For a WordPress website, it is very important to keep all the plugins and themes updated. It also helps you to avoid security issues and other vulnerabilities on your website. There are two ways to actually update a theme to its latest version.
Normal Theme Update Process
The WordPress theme update process is very simple. Download the ZIP package from the ThemeForest, unpack the zip file, delete the old version and moves the new version to the wp-content → themes directory.
This action is irreversible if something goes wrong. Any modification/customization to the template file(s) will be lost. Settings and Theme Options are stored in the database so you won’t lose them. 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 a File Management tool (e.g. FileZilla FTP Client which works both on Windows and Mac). Most hosting companies provide web-based File Manager accessible from the control panel of your hosting account. From the File Manager or FTP client, you can upload the latest theme. Let’s use Real Homes – WordPress Real Estate Theme as an example:
Login to the FTP using the FTP client.
Locate the realhomes theme in the wp-content → themes directory.
Rename the realhomes theme directory to realhomes-old.
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.
If you want to go back to old version, go back to the File Manager and wp-content → themes directory.
Remove realhomes directory
Rename the realhomes-old to realhomes. Now you are back to old version.
Before updating the theme, make sure to read the changelog. 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 changelog text file as part of the main theme package that you have downloaded from ThemeForest. This change log text file contains a list of changes added, modified and removed in each version of the theme. So, you can use that list of files as a reference and manually replace/adjust 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. We strongly recommend our clients to use the child theme and make all future changes in the child theme.
This way you can easily update parent theme whenever the new version is released. We always try to keep our themes up to date and also keep adding more features over the time.
If you still need further assistance or have a question then please feel free to open a ticket on our support site (login required):