How to Reset WordPress – With or Without a Plugin

Want to undo everything on your WordPress site and start over? There are multiple ways to do it. Let’s see how to reset WordPress with and without a plugin.

What does it mean to reset WordPress? Well, resetting WordPress means taking it back to the fresh installation state. When you first install WordPress, what do you see? There’s no custom look. Only some sample content. And that’s it! 

After you add content and customize the look and feel of your WordPress site, you can still go back to the initial default state by resetting WordPress. It’s something like restoring the factory settings in a smartphone. 

When you may want to reset WordPress

You may want to reset your WordPress site in some specific situations. Let’s discuss why you might think of resetting or restarting WordPress.

It was a staging site

Probably you have been building your site on your localhost. Now you’ve migrated the site from your computer’s localhost to a live server. So you don’t need the local version anymore. What can you do? 

You can reset the local site and use the WordPress installation for testing purposes. Resetting the local site will make the WordPress installation faster and lighter, which will help you test random WordPress stuff.

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It’s a client’s site that you need to fix

It happens a lot to freelancers and agencies. Also, sometimes some technical support persons face this issue. The client asks for help for his problematic site. But probably the site is so messed up that it needs a start over. In that scenario, you may offer your client a complete reset with a warning that it would make the site blank.

You’re a developer or enthusiast who experiments a lot

If you’re a WordPress developer or enthusiast, you may want to try different themes, plugins, and stuff. That would require a lot of test sites. 

Learn More: Fix: WordPress Briefly Unavailable for Scheduled Maintenance

But, as a smart person, you should not take the hassle of installing a new WordPress instance every time. You can simply reset an existing WordPress installation and use it as a fresh instance.

You’re launching a new website and experimenting with it

This is also a common thing. When we are in the middle of launching a new website, we do a lot of experiments. And it actually helps get the desired site design/functionality. While these trials and errors, you might want to reset the site sometimes to start fresh. Sounds familiar, right?

Recovering from a hack or compromise

Bad things can happen. One can decide to reset their WordPress site and restore a backup to recover from a hack or compromise. It’s very effective. First, you should fully reset the site. Then install your backup plugin. Restore an available backup from the cloud or local storage. However, in such a scenario you must scan the site for malware after restoring the backup.

How to reset WordPress without any plugin

If you want to do things on your own and do have the time to follow the manual path, you can reset WordPress without using a plugin. Just follow the steps below.

Step 1: Delete the database

Your WordPress settings and content (text) are stored on the database. So if you want to start fresh, you must get rid of these. An easy way to do this is by deleting the current database. You can access your database from your hosting panel like cPanel. If your host doesn’t offer such a panel, you need to access the database system in another way like phpMyAdmin.

Please note, deleting the database will remove all your WordPress posts, pages, settings, and so on. If you need to re-use something from these, take a backup and keep that safe outside your current server. This will ensure that you don’t accidentally delete the backup while resetting WordPress.

Once you’re on the database interface, identify the database of your WordPress site. You can also find out the database name in your wp-config.php file. Once you’re sure that you’ve found the right database, delete that using the available option on your panel.

Step 2: Delete some folders and files

After deleting the database, you need to delete the files you’ve uploaded or created along the way. Below are the folders we’ll delete to start over with WordPress.

This time you’ll need to access your WordPress installation directory. An FTP client like FileZilla can be used to connect to your WordPress site’s file system.

Visit the WordPress root directory (normally named as public_html). Open the wp-content folder. Select everything inside the wp-content folder except the themes folder. Delete the selected items. 

Step 3: Delete themes

In the previous step, we’ve deleted everything inside wp-content except themes. Now let’s open the themes folder. Keep the latest default theme (e.g. Twenty Twenty-One). Delete all the other themes and files inside the themes folder.

Step 4: Create a new database

Your WordPress site needs a database to work. Since you’ve deleted the old database, so you need to create one now. Go to the database panel from where you’ve deleted the previous database. Create a new database. Remember the database name, database username, and database user password. 

Step 5: Edit wp-config.php to update the database info

The wp-config.php file contains a section where the database information and credentials are stored, remember? Now it’s time to enter the new database information there. So open thewp-config.php file again and update the database information. 

If you set the old credentials for the new database, you won’t need to update thewp-config.php file. But in case you are recovering from a hack, you should use new database credentials and update thewp-config.php file accordingly.

Step 6: Run the WordPress installation script

After completing all of the above steps, the site will go offline. We need to run the WordPress installation script to bring the site online. To do so, add /wp-admin/install.php to the end of your website address. It will look something like this: example.com/wp-admin/install.php

How to Reset WordPress - With or Without a Plugin

Visit the above URL in your browser. You’ll be asked a few details to set up WordPress. It’s like installing a new WordPress instance.

Fill in the form and start over the site. Once the installation is done, you’ll be able to log in using your new credentials.

How to reset WordPress using a plugin

You can reset a WordPress site with a few clicks using a plugin. WP Reset is such a plugin that makes it a piece of cake. Just install and activate the plugin and go to your WordPress Dashboard > Tools > WP Reset. You’ll find the reset page.

How to reset WordPress using a plugin

By default, you can reset the site content and all customizations. Your files, themes, and plugins will not be deleted. They will be just deactivated. If you want, you can choose to delete them from WP Reset settings.

Also, the plugin has a snapshot feature. You can use it to take a snapshot of the site so that you can restore it after resetting the site. Just a cautionary measure.

If you want the easiest and most convenient way to reset a WordPress site, our recommendation is to go with the WP Reset plugin. You can use it for free. Or if you are recovering your site from a hack, you should get a fresh installation instead and then restore the content from a backup.

Wrapping up

In this post, we’ve discussed the ways to reset a WordPress site. We’ve seen the manual and a plugin-based method. If you’re a busy developer or WordPress enthusiast, you may find the plugin method easier. If you want to do things on your own and in more detail, then follow the manual method. We hope you’ll find this tutorial helpful. Let us know your thoughts!


Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links and we may receive a small commission if you purchase something by following them. However, we recommend services/products that we believe good to serve your purpose.

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