How to Fix “Destination Folder Already Exists” Error on WordPress

One of the most common WordPress errors is the “destination folder already exists” error.

If you work with a lot of plugins and themes on your WordPress site, then you are likely to come across this error when trying to reinstall an old plugin or theme.

Encountering this error can be a frustrating experience because one, it prevents you from installing the plugin or theme, and two, you need to drop everything you are doing to fix the error first.

That said, fixing this error won’t take long.

What causes the “destination folder already exists” error?

WordPress has a structured folder system where it stores all its core files and folders.

When you install a new plugin or a theme, new sub-folders are added to the system. But during the installation process, you may encounter issues like loss of internet connection, hosting servers going down, etc. In such cases, the installation fails but the plugin or theme may leave a folder or two behind.

So when you try reinstalling the same plugin or theme, WordPress becomes confused because it already has an identical folder in its system. And that’s when WordPress shows you the “destination folder already exists” error.

This is usually the cause behind the error. But there are other causes too, like when you delete a plugin or theme from your WordPress admin but the folder is not completely removed from the server, and so you encounter the error if you try to reinstall the plugin or theme.

👉 On rare occasions, you may encounter the error when trying to update a plugin or a theme.

How to fix the “destination folder already exists” error

There are two ways to fix the destination folder already exists WordPress error:

  1. You can use the “Replace current with uploaded” feature in the WordPress dashboard. This is the simplest fix in 2022 and beyond.
  2. You can manually delete the folder from your server using cPanel File Manager or FTP. Then, you can install the plugin or theme without seeing the error.

Method 1: Use the replace current with uploaded button

To address the “destination folder already exists error,” WordPress created a new core feature that lets you choose to overwrite the existing folder when you upload a theme or plugin.

If you upload a plugin or theme where the folder already exists, you should see a message like this:

destination folder already exists WordPress feature

If you click the Replace current with uploaded button, WordPress will automatically overwrite the existing folder.

If you don’t see this screen for some reason, you can also achieve the same thing manually using the next method.

Method 2: Use the manual method

To execute the manual method, you will need to access your WordPress files and folders. Because you’ll be connecting directly to your WordPress server, we recommend taking a backup of your website before proceeding further.

Use cPanel

If your host offers cPanel, you can use cPanel to access your server’s files and delete the problematic folder.

You can access it by logging into your hosting account. The exact location of the cPanel differs from web host to web host but it should be somewhere on your hosting dashboard.

After finding the cPanel, open it and go to the File Manager and locate the public_html folder.

Inside the public_html folder, there is a wp-content folder that stores all the files of your plugins and themes.

wp-content folder in file manager
Locating wp-content folder in File Manager

⚠ Note: If you are hosting multiple websites on the same server or if your website is installed as a subdomain, you need to find the wp-content folder located inside the folder of your website (as shown in the image below).

wp-content folder in a sub-domain
Locating wp-content folder in subdomain

The next step is to find the appropriate files and delete them. Inside the wp-content, there are sub-folders for every plugin and theme installed on your site.

If you want to delete a theme, then go to the themes folder, right-click on the specific theme folder and select Delete.

If you want to delete a plugin, then go to the plugins folder, right-click on the specific plugin folder and select Delete.

Do not delete the main plugins or themes folders – you should only delete the folder for the specific theme or plugin that’s causing issues.

deleting plugins from file manager to remove destination folder already exists error
Deleting a plugin folder from File Manager

Now, open your WordPress dashboard and reinstall the plugin or the theme.

Use an FTP client

Some hosting providers don’t offer cPanel. To access the WordPress files and folders in such cases, you need to use an FTP client.

An FTP client is software that you need to install on your computer.

There are many FTP clients to choose from but the most popular one is FileZilla. It’s free and gets the job done. Learn how to install and use Filezilla.

Install Filezilla on your computer and open the app.

Next, enter your site’s FTP login details into the app. This will establish a connection between the app and your hosting server.

⚠ Note: You can find your FTP login details in your web host’s welcome email or just ask your hosting support team.

After the connection is established, you will notice that the right panel of the app has been populated with many folders. Find the public_html folder and go to wp-content → plugins or themes.

Select the plugin or theme you want to delete, right-click and choose Delete.

deleting plugins from filezilla to remove destination folder already exists error
Deleting a plugin folder from FileZilla

Then go back to your WordPress admin and try reinstalling the plugin or theme on your WordPress site.

Fix the destination folder already exists error for good

The “destination folder already exists” error is a common one in WordPress, and it’s easy to fix. All you need to do is remove the old files and folders, either manually or by selecting the “replace current with uploaded” button in the WordPress dashboard. Then you should be able to install your plugin or theme without any problems.

However, if you keep encountering the error, then you need to talk to your hosting provider about this issue.

Do you still have any questions about how to fix the destination folder already exists WordPress error? Let us know in the comments.

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