How to Manually Update WordPress Themes and Plugins

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“Destination folder already exists.”


You’re trying to update a theme or plugin on your site, but WordPress tells you that folder already exists. Well, here’s the thing…

By default, WordPress won’t allow you to install a theme or plugin that is already installed on your site. It doesn’t matter if the version you’re trying to upload is newer or not.

This means you’d have to deactivate and delete the theme/plugin first and then upload the new version. This is doable, but it’s kind of a hassle (not to mention a little stressful).

However, thanks to one very helpful plugin, there’s a much easier way.

How to manually update with a zip file

UPDATE: Here’s a new video tutorial I published that outlines the steps.

Subscribe to Compete Themes on Youtube

I use a different plugin in this video, but both plugins work just fine.

As the name suggests, manually updating themes and plugins with the Easy Theme and Plugin Upgrades plugin is, well, easy.

Easy Theme Plugin Upgrades

You can install and activate it by visiting the Plugins menu, clicking the Add New button at the top, and searching for it by name.

This plugin works entirely behind the scenes, so it won’t add a settings menu or anything else to your dashboard. This can be a bit confusing because there’s no obvious sign that it’s working.

But it works very well!

With Easy Theme and Plugin Upgrades active, you can try uploading the theme/plugin zip file the same way you did when you first got the “Destination folder already exists” error message.

But this time, the theme/plugin will simply update to the new version.

Manual Theme Update

The plugin lets you know that the old version was backed up and removed. It also provides a download link in case you want to keep a copy of the previous version.

Just click the Activate link and the new version will be activated on your site.

This is way easier than deleting the theme/plugin first, and the process really could not be any simpler or smoother.


While the old way of manually updating themes/plugins was a hassle, the Easy Theme and Plugin Upgrades plugin makes it much simpler.

Also, if your themes aren’t updating automatically, consider trying some more modern themes 😉 All of the upgrades come with license keys and automatic updates via your admin dashboard.

If you have any questions or feedback about this post, please leave a comment below.

Ben Sibley
Ben Sibley
This article was written by Ben Sibley. He is a WordPress theme designer & developer, and founder of Compete Themes.