Tutorial: What To Do When WordPress Auto-Update Fails

WordPress Auto-Update Failed
John P.

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.


  1. Andy says

    I had a similar problem to some of you here where the automatic update would stall or error out in some way. I found that the upgrade worked fine on all but one of our customers sites (all on same server with same permissions).
    The site in question had used 37mb of its 50mb quota. I increased this to 70mb and hey presto, the upgrade worked fine.
    I am assuming that the upgrade process requires a certain amount of disk space to upload the upgrade file and if its not there it will just fail.
    Hope this helps someone!

  2. Damon says

    I am in the same boat as a number of these folks. I have no trouble updating any of my plugins. It’s just when I do the Core update that it stalls at “Unpacking the update.”

    I have deleted the upgrade folder, but that did not fix the problem. I try a new update and go to th new upgrade folder it made and I can see all the files, seemingly unpacked.

    Any ideas?

  3. Dwight says

    This hasn’t fixed a failed auto update to version 3.0 from 2.9.2. I deleted the upgrade folder and the wordpress-3[x].tmp files that were in wp-content and it still stalls at ‘Unpacking the update’.

    I’ve never had problems upgrading anything before.

  4. Joel says

    Thanks alot. I was beating my head against the wall furiously trying to figure this out. Nothing was working. It never occurred to me that the problem would have been old data in the “upgrade” folder.

    After deleting this folder and re-installing 2.9.2 I was able to reinstall all of my plugins and my site is running fine now.

    Thanks again.

  5. Marley says

    Oh thank you, thank you, thank you!!! Not only was my WP failing to update but it was running super slow. That worked like a charm and now all is back to normal…. Phew!!

  6. says

    Very cool I have this exact problem. While deleting the upgrade folder allows me to auto update my plugin. I have to delete the upgrade folder every time I upgrade the plugins.

    Thanks for the tip very helpful!


  7. Gav says

    Jules, is is possible that your webhost has a firewall blocking the outward connection to wordpress.org? It might be worth asking them.

  8. Gav says

    Yesss! I’ve never been able to auto-update but this has fixed the problem :D Such a simple solution.. Thanks!

  9. john says

    Tnx for your tip. Didn’t work for me (although the upgrade dir was there).
    What helped me (2.9 -> 2.9.2 DE version hosted on 1+1) was adding
    AddType x-mapp-php5 .php
    AddHandler x-mapp-php5 .php
    to the htaccess.

  10. says

    Dude you just saved my life… I did backup my entire site before trying to upgrade in case the upgrade was going to fail (because it has before on me without a backup!)… But i didn’t realize it was going to be so easy to repair it!

    I got the whole “Down for scheduled maintenance error” and thought I was going to have to FTP my backup which would take like 30 minutes at least!…. But your solution fixed it in less than 30 seconds. Thanks! Your site was really easy to find too, first search result.

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