How to Reset WordPress: A Comprehensive Guide

Aug 30, 2023

WordPress is a versatile and popular content management system that powers millions of websites around the world. While it offers a plethora of features and customization options, there might be times when you need to reset your WordPress installation to its default state. This could be due to troubleshooting issues, cleaning up a cluttered website, or starting fresh with a new design. In this guide, we will walk you through the process of resetting WordPress step by step.

Why Reset WordPress?

Resetting WordPress can serve various purposes:

  1. Troubleshooting: If your website is facing persistent errors, glitches, or conflicts between plugins or themes, a reset might help resolve these issues.
  2. Testing and Development: Web developers often need a clean slate to test new themes, plugins, or custom code without any interference from previous settings.
  3. Cleaning Up: Over time, a website can become cluttered with unused plugins, themes, and content. A reset lets you start with a clean and organized website.
  4. Security Concerns: In case your website gets compromised, resetting it can eliminate any malicious code or unauthorized changes.

Before You Begin

Before proceeding with the reset, it’s crucial to create a backup of your website. This ensures that you can restore your website to its previous state if anything goes wrong during the reset process. There are several backup plugins available for WordPress, such as UpdraftPlus, BackupBuddy, and Duplicator. Choose one that suits your preferences and follow its instructions to create a backup.

Different Levels of Reset

WordPress resets can vary in their depth and scope. Depending on your needs, you can choose one of the following levels:

  1. Full Reset: This option erases all your website’s content, themes, plugins, and settings, essentially reverting it to its default state. This is suitable when you want to start completely anew.
  2. Selective Reset: With this option, you can choose to reset specific aspects of your website, such as plugins or themes, while keeping your content intact.

Resetting WordPress: Step by Step

Follow these steps to reset your WordPress website:

Step 1: Access Your Website Files and Database

  1. File Access: Use an FTP client (like FileZilla) to connect to your website’s server. Navigate to the root directory where WordPress is installed.
  2. Database Access: Access your hosting control panel and open phpMyAdmin or a similar tool to manage your website’s database.

Step 2: Deactivate Plugins

  1. Manually: In the FTP client, navigate to the “wp-content” folder. Rename the “plugins” folder to something like “plugins_deactivated.” This will deactivate all plugins at once.
  2. Via Database: In the database, locate the “wp_options” table. Look for the “active_plugins” row and empty its value. This deactivates all plugins.

Step 3: Reset the Theme

  1. FTP Method: In the “wp-content” folder, locate the “themes” folder. Rename your current theme’s folder. WordPress will automatically revert to the default theme.
  2. Database Method: In the “wp_options” table, find the “template” and “stylesheet” rows. Change their values to the default theme’s folder name.

Step 4: Empty the Database

  1. Database Cleanup: In the database, select all tables except for those with the “wp_” prefix. Drop (delete) the selected tables. This will remove your content and settings.

Step 5: Reinstall WordPress

  1. Manual Reinstall: Download the latest version of WordPress from Extract the files and upload them to your server, replacing the existing files.
  2. WP-CLI Method: If you’re comfortable with command-line tools, you can use WP-CLI to reset WordPress efficiently.

Step 6: Restore Default Settings

  1. wp-config.php: Open your website’s root directory and locate the “wp-config.php” file. Check if it contains any custom settings that might interfere with the reset.
  2. Permalinks: Visit the “Settings” > “Permalinks” section in your WordPress admin dashboard and save the default permalink structure.

Step 7: Reactivate Plugins and Theme

  1. Plugins: Remove the “_deactivated” suffix you added to the “plugins” folder name. Then, activate plugins one by one, checking for compatibility and issues.
  2. Theme: If you want to use a different theme, install and activate it from the WordPress theme repository.

Step 8: Rebuild Your Website

Now that your WordPress website is reset to its default state, it’s time to rebuild it:

  1. Content: Start by creating new pages, posts, and adding media content.
  2. Customization: Customize your website’s appearance using themes and plugins. Remember to only install trusted and reputable themes/plugins.
  3. Settings: Configure your website settings, including general settings, reading settings, and privacy settings.


Resetting WordPress can be a powerful solution to various issues and scenarios, but it should be approached with caution. Make sure to backup your website before starting the process and understand that a reset is irreversible without a backup. Follow the steps outlined in this guide to reset your WordPress website effectively and get a fresh start. Whether you’re troubleshooting, cleaning up, or beginning a new project, a well-executed reset can help you achieve your goals and maintain a healthy and optimized WordPress website.

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