Reset WordPress

Resetting WordPress - how to do it and what you should look out for

Your website no longer runs as it should? The last WordPress update has destroyed your entire site ? Or you experimented with themes and plugins and got bogged down? Then you might be thinking about starting over and resetting your WordPress. If that's the case, you've come to the right place. In this article you'll learn when it's worth restarting your WordPress project and how exactly you can reset WordPress.

Why should you reset a WordPress website?

First of all, let's take a look at the moments when it's even possible to reset a WordPress installation (or at least parts of it). After all, such a reset is quite a drastic measure - and usually you do (almost) everything so that the painstaking work on your own website is not lost. In some cases, however, a reboot can be quite useful and necessary.

These are the most common scenarios at a glance:

  • You want to move your website to a new domain and/or to a new host (migration).
  • You want toredesign your website.
  • You want to revise your website andrelaunch it under the existing domain.
  • Your website has been hacked or corrupted (by an update) and therefore no longer works properly(restore/recovery).
  • You want to remove unused legacy files andclean up your WordPress.
  • You want to start from scratch andreset WordPress completely.

Resetting WordPress is also particularly helpful and common in a test installation where different themes, plugins and settings are experimented with as part of development and testing workflows.


Before you reset your WordPress, you should think carefully if it is really necessary. Often there are less drastic solutions. A migration to a new domain can also be realized via 301 redirects. If you are only concerned about the content, you can delete all your pages and posts via the WordPress menu. And if you want to redesign your site, a new theme can also be set up without resetting the site. A staging site or plugin like theme Switcha will keep your site visible in the old design while you are working on the new look.

What can be reset on WordPress?

Overall, you should always be clear about what you want to achieve by resetting your WordPress. Depending on which of the above scenarios you are dealing with, the reset can refer to different components of WordPress. This is because the content management system (CMS) is made up of different components. So when we talk about resetting WordPress, it can mean several things.

Specifically, the action may relate to the following four components:

  1. WordPress Core (files and folders in the root directory, e.g. index.php, wp-login.php, wp-admin)
  2. WordPress configuration files (wp-config.php, .htaccess and robots.txt)
  3. WordPress database (tables, e.g. wp_posts, wp_options, wp_comments)
  4. WordPress site data (all files in the wp-content folder, e.g. installed plugins and themes, uploads).

Depending on whether you want to remove content, restore plugins and themes or repair the WordPress core after a hacker attack, different components have to be reset. You don't always have to do a complete reset, but all components are closely connected and influence each other. This makes resetting a complex matter - especially if you reset WordPress manually (more about that in a moment).

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Reset WordPress - this is how it works

Should you actually come to the conclusion that it is necessary to reset your WordPress website, you have three options for doing so, which we will take a closer look at in the next sections:

  1. Reset WordPress manually
  2. Reset WordPress using plugin
  3. Reset WordPress with WP-CLI

Never without backup!

Before you start resetting your WordPress website, you should always create a full backup. It's best to do this on an ongoing basis anyway and always have intermediate backups saved from the moment you started creating your website. The backups can then be restored quickly and with a few clicks in case something goes wrong. At Raidboxes you can also create backups automatically and restore them with just one click.

1. perform WordPress reset manually

A manual WordPress reset is the most individual and at the same time the most complicated and error-prone variant. We therefore list it rather for the sake of completeness. In principle, you delete everything in the manual reset and then reinstall WordPress. Especially WordPress beginners without deeper technical know-how and experience, but easily break their website. Mostly it is therefore even easier to create a clean, new WordPress installation.

If you still want to manually reset WordPress, these are the steps you usually take to do so:

  1. Create a complete backup of your existing website. Back up your database and WordPress directory as well.
  2. Log in to your hosting, navigate to Databases and delete the old MySQL database of your website (or the website you want to reset, if you have more than one).
  3. Then create a new database and write down the access data.
  4. Log in to your server via FTP and navigate to the folder where your website data is located.
  5. Now you can delete the files and subfolders you want to reset. You can also keep certain parts of your website. It is often recommended to delete the wp-content folder completely. You may also want to keep an individually set up theme or certain plugins. In practice, this step is very individual and the best way to proceed depends on what you want to achieve with the reset.
  6. When you are done with the "spring cleaning", your WordPress website is clean, but not yet ready for use again. Therefore, the next step is to run the WordPress installation script . Add the following to your URL in the address bar of your browser: /wp-admin/install.php.
  7. Let yourself be guided through the WordPress installation and connect your new database. For this you need the access data again, which you have noted down before. Once this is done, the reset is complete.

