are planning only for making slight changes to your CSS files, you can either create a custom CSS file or install and use a plugin like custom CSS, so you don’t need to create a child theme. If changes are extreme, it is better to create a child theme.

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2.Preserve tweaks if you’re not using a child theme:

You are not currently using a child theme and did customization on your parent theme already, how do you preserve the customization even after updating it? One of the simplest solutions available is copy your tweaks and paste it to your latest theme after updating it. The main problem here is, you don’t always identify all the tweaks you made, now how do you identify it and replicate it to your new theme? You can simply identify the changes by comparing the current theme with the latest theme. Once you identified it, you’ll need to copy and replicate it to your new theme.

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3.Updating your wordpress theme to preserve the tweak:

To do this, you should first download your current theme and latest theme to your computer. From wordpress dashboard, you cant download your current wordpress theme by default. You’ll either need to have an FTP access or need to use WP file manager plugin. If you’re using a file manager plugin, you can download the theme directly from your wordpress dashboard. After downloading your current theme, you’ll need to download the latest version of your theme from the official wordpress directory. After that, compare your current theme with the latest version. Now compare and copy the tweaks. That’s it!!! Once done, verify whether the tweaks are retained on your site and everything works fine.

Make sure you back up your content and data base, so you won’t lose anything even if something goes wrong. If you have any queries contact us at At Libra web solutions we successfully transformed around 80 ecommerce ventures for customers from UK, Australia, India, Hong Kong, Singapore since 2008.

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Written by

<p>Uma is content writer, webmaster, avid reader of new technologies, business automation & Virtual Support specialist at Libra Web Solutions</p>