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WordPress 3.0 – Complete Upgrade Tutorial

wordpress logoWordPress has just released the newest version – WordPress 3.0 “Thelonious”. The new version is available for download from the official wordpress website, or you can just get the latest wordpress zip file from this direct link.

Whats New in WordPress 3?

There are quite a number of nifty feature and improvements in this new WordPress 3 series. I have highlighted some of the important ones below:

WordPress MU Merges with WordPress — The multi-user project WPMU and WordPress is becoming one! This will make creating sub-sites via sub-domains or sub directories very easy going forward.

Set custom username & password during installation — In WordPress 3.0 you will be able to choose your own username and password, instead of accepting the auto-generated “admin” as your default user, which was irritating and an easy target for any hackers.

New “Twenty Ten” wordpress default theme — WordPress 3.0 is now using “Twenty-Ten” as default theme to take full advantages of current WordPress features. Bye Bye Kubrick theme.

Custom post types — In previous versions of wordpress, only posts or pages could be added to a WordPress blog. But the good news is in this new version of WordPress, users will be able to set up common post taxonomies (or tags) and templates pages such as videos, quotes, products etc. This feature won’t replace the categories and tags however this will be a very handy way of organising posts and very useful for those who blog a lot. As WordPress’s Jane Wells puts it: Custom Post Types + taxonomies = Better CMS.

Improved Look & Feel — WordPress dashboard is now more snappier and has on screen help on every single page.

Support of Canonical plugins — Don’t you get annoyed when you find a plugin that you really want and then you realize that the plugin is no longer supported by it’s original author? Well not anymore as Canonical plugins has now been introduced meaning that a community develops a plugin rather than an individual.

Support for Bulk updates — Finally a way for you to update all your plugins in bulk!

Custom menu management — WordPress 3.0 now allows creation of custom menus combining posts, pages, categories, tags, and links for use in theme menus or widgets.

Support for custom background image — In WordPress 3.0 you’ll be able to upload a background image and make some basic changes to its settings within the admin interface.

You can read the complete feature list of WordPress 3.0 from the official wordpress site.

How to: Upgrade to WordPress 3.0

If you are coming from an old version of WordPress and want to upgrade to WordPress 3.0 there are a few options for you. Since WordPress 2.7+ there is an automatic upgrade feature. You can launch the automatic Update by clicking the link in the new version banner (if it’s there) or by going to the Tools -> Upgrade (or Update for version 3) menu. Once you are on the “Update WordPress” page, click the button “Update Automatically” to start the process off. You shouldn’t need to do anything else and, once it’s finished, you will be up-to-date.

If for any reason the automatic update doesn’t work for you then you have to go for a lengthier manual update. To manually update your wordpress installation follow the steps below:

Step 1: Replace WordPress files Get the latest WordPress file – Simply unpack the zip file and delete the old wp-includes and wp-admin directories on your web host (via FTP). Later upload the new WordPress files to your web host, overwriting old files.

NOTE – you should replace all the old WordPress files with the new ones, including those in the root directory like index.php, wp-login.php and so on. Simply copying the contents of the zip you downloaded over the top of your existing files should achieve this. Make sure you copy all the sub-directories as well. Don’t worry – your wp-config.php will be safe. Be careful when you come to copying the wp-content directory. You should make sure that you only copy the files from this directory, rather than replacing your existing wp-content directory. This is where your themes and plugins live, so you will want to keep theme.

Step 2: Update your installation – Visit your main WordPress admin page at /wp-admin. You may be asked to login again. If a database upgrade is necessary at this point, WordPress will detect it and give you a link to a URL like http://example.com/wordpress/wp-admin/upgrade.php. Follow that link and follow the instructions. This will update your database to be compatible with the latest code. You should do this as soon as possible after step 1. And that’s all!

Things to Remember before you Upgrade to WordPress 3.0

  • Just assume that things are going to break (it always does!). Thus, before upgrade make sure that your plugins support the latest version of wordpress. If it doesn’t and you have already upgraded then reversing the whole thing would be a troublesome job. Before upgrading disable all your plugins and re-enable them once the upgrade is complete.
  • Don’t even touch your wordpress files if you don’t have a full backup or at least a recent backup of your database (which contains all your posts & comments). Backing up wordpress regularly is very essential and you should just do it anyway. If you want an easy way to backup your wordpress database, I would highly recommend the plugin: WP-Db Backup. It automatically backs up your wordpress database everyday and sends it to you via email. Another new cloud backup service is – Backupify (which currently has wordpress support).
  • Ask yourself if you really need to upgrade right away. With every new WordPress release there are always bugs & security holes which are sometimes missed by the developers on a test environment. So its always good to wait for few weeks/months before you are certain that no big exploit has been found on the particular release that you plan to upgrade to.

Questions? Please ask them on twitter – @saadkamal or post them in the comments below.