Troubling With WordPress Auto Update?? Here is a Guide

17-05-2019 | 6 MIN READ

It is identified in a survey that 49% of the websites developed on WordPress are not even running on the latest version and it is a major concern for many of the companies as the auto-update facility of WordPress doesn’t work well sometimes.

The facility of automatically updating the WordPress core, plugins, and themes is a great advantage for all WordPress users. The latest versions of WordPress gets updated frequently and many of the users face difficulty to update it as ‘ fatal PHP error’ and the ‘installation failed’ message occurs. It intervenes the auto-update process and leaves the WordPress site on the current version. (For instance, if you are trying to update the WordPress version from 4.9.4 to 4.9.5 then it leaves the site on 4.9.4).   

If someone faces the same situation then getting back on track is a bit difficult, but don’t panic we are here to help, with a guide to revamp your websites’ functionality and ensure a proper WordPress update.

But before we start with the guide, We want you to make a note on something important that is ultimately related to your WordPress Auto Update and i.e. The Activation Key.

It is the most important element in WordPress auto- update. A valid Activation Key is required during the automatic update of the WordPress account. To check your activation key you have to log in to your account. If your activation key has expired, you may ask for the Activation key renewal.

Now let’s get started with “What to do when WordPress Auto-Update Fails”

Installation Failed Message

Once you begin the auto-update process of the WordPress core (say, from 3.1.0 to 3.1.1), the “Update WordPress” screen will start showing you the status of each step mentioned in the below screenshot:-

WordPress Update Failed

You can see in the above screenshot, ‘could not copy files’ error occurs just before the ‘Installation Failed’ message and the auto- update process for WordPress gets stopped automatically. But in some cases, things become worst and none of the messages are displayed on the screen. In other cases, there are chances that the user gets locked out from the website. When this situation occurs, the user tries to load the different pages like – admin, blog, login, etc of a WordPress account but every time, WordPress maintenance page gets open as an error.

It is quite frustrating and difficult to solve the issue when you are not able to log in to Admin. So, the FTP program is a great way to find the file in the root directory and then delete the .maintenance file. By using the FTP program, you can log in via the server’s control panel and use the file manager to find and delete the maintenance file.

Once you delete the .maintenance file from the root installation directory, the issue will resolve automatically and the user gets locked out from a website. Now you can easily access the admin panel and other sections of the WordPress Website. Once again, you might get a message that WordPress ‘auto-update failed’ – please try again later.

If you find such a message popping on your window, you have two options to choose from:

1.Continue with auto – updates

2.Update Manually

Even if you have decided to update WordPress manually, you still have to work with auto-updates in the future as it will be beneficial for the upcoming WordPress versions.

Consider yourself lucky if the WordPress Automatic update is successfully done in just a single try. But, sometimes the installation fails also.

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Files Permissions and Ownership

File permissions and ownership comes in everyone’s mind when we are talking about WordPress auto-updates. Try to use the same username/ ownership in all the required fields.

To check if this is the issue arriving during the auto- update, change the directory permissions to 777 (or CHMOD equivalent) and start the auto- update again. If it is working properly then the issue has resolved.

You must always use the most restrictive permissions in your WordPress account. To implement the correct file permissions, you have to do more researching and experiments with your host server. But once all the issues are resolved, you can use auto- update for future versions.

Disable Safe Mode

You have to disable Safe Mode on your WordPress website as it is one of the major reasons that AutoUpdate is not working. According to the PHP Manual, Safe Mode is to be considered the deprecate of  PHP version 5.3.0: Disabling Safe Mode is done in many ways. However, if you are unable to disable the safe mode via the server’s control panel.

You can use the snippet ‘safe_mode = Off’ in php.ini:


Below Code in your Apache configuration file:

<Directory /var/www/public>

php_admin_flag safe_mode off

Define FTP Variables in wp-config.php file

All the database related information is stored in the wp-config.php file in WordPress websites. Without having this information, the WordPress website would not work properly and it displays ‘error establishing database connection‘ error. To use the AutoUpdate feature for WordPress, you have to define the requisite (FTP) variables in the wp-config.php file.

Several variations are available on this technique so you have to frame your own set of definitions (variables) that suits your situation/ requirement.


Though WordPress automatic update feature is an extraordinary element that could spare us a ton of time and enable us to keep our site consistently refreshed, still it needs experts to lessen your burden. If you also want to refurbish your website then do comment below!

Also if you like this article then you will surely love our WordPress related services. As we are a Dedicated WordPress Outsourcing Agency that provides an end to end solution of all your WordPress Related issues, be it working from scratch or revamping your website.

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