I created my own plugins and install/update them by uploading the zip file in the dashboard. That worked well, but suddenly1 a new instance of the plugin gets added instead of updating the already installed one. Before WP would ask "do you want to replace version X with version Y", but that dialog does not appear anymore.

I had this issue before, but back then I had the date and version in the name of the zip file. Ever since I always use the same name for the zip file (e.g. my-plugin.zip), it used to update the plugin.

Now WP creates new directories my-plugin-1, my-plugin-2, ... when updating.

Is there a best practice for creating the zip files?
What let's WP decide whether to install a new instance or update?


It seems that it now works again as before, the zip files are recognizes as updates. I have no clue why it stop working nor why it started working again.
I would still be interested on how to best prepare (compress/zip) plugins to enable an update instead of adding a new instance.
Is it the name of the zip file? The name of the zipped folder? The name in the style.css manifest?

1 I'm sure there is a good reason for it, but I don't know yet what changed that caused this

1 Answer 1


This is the default behaviour for WordPress. But there is a plugin called "Easy theme and plugin upgrades" that handles this for plugin and template updates: https://de.wordpress.org/plugins/easy-theme-and-plugin-upgrades/

After installing the plugin, you can just upload a new zip and it wont't install another plugin/theme instance. Instead, the plugin generates a backup of the older version and overwrites the plugin folder.

  • 1
    Since 5.5 this is a core feature, so no, it is not "default behaviour" anymore.
    – kero
    Commented Oct 20, 2021 at 14:54
  • 2
    It was definitely not "default behaviour" for the last months, since I updated plugins and themes this way multiple times (without any extra plugins). @kero did something change lately that deactivates the functionality again. I noticed this now on 2 different WP websites
    – jost21
    Commented Oct 21, 2021 at 12:13
  • That's interesting, never noticed that change. Nevertheless, the mentioned plugin just works fine.
    – propz
    Commented Oct 21, 2021 at 13:40

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