It’s official. WordPress 5 update (a.k.a Gutenberg) is being released on December 6th. At the time of writing, this is the day after tomorrow!
Why is this “special” – WordPress updates every week or 2?
In this update, the new editor “Gutenberg” will become the default editor. Gutenberg is a new editor, which is being marketed as a “Whole new way to use WordPress”.
That sounds great – why are people worried about it?
What will happen when I update?
After you install the Gutenberg plugin, when you edit a page, will see the new editor. By default, Gutenberg will treat the existing content on the page as a single HTML block. You will have the ability to leave the page as-is and edit the page as HTML. To avoid this, you can install the WordPress Classic Editor plugin. We have done this for all the site we maintain with our WordPress Care package.
I have tested it, and on a basic site, it works well, no drama. My one annoyance is the time it takes to generate the preview.. watching a WordPress logo artfully render gets irritating fast.
But, I am more worried about what will happen in an older site. An existing WordPress site with 30 plugins, and an old un-updated theme..that could be a problem.
Help – I clicked update and now my site is down
These are the steps to take if the WordPress 5 Gutenberg update has crashed your site
- Above all don’t panic. You work is not lost for ever. What has most likely happened is a clash between a plugin or a theme has bought your site down
- Access your site files on your host via ftp or by logging into your host cPanel and accessing the files there
- You will see a folder called wp-content – open that folder
- In the opened wp-content, you will see a folder called plugins
- Rename plugins to “old-plugins”. This instantly takes all your plugins “out of play” (but keeps their settings).
- Type your site domain into a new tab – does it load now? – go to to step 11. If might look funky, but is OK, we just need it functional at this stage. If no, go to step 7.
- Still in wp-content, rename the “themes” folder to “old-themes“
- Create a new folder called themes
- Go back to you “old-themes” and drag “twentyseventeen” from folder “old-themes” to “themes
- Test your site domain again in a new browser tab. Your site should be visible now (.. it won’t look right, but that is OK. We just need it functional to take the next step
- Congratulations – nearly there. Your site is functional, so now log in as per normal
- Once logged into the WordPress admin, go to plugins, and add new. Search for “Classic Editor (https://en-ca.wordpress.org/plugins/classic-editor/) , install and activate
- Return to your files, and drag each one of your plugin folders from “old-plugins” back to “plugins“. If you had to change the theme, do the same, copying all the themes from “old-themes” back to “themes“
- You will now need to return to your WordPress Admin and reactivate your plugins and Themes. I do this one at a time, in case there is still a problem. If there is, take note of which plugin or theme you last activated, go back to your files and remove from active directory
Now you have a site that is both functional up to date. However, you are not using Gutenberg. You will be able to stick to the classic WordPress editor for the foreseeable future. But, in the words of WordPress themselves.
The editor is just the beginning. Gutenberg is more than an editor. It’s also the foundation that’ll revolutionize customization and site building in WordPress. – WordPress.org
In conclusion, whilst your site is up and running, I would contact a developer and put a plan in place to find and fix the problem and implement Gutenberg.