If you want to customize your WordPress website, you’ll likely need to install plugins and themes. However, when WordPress detects an existing folder for a specific plugin, you might receive the “Installation Failed: Destination Folder Already Exists” error. This can prevent you from improving or updating your site with new software.

Luckily, if you experience this pesky error, you can easily delete this pre-existing folder. Once you remove this folder from your site files, you’ll be free to install and update new plugins and themes.

In this post, we’ll explain what the “Installation Failed: Destination Folder Already Exists” error is and how it can happen. Then, we’ll show you how to fix it using four simple methods. Let’s get started!

An Introduction to the “Installation Failed: Destination Folder Already Exists” Error

To customize the appearance and functionality of your WordPress website, you’ll want to choose the right theme and plugins for your unique aims. In addition to the essential add-ons for things like security, you’ll also probably want to install and activate tools to optimize web speed and make the design process easier.

Unfortunately, you can run into issues when uploading your themes or plugins. In a successful upload, WordPress will extract a zip file into a new folder. Then, it will name the folder after the uploaded plugin or theme.

However, if a folder already exists for the tool you’re trying to upload, you’ll likely see the “Installation Failed: Destination Folder Already Exists” error message. This will stop the upload process, preventing you from activating your new plugin or theme.

Next, we’re going to go over what causes this error. Still, it’s first worth noting that anytime you upload new plugins or change themes, it’s wise to test them out on your site beforehand. If you have a Kinsta hosting plan, you can use your free staging environment or add on additional Premium Staging Environments to easily try out new tools ahead of time.

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What Causes the “Installation Failed: Destination Folder Already Exists” Error?

It can be frustrating to see the “Installation Failed: Destination Folder Already Exists” error on your website. That being said, you can easily resolve this theme and plugin issue once you know what’s causing it.

One of the most common reasons for this error is that the uploaded software is already installed on your website. If you’re installing an updated version of a theme or plugin, WordPress may notify you that it already has a folder for it:

Plugin already installed warning
WordPress is telling you the plugin is already installed

This error can also happen after a failed installation of a plugin or theme. If the installation process was interrupted, WordPress could have created an empty destination folder. Without being properly removed, it can prevent you from uploading that software again.

Similarly, you may have uninstalled a plugin or theme recently. Although this should delete the destination folder automatically, sometimes files can be left behind.

Ultimately, the “Installation Failed: Destination Folder Already Exists” error happens when WordPress has an identical destination folder in your site files. Although this can occur in many different ways, the solution is always the same. You’ll need to remove the folder in order to re-install the theme or plugin.

How To Fix the “Installation Failed: Destination Folder Already Exists” Error (4 Methods)

Now that you know a bit more about the “Installation Failed: Destination Folder Already Exists” error, it’s time to learn how to fix it. Compared with other WordPress errors, this problem is relatively simple to resolve.

You can choose from a few methods, but they will all involve deleting the existing destination folder so that you can upload a new file. Let’s take a close look at four ways you can do this.

1. Replace the Existing Folder With an Uploaded File

When you manually upload a theme or plugin, you might not realize that it’s already installed on your website. If this happens, you’ll receive the “Installation Failed: Destination Folder Already Exists” Error:

This plugin is already installed warning
This plugin is already installed

In a nutshell, this error message prevents you from uploading the same files multiple times. Once WordPress finds an existing folder with the same path, it will alert you.

When this occurs, all you have to do is click on the Replace current with uploaded button. This will upload the new file and delete the old one at the same time:

Replace current with uploaded
Click on the Replace current with uploaded button

Alternatively, you can cancel the upload and keep the old theme or plugin. With either option, you can avoid the hassle of editing site files. However, it’s important to note that this method will only work after you upload a plugin or theme in a .zip file.

2. Delete the Existing Folder Using a File Manager

If WordPress doesn’t allow you to simply replace the existing folder with a new one, you’ll likