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Normal Theme Update Process

The WordPress theme update process is very simple. Download the zip file from the themeforest, unpacks the zip file in a temp directory, delete the old version and moves the new version to the wp-content/themes directory. There is no “Undo” button if there is anything wrong. Any modification (or customization) to the templates file are lost as well. But settings and theme options are stored in the database. Normally they are not changed during a theme update. If you have a copy of old version, you can restore the old version easily using FTP

Better Way to Update on Production Site

You can use some File Management tools (e.g. filezilla FTP). Most hosting companies provides web-based File Manager accessible from the control panel of the hosting account. From there, you can upload theme update. Let’s use Real Homes – WordPress Real Estate Theme as an example:

  • Step 1: Locate the realhomes theme in the wp-content/themes directory.
  • Step 2: Rename the realhomes theme directory to realhomes-old.
  • Step 3: Upload the newly downloaded realhomes theme from themeforest to wp-content/themes directory. Check your website if there is anything wrong. If everything looks fine, you can leave the realhomes-old there and delete it later.
  • Step 4: If you want to change back to old version, go back to the File Manager and wp-content/themes directory.
  • Step 5: Remove realhomes directory
  • Step 6: Rename the realhomes-old to realhomes. Now you are back to old version.

Change Log

Before updating theme, make sure to read the change log. If the new features or changes are not relevant, you should consider skipping the update.

Merging with Your Changes

Check out if your theme comes with a change log text file as part of the main theme package that you have downloaded from themeforest. That change log text file contains a list of files added, modified and removed in each version of the theme. So, you can use that list of files as a reference and manually replace those files into your existing theme. If you need to merge an existing file with a new file, for example main css file of the theme then you can use a tool like http://www.diffchecker.com/ to check the difference and a tool like http://winmerge.org/ to merge both files.

Using Child Theme for Future

Almost our every theme comes with a child theme included as part of the main theme package and we recommend our customers to use that child theme and make all future changes in that child theme. This way you can easily update parent theme whenever the new updates becomes available. As, We always try to keep our themes up to date and we also keep adding more and more features over the time.