Tutorial: What To Do When WordPress Auto-Update Fails

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ve experienced many instances where the Auto-update feature in WordPress fails to update either a plugin or WordPress itself.

The solution to this problem is remarkably simple, and hopefully will be fixed soon by the WP core developers in an upcoming release. The problem seems to be caused by a messy previous upgrade in which files are left in a temporary “upgrade” directory with the wp-content directory.

WordPress Auto-Update Failed

In order to solve the problem, you simply need to delete the “upgrade” directory in it’s entirety and then try the upgrade again. I’ve yet to find an instance on several blogs across multiple machines where this didn’t solve the problem.

Article Written by
John P.

John P. is CEO of Livid Lobster and co-host of Geek Beat TV. You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.


  1. Andreas says:

    Thank you, this was the solution!

  2. wildwind says:

    Thanks for this!

  3. Ashley says:

    Thank you SO much! This post has cured my many hours of frustration after a failed upgrade to 3.6!

  4. sam trotter says:

    You saved me from a reinstall. Thanks a million.

  5. TNA says:

    Thank you.

  6. Robin says:

    Thank you so much. you saved my blog :)


  7. Thank you! I finally managed to fix it.

  8. leo says:

    I have all the permissions set to 777 but still it does not work for me

  9. leo says:

    I have tried to delete the upgrade file but it refuses to delete, also i found some files in the upgrade directory which also refused to delete. How can i change the permissions for this folder so as to be able to delete it

  10. Alex says:

    Thank you SO much! Worked like a charm. Was struggling for so long trying to figure out what the problem was. A Google search turned up a lot of the same solutions that didn’t work for me. Thanks for a new one :)

  11. TB says:

    Doesn’t work for me.

  12. Farid says:


    Thanks it works for me!

  13. Nancy says:

    It doesn’t work. I have tried every fix I can to get auto upgrade to work .. could it be because I am going from 2.84 to 3.42? I am a Drupal whiz, but very novice at WP and while I wanted to keep it that way, this client insisted on a WP blog so I stumble through whatever I have to .. it’s not very intuitive.

    Does this auto upgrade EVER work? Or do I have to figure out the manual thing .. dreading …

    I have tried about 10 times .. it always hangs on Unpacking the Download and going via FTP, I can see where much of it downloaded but apparently not all of it.. I have disabled the plugins .. checked the permissions .. everything I can think of to get it to work and it just doesn’t.

    Other ideas?


  14. Alan P. says:

    I tried deleting the “Upgrade” folder, but that didn’t work.
    What did work was going into my CPanel for the website and doing the upgrade with Fantastico. The WordPress was originally installed through that, and it had been years since an update had been done (not my department! LOL).
    Even though Fantastico was one or two upgrades behind, once it had done it’s upgrade thing, the WordPress updates could be done on their own, on the program, the themes, and the plugins.
    All is well now, thanks for the great ideas everyone.

  15. T-Rev says:

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I thought our site was toast when this happened, what an easy fix!

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