How to update your WordPress Theme Without Losing Any Customization

Updating your WordPress theme to the latest version will ensure your theme possesses all the latest features and is up-to-date with security patches.
In this article I will show you easy ways to update your WordPress Theme you’ve made customizations without losing any customization.

Note: Before making any changes on your site or updating your theme, make sure you back up your site (you can do in your hosting cpanel), so in case something goes wrong you can easily revert it back to normal.

Using a child theme

While updating your theme automatically is the easiest way to ensure that you get the latest version of your theme with enhanced functions and most importantly security fixes, it is not recommended for you especially if you’re not using a child theme and made all the customization on your parent theme. You shouldn’t tweak their parent theme file by directly customizing the CSS or functions.php files. Because when you update your theme, you’ll lose all the tweaks you made to it. Secondly, automatic updates can even make your site broken.child-theme-items

To preserve all the customizations without breaking your site, you can use a child theme.

wordpress-child-themes

If you’re using a child theme, you can make any customization on it without touching the parent theme, so you don’t lose anything while updating the parent theme.
However If you’re planning only for making slight changes to your CSS files, you can either create a custom CSS file or install and use a plugin like custom CSS, so you don’t need to create a child theme. If the changes are extreme, it is better to create a child theme.

Updating your WordPress theme without losing customizations if you’re not using a child theme

If you’re not currently using a child theme and did customization on your parent theme already, the solutions is to simply copy the tweaks and paste it to your latest theme after updating it. However, the problem here is you don’t always identify all the tweaks you made. Then, how do you identify it and replicate it to your new theme?

You can identify the changes by comparing the current theme with the latest theme. Once you identified it, you’ll need to copy and replicate it to your new theme.

Follow these steps process to update your WordPress themes with all your customizations intact.

Step 1: Download your current theme and the latest theme to your computer.

Form WordPress dashboard, you can’t download your current WordPress theme by default. You’ll either need to have an FTP access or need to use WP File manager plugin.

If you’re using a file manager plugin, you can download the theme directly from your WordPress dashboard. I know the plugin I mentioned here hasn’t been updated for last 3 years, but I still use it on my own sites and many of my clients’ sites because it still works like magic!

After downloading your current theme, you’ll need to download the latest version of your theme from the official WordPress directory.

Step 2: Use a file comparison software to compare your current theme with the latest version

Use a file comparison software like WinMerge if you’re on Windows, Kaleidoscope for Mac. WinMerge allows you to open theme directories and compare them.

WinMerge

Once you installed it on your computer, open both the themes on WinMerge to compare. WinMerge will show a list of directories and files in both your themes. It will also show you which files are new and which files are not identical.

Step 3: Compare and copy the customizations

You can compare by right-click on a file and click Compare to see the changes on both themes. You can easily identify what changes you’ve been made to your current theme. Now that you found the changes, all you need to do is to copy the tweaks to the latest version of your theme. Once done, overwrite your current live theme by uploading it to your WordPress theme directory using FTP or WP File manager plugin.

That’s all, hopefully this article helped you know how to update your WordPress theme without losing any customization. If you have any further questions for us, don’t hesitate to put it up in the comments. See you again in orther tutorials!

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