At times, you may need to reset all the data in your WordPress website and start with a new installation. This gives you a fresh start and you can begin building the website again from scratch.
What Does Resetting a WordPress Website Mean?
When you reset a WordPress website, it deletes all the data that is currently present on the website and sets it back as though it is a new installation.
Before resetting the website, you need to understand what are the data that makes up WordPress. This will bring more clarity on what happens under the hood in order for the reset to go smoothly and as intended.
First, WordPress contains data in the database. All the posts, pages, comments, their corresponding details, different settings, etc. of the website are stored in the database of the website. Resetting the WordPress website essentially means wiping out of all of the data in the database, since it will wipe out all the settings that you have in the website and you will only have the default settings in there.
The other data that your WordPress website will is the theme, plugins, and media files. These can be found in the wp-uploads folder. The theme files are stored in the ‘themes’ folder, the plugins in the ‘plugins’ folder and the media files that you have uploaded to the site in the ‘uploads’ folder.
Also note, some of the data of your WordPress website may even be stored in a third-party service that you might have used on your website.
What is the Need of Resetting a WordPress Site?
It’s not very often that someone will need to reset a WordPress website. But it’s not something unheard of either. Below are some of the scenarios that require resetting of a WordPress website to its initial state.
Rebuild a website from scratch – If you want to scrap all that you have in your current website and create something new, you can do that without needing another installation. After a reset of the website, you will have a new clean foundation to build up the site to create something new.
Restore from a test installation – When you are done testing a website and you do not need the data in the website any longer, or want to create another test environment with a new installation, you can go for a WordPress reset.
When you want to restore a backup of the site – when something goes wrong in your website and you want to restore the entire website from backup, you may have to reset the website and then roll back to the previous state by restoring the backup.
WordPress by default does not have this option where you can roll everything back to the initial default state. But there are ways that you can reset WordPress and of course there are plugins that can help you do it.
What is the advantage of having a reset over creating another fresh installation? Depending on the requirement of the website owner, it may depend whether or not a reset is the best way to go, but it’s certainly faster and easier than removing all of the data on your WordPress website manually or doing a fresh WordPress installation.
Now that we have covered the basics, let’s dive into the details on how we can reset a WordPress website.
We will be discussing three different ways in which we can reset the data.
- Using WP-CLI
- Using a plugin
Manually Resetting WordPress
Before you go ahead and reset your entire website, you should take a back up of the website so that if in case anything goes wrong you can always roll back to your previous state.
Let’s see the steps involved in resetting WordPress manually.
- Delete the database
- Create a new database
- Remove unwanted files
- Run WordPress installation again
For a live website, you can do this easily by the cPanel of your hosting provider.
1-Delete the Database
From the cPanel, go to the Databases section of the cPanel.
Next, from the Database list, find the right database to your WordPress website. Take a note of the name of the database. Then click on the delete button from the actions.
Now that you have deleted the WordPress website, do not access your website just yet. Without a database, you will not be able to access your website. So, we need to move on to the next step.
2 – Create a new Database
After deleting the old database, create a new one from the same screen on the cPanel. Go to the Create New Database section, and enter the name of the database. Enter the same name as the old database.
Next, you need to Add a user to the newly created database. Try to use the same username and password to the new database.
If you have lost your username and password, you can get if from the wp-config file from your FTP. Login to your FTP, then access the wp-config file from your website’s public_html folder. You can edit/view the file from your FTP program or download the file.
From this file, all you need is the old database username and password. You can find them under MySQL Settings in the file.
After you get the username and password of the old database, you can now go ahead and create a new one.
3 – Remove the unwanted files
After deleting the database, you have only deleted the posts, pages, comments, custom tables, all the settings of the website. The rest of the data like the themes, plugins, and the upload files are stored separately in the wp-content folder, remember?
So, to manually delete them, from your FTP go to the website root folder in public_html. From the wp-contents folder, delete the folders that you want to delete except the themes folder. In the themes folder, delete the themes that you want to delete and only keep any of the default WordPress themes like Twenty Seventeen.
4 – Run the WordPress installation Again
After you have successfully reset the WordPress website, you will need to run the installation again. For this, you need to append the /wp-admin/install.php on the address bar of your browser. This will run the installation and you may need to enter a few settings and admin username and password.
Now you have a fresh new installation of your WordPress website and you can now work on your new website afresh.
Now all this may seem a lot of work to do for resetting a website, especially when there are plugins that help you to accomplish the task in a click of a button. But manual reset of WordPress makes you understand the inner workings of WordPress and what lies beneath the surface.
Resetting Using WP-CLI
If you are a developer, then you must be using WP-CLI in your development. And if you are not a developer and you are not aware of it, WP-CLI is a tool that enables to interact with your WordPress website using the command line via SSH (Secure Shel) access.
Using WP-CLI, you can reset the WordPress site using the command wp db reset. That’s it, and you will have the database reset and you are left with only the default settings of the WordPress website.
But using WP-CLI you will only be resetting the database, for the rest of the data like the themes, plugins, and the media uploads, you will have to reset them manually.
Resetting WordPress Using a Plugin
There are plugins that can help you reset a WordPress website. When searching for type in the keyword ‘reset’ and you will be shown a bunch of plugins that can help you with your task.
In this article, I will be using the WP Reset plugin. The plugin has got 100,000+ active installations at the time of writing this article and also has got decent reviews.
It is to keep in mind that the resetting process cannot be reversed. So, only proceed if you are sure since you will not be getting any of these data back. If you think you might regret the decision, keep a backup of your website.
Follow the steps to reset your WordPress website using WPReset.
Next, install and activate the plugin. After successful activation, you will able to WPReset under the Tools menu.
On the WP Reset page, you will able to see multiple tabs. The first one being the Reset tab.
On the Reset tab, first, you are presented with the warning that must read before proceeding with the reset process.
Then there is a Post-reset action section where you get to select what happens after the reset process has been completed.
There are three options where you get to decide whether you want to reactivate the current theme, reactivate the WP Reset plugin, and reactivate all the plugins that are currently active.
Next is the reset section.
From here, you will need to enter the word ‘reset’ before clicking on the Reset WordPress button. This is one of the fail-safe mechanisms in place since the reset process wipes out all of the data and is an irreversible process. After clicking on the Reset WordPress button, you will be asked to confirm the action again and then the reset process will begin.
After clicking on reset, the plugin will delete the database including the custom tables. The themes, plugins, and the media uploads will stay intact.
If you want to delete the rest of the data, the plugin gives you a one-click solution for that as well. For that, you have to move to the second tab in the WP Reset plugin page.
The second tab on the plugin page is the Tools tab. From this tab, you have the options that give you more control over the data that is to be removed from the website installation.
On the third, you have the DB snapshots where you can take the snapshots of the database at that instance.
Next is the collection tab, which at the time of writing is under development and the last tab includes support information.
According to the developers of the plugin, there is a lot more in store for the plugin in the future.
– Plugins & Themes Collections – people will be able to create their own collections so they can install their favorite plugins and themes with a single click
– Nuclear Reset – reset EVERYTHING in one click
– Change WP Version – you will be able to choose a WP version so once WordPress gets reinstalled automatically, it will use the older version if you wanted to
– WPMU – the plugin will be completely compatible with WPMU
That’s something to look out for!
So there you have it! Now you can successfully reset your WordPress website and get a fresh start.