Someone just left a comment here on WordPressGarage saying that he upgraded his wife’s WordPress blog and lost all the categories. He wanted to know how he could get them back. I asked him if he had backed up the blog before upgrading, and he sadly said no.

First of all, that’s why I hesitate to upgrade. Disaster can strike at any time, and it has struck others. But there are steps that you can take to make your WordPress upgrade smoother, and here they are:

  1. Backup, backup, backup!! I don’t care how you do it, but if you care about the posts you’ve written, then make sure you back them up on a regular basis. You can do this through PHPmyAdmin, but if that’s not your thing (which is understandable), then become familiar with WP-DB-Backup. This plugin can be set to backup your database and email it to you daily, weekly, or monthly. By using this plugin, you can get rid of the headache of remembering to back up on a regular basis.
  2. Deactivate all your Plugins!! Now you can do that in one click on your Plugins page by clicking on the Deactivate all Plugins button at the end of the list of Plugins. If you don’t do this, your whole upgrade could bork (if that’s a word).
  3. Use Fantastico!! When you are looking for a host for your site, ask them if they have Fantastico. Fantastico enables you to install all sorts of Open Source applications in one click, including WordPress. It also enables you to upgrade in one click, so once you’ve backed up and disabled your plugins, log in to your control panel, go to Fantastico, click on WordPress, and choose the blog you want to upgrade. The one drawback with Fantastico is that they don’t provide upgrades very quickly. The last time I checked, you still couldn’t upgrade to WordPress 2.3 with Fantastico. But it’s worth the wait.
  4. If you don’t use Fantastico, follow the WordPress upgrade instructions VERY CAREFULLY! Don’t try to outsmart them or skip anything, or you will pay…
  5. Use the Maintenance Mode plugin while upgrading or otherwise messing around with your WordPress blog. Maintenance Mode puts a splash screen up on your site that tells visitors the site is undergoing maintenance, and they should check back later. You can still login to the admin, and even see the front end of your site as you make changes to it.

Happy upgrading!