Have you ever walked into your house or office and thought “how did this get so messy?” – when it’s not nice to look at, when looking for something becomes a nightmare, and just ends up causing stress.
The same can happen to your WordPress site too. With time it tends to lose its initial glory – posts, pages, users, plugins and media files pile up and it becomes hectic. It may not seem to be a very useful environment anymore – this can happen for either your test site or your main one.
Although your test site is meant for the purpose of trying different things out, it can eventually get over-cluttered making it hard to keep a track of which plugins are producing which features and knowing the exact issue that is making your site behave a certain way which ends up defeating the purpose of testing.
Purpose of Resetting
Regardless of the site being a test one or the main one, sometimes a fresh start is the way to go. A fresh start doesn’t mean abandoning a WordPress installation entirely, it can just mean wiping the current one clean, something that is in technical terms called resetting. Resetting can be done for a number of reasons.
Your WordPress site didn’t turn out to be what you expected, maybe you made a few bad design choices here and there or the vision you had for your site just doesn’t look as good in real life as it did in your design plans. You have an old site that isn’t used anymore, and you want to reuse the domain for a different project. Your site had a breach in security or has a bug that compromised its functionality and you now need to restore the site from a backup. You’ve finished one round of testing and would like to use that environment for testing other things out.
Cleaning up an installation can be done step by step, plugin by plugin, page by page – but honestly who has enough free time? Even if you do why not use it for doing more useful things for your site. Thus, resetting should be done all at once, and this can be done through a process with very few steps. Read on to find out how.
Different methods of resetting
Like with most things in WordPress, on disposal you have two methods – using a plugin and not using one. Although we would always recommend using a plugin since it is a faster and easier method. For those of you wanting to go the plugin-free route, we will mention two ways you can reset your WordPress without a plugin.
Resetting through the command-line interface
The command line scares a lot of people, and that’s perfectly normal since it doesn’t give you the most pleasant user experience. But for tech-savvy people, especially developers, the command line is a tool through which they can complete complex tasks in the fastest way possible. One thing to note about this method of resetting is that it only resets your database, you will still have to disable your plugins by yourself.
To reset a database through the command line is pretty simple. All you have to do is run the following command “wp db reset”. After the command gets executed, you will get a message saying the process was successful and that your database was wiped clean.
To do a manual reset you will need access to your site’s database and files. Accessing the database is done through cPanel and the files are accessed using an FTP software. The first thing you need to do is to delete the database.
Log into cPanel, go into the database section and click on MySQL databases. Here you’ll find a number of databases and you need to find the one dedicated to your site. If you are not sure what the name of your database is, you can find it (using an FTP program) from the wp-config file located in the root folder of your WordPress installation. Once you have found the database, just click delete. Next, also in the MySQL databases section, create a new database and give it the same name the old database had otherwise your reset process will fail.
The database now needs to have a user added to it, the same user that had access to the old database. That specific user should appear on the existing users list in the “add a user to the database” section. If you don’t know the name of the user, it can also be found in the wp-config file. Once this is done, you’ll have a brand-new database.
Once you have a new database, it’s time to delete WordPress files that contain your plugins, themes, and uploads. Those files are accessed using an FTP program or the file manager in cPanel and are located in the wp-content folder of your WordPress root directory. In the wp-content folder, you can conveniently delete everything except the themes folder. You should keep the themes folder, but clean it leaving only the theme you wish to have on your site.
The last step is to install WordPress again using the built-in script. Running the script is done by adding “/wp-admin/install.php” at the end of your site’s URL. When the script has finished executing, you’ll have to set up a few details such as the language and login credentials – and you’re done. You can now log into a fresh new WordPress site.
Resetting with a plugin
Resetting your WordPress site using a plugin is probably the best and easiest way to go. Most plugins are very user-friendly and fast at resetting sites not requiring any action from you except clicking a button. The plugin market is definitely saturated with reset plugins so you might find yourself confused when deciding which one to go for. A great, very popular and free option is the WP Reset plugin by WebFactory Ltd. This plugin is geared especially towards the non-technical crowd which means doing anything with it is as simple as it can be.
Resetting an entire WordPress installation is done with just one click and within a few seconds. Ahead of the reset process, you can specify exactly what you wish to reset, but if you wish to delete everything at once, you can using the Nuclear Reset feature. Through the Post-Reset Setup feature, you can tell the plugin how you want your site to be configured after a reset, so you don’t have to deal with reactivating different themes and plugins yourself.
If you think you might need your current installation again, you can save it and later restore it using database snapshots this plugin enables you to create. Also, if you want to test out different versions of WordPress, with this plugin you can switch between them with just a click. Even the previously mentioned command line reset method can be done through this plugin since it is 100% WP-CLI compatible.
Although this plugin is extremely easy to use and prevents any mistakes or issues from your end (if anything does go wrong), you can always use the plugin’s emergency recovery script or contact the plugin’s in-house support team at any time for free of cost. You can find out more about the features of this plugin, read its reviews and documentation, and download it at https://wpreset.com/.
How WP Reset works
You can incorporate this plugin into your site by searching for it in the plugins section of your WordPress dashboard and then clicking install. After a quick installation is done, go into the tools section and find the “Reset” tab. Before you get to the reset button you will be shown a short text informing you of what will and what won’t be deleted. Everything except your media files, logged user account, and some basic settings will be deleted. Your media files won’t appear in the media library after the reset but will stay on the server. Next, you will have the option of instructing the plugin on what you want to be reactivated after the reset, the current theme, currently-active plugins and/or the WP Reset plugin. On the very bottom of the page will be the “Reset WordPress” button which will only work if you first type in the word “reset” into the input field next to it. Once you’ve done that, your reset will start.
As mentioned earlier, the classic reset is done through the “Reset” tab in the WP Reset plugin section. The other tabs will allow you to do selective resets of things like transients, uploads, themes, theme mods, plugins, custom files, and the .htaccess file.
Just by acquainting yourself with these simple steps mentioned here, you are prepared to reset a WordPress site on your own. Don’t waste time trying to patch up a faulty installation or struggling to use an over-cluttered one – simply hit the reset button or run the reset command, whichever is your method of choice and start things fresh.
But before you do, always remember to back things up first!