Important: The steps here are greatly simplified. In practice, there are still many individual subtleties and adjustments. How you proceed exactly depends, among other things, on which hosting provider you are, what your website setup looks like and which tools you use to manage your website. So you should really only opt for a manual reset if you have the necessary know-how.

2. reset WordPress website using plugin (using WP Reset as an example)

It is much easier and less error-prone to let a reset specialist plugin help you with the reset. You have fewer individual options, but it is also less likely to go wrong.

WordPress Reset plugin WP Reset
The WP Reset plugin

Especially popular in the WordPress community is WP Reset. The plugin deletes all pages, posts and comments. Also, the tool removes data stored in the library and created user accounts. In short, it can restore your WordPress website back to its original state. Important things like the name of your website, the URL as well as the admin including password will be preserved. So you can't accidentally "lock yourself out" of your website.

The plugin is available in a pretty good free version or as a paid Pro version with advanced features starting at $39 per year.

How exactly you can reset your WordPress with WP Reset, we will now take a closer look. You only have to follow four steps:

1. Install plugin

Install WordPress Reset plugin
The WP Reset plugin in your Dashboard

You can find the plugin via your WordPress menu under Plugins → Install by searching for "WP Reset". Now you can install and activate it. Then you can find it on the left menu under Tools → WP Reset.

2. create backup

It was mentioned briefly above, but it can't be said often enough: You should always make sure that you have a backup of your current WordPress installation before you change anything. This applies to experiments with new themes and plugins, updates and even if you want to reset WordPress. Back up your WordPress database as well - preferably locally on your computer or in a cloud, so that nothing gets lost. By the way: If you host your website at Raidboxes, backups are already integrated (more about that later). 

WP Reset itself also offers the possibility to create a so-called "snapshot". The tool creates a copy of your WordPress database and saves it for later. This can be additionally useful, but does not replace a full backup. 

Wordpress Reset plugin Wpreset Snapshot
Create a snapshot with WP Reset

3. check settings

When you start the plugin under Tools → WP Reset , you can see in a table which data the plugin will delete as soon as you press the button. If you are working with the free version of WP Reset, the column "Site Reset" is relevant in the overview (outlined in red in the screenshot).

Wordpress Reset plugin Wpreset Settings
Listing of the data that will be deleted from plugin

4. reset WordPress

In the section below the overview, you then specify what should happen after resetting your website. You can choose between:

  • Restore the current theme
  • WP Reset plugin reactivate
  • Reactivate all current plugins

What suits you best depends on why you are doing the WordPress reset. If all checkboxes are selected, WP Reset resets WordPress, deletes the data and reactivates your old theme and the current plugins afterwards.

Wordpress Reset plugin Wpreset Reset Site
Choose what should happen when you reset your data

All actions in the overview are executed by plugin with one click. To be on the safe side, you have to enter the word "reset" in the confirmation field below. Then you can start and WordPress will be completely reset to the state of a fresh WordPress installation.

Addition: More tools

You can also selectively reset some components of your website via the plugin in the "Tools" tab, such as transients, your WordPress theme, your plugins, the .htaccess file and all your media.

Wordpress Reset plugin Wpreset Tools Select
You also have the option to reset only selected parts.

3. reset WordPress via the WP-CLI

If you have some technical understanding, you can also reset your WordPress website via the "WordPress Command Line Interface", short "WP-CLI". Simply put, you enter commands via the command line and WordPress executes them. This allows you to automate processes that would normally take a lot of time - including the reset of WordPress. This is a bit faster and less risky than doing it manually. However, it does not work without know-how and WordPress experience. The basics about WP-CLI and how to use the command line, you can read in our article WP-CLI - Do you already use the command line for WordPress?

If you want to use the WP-CLI to reset your WordPress website, it is best to try the commands for each step (these are basically analogous to the manual reset) on a staging site first. Successful commands will be documented and then executed in the correct order on the live site at the end.

As a first starting point, here are some useful commands:

  • wp site empty → posts, delete comments, categories and keywords
  • wp site empty -uploads → Works like wp site empty, but additionally removes uploads
  • wp config create –dbname=<dbname> –dbuser=<dbuser> → Neue wp-config.php Datei anlegen und Zugangsdaten für die Datenbank eintragen
  • wp core download -force → Redownload WordPress core files and overwrite existing files
  • wp db export <file> → WordPress Datenbank exportieren und in eine Datei schreiben
  • wp db tables → Show all tables in the WordPress database
  • wp db drop → Delete entire WordPress database
  • wp db reset → Delete WordPress database and then create it again

Of course, these are far from all the commands that can help you reset your WordPress installation. These are just some examples. You can find a complete list of commands in the official WP-CLI documentation.

WP-CLI at Raidboxes

You want to use WP-CLI with Raidboxes? No problem. It's already pre-installed when you create a new Box (i.e. a WordPress website) using the Raidboxes Dashboard . If you're wondering how to connect to Raidboxes via an SSH terminal and use WP-CLI , you should take a look at our article The Perfect WordPress Development Workflow with Git & SSH.

Reset WordPress - these features offers Raidboxes

If you host your website at Raidboxes, you can save yourself some steps and reset your WordPress website even easier. In some cases you can even save the actual resetting. Because Raidboxes regularly creates automatic backups of your Box (your WordPress website). Thereby WordPress as well as your database will be backed up. By default, an automatic backup is scheduled every night. In addition, you can manually trigger the backup up to three times with one click - via the Dashboard in your Box:

WordPress Backup: create backup
Raidboxes enables the creation of three manual backups

The backups allow you to react quickly in case of emergency and, for example:

  • restore a backup if your website has been infected by malware,
  • fix your website when updates of plugins or themes failed and broke pages,
  • restore an older version of WordPress,
  • reconstruct a previous data state.

Additionally, with Raidboxes you can avoid some situations where it might be necessary to reset your WordPress in the first place - simply by cloning your website. All you need is a backup of your website.

Box Clone from backup
Create a clone of your website

Then click on the small box icon next to the backup and create the clone as a new free demo Box - or activate it directly in one of your existing contracts. When you clone your website into a demo Box, you can experiment with it to your heart's content for 14 days afterwards (in the Starter plan). If something goes wrong, you can always restore a previous version of your website with just one click.

Conclusion: Which method is the best?

The bottom line is that it doesn't happen all the time that you have to reset your WordPress. And you should always think twice if a drastic reboot is really necessary. But there are actually some scenarios where it can be very useful. Especially in testing and development workflows, a WordPress reset often makes sense.

If the worst comes to the worst, there are various methods available to you, all of which have their own advantages and disadvantages and vary in suitability depending on your individual setup and expertise. WordPress beginners are best off with the low-risk variant via plugin (e.g. WP Reset). Especially if only certain parts of a WordPress website should be reset, a plugin is the best solution for non-professionals. Those who are more familiar with WordPress can perform the reset manually or via WP-CLI .

Also, if the database is unresponsive for some reason or the plugin is on strike because the WordPress core has been corrupted (e.g. by malware), you may have to resort to the manual method or to WP-CLI . Often it is even easier to restart with a fresh WordPress installation - unless you rely on WordPress hosting from Raidboxes. Then you can reset your Box at any time with one click (on the button "Reset WordPress" in Dashboard) to its original state. All plugins, themes and content from the file system as well as the database of your Box will then be deleted. The Box is then completely emptied and you can continue working with a fresh WordPress.

In any case: Before you reset your WordPress website, you should create a backup. Only then you can access your website again, if you delete it by mistake or if you want to use some parts again.

Reset WordPress frequently asked questions

How can I reset WordPress?

WordPress can basically be reset in three different ways: manually, via WP-CLI or with a plugin like WP Reset.

How to delete themes in WordPress?

To delete themes (and also plugins) in WordPress, you don't have to reset your entire WordPress directly. You can also remove individual themes that you no longer need, simply via your WordPress menu (via Design → Themes → Details → Delete).

Can I reset my WordPress to an older version?

You can always "downgrade" your WordPress to an older version, as long as you still have a backup of your website with the older WordPress version. This you simply restore. At Raidboxes this works in the Dashboard of your Box (i.e. your WordPress website) via the tab "Backups" and a click on the "circle arrow symbol" next to the backup you want to use. The WordPress version, under which the backups were created, is displayed in the backup overview.

Your questions about resetting WordPress

Which questions about resetting WordPress are still open? We are looking forward to your comment. You are interested in current topics around WordPress and hosting? Then follow Raidboxes on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or via our newsletter.

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