How to Disable Themes or Plugins Using FTP

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Here’s the scenario: You’re updating a plugin or theme. Harmlessly, you hit the update button next to the plugin and wait for the plugin to update. Once it’s done updating, everything seems fine…until you refresh your page. At that point, you realize you just got kicked out of the backend and there is a blank page all around.

What? You thought the update would be useful, but now your site won’t load. Not even a little bit. None of the backend admin pages load, none of the front end pages load.

So what now?

What do you do? You can’t access your backend. You can’t login. So how do you get should get into your site. The first step is of course don’t panic. Everything is going to be just fine. You can manage every plugin and theme from your FTP access.

Use FTP To Disable Your Plugins

FTP Stands for File Transfer Protocol and there are many ways of administering FTP access. Your host will have your FTP information. All you have to do is ask them for the credentials and they should provide it for you. Follow these steps to access your FTP via a client called FileZilla. Your host can provide all these details for you. How_to_Disable_Themes_or_Plugins_Using_FTP_FileZilla

  1. Download Filezilla
  2. Open the Software
  3. Click on File–>Site Manager
  4. Enter your IP for your host or your FTP address (usually
  5. Select the port number, leave blank for automatic
  6. Select the Protocol (either FTP of SFTP)
  7. Select the Encryption Type
  8. Select “normal” for the login type
  9. Enter your username and password for the FTP login. This is typically the same as your cPanel login.
  10. Connect to your site

How_to_Disable_Themes_or_Plugins_Using_FTP_Unknown_CertificateSometimes FileZilla will prompt you and ask you if you would like to accept an unknown certificate. Accept it and you can mark it to always trust that certificate. This happens a lot with GoDaddy.

If you entered everything correctly, you should connect and see a

Connection_Successful__connecting_via_FTPDirectory listing of "/" successful message


Once you’re in your FTP you can easily disable any plugins or themes by simply changing the name. In order for you to disable any plugin or theme for your WordPress install, simply change the name of the file folder. Your themes and plugins can be found in the wp-content folder. You’ll find it under the Plugins or Themes folder in  wp-content. 

As soon as you change the name of the folder that is causing the issue,  WordPress will automatically disable the theme or plugin. If it’s a theme it’ll revert to a default theme.

cPanel_File_Manager_WP_Soar You can also access your FTP by accessing  the file manager on your cPanel admin panel. The process and directory is the same. This is, of course, assuming you have cPanel installed and not Plesk or other server admin backend.

Of course, this technique doesn’t only stop with the plugin updates. Any WordPress errors, or blank pages you may encounter, can be resolved simply by changing the name the theme or plugin.

Because it’ll become unrecognized, it will be disabled. And therefore it will not be integrated into your WordPress install. Since is actually not integrated with your WordPress, there’s no way for the problematic theme or plugin to be loaded. It doesn’t actually register on the front end.

This technique works for all PHP, and database errors or anything else that may be causing you a headache with WordPress. A lot of the time you can just disable the problem. And the problem is usually a plugin.

Once you fix the problem theme or plugin,  you can reactivate it. Just keep in mind at all times you always have control over your WordPress install. There should never be a moment when you, as an admin, are locked out of your own WordPress backend.

When have you had to disable a theme or plugin that was causing you issues? What were the issues? Please comment below.

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Yury Vilk


Yury is a web entrepreneur, owner and founder of WP Soar. His expertise is in WordPress, Internet Marketing, and PPC. He has been working on the web since 2006 helping businesses achieve their online goals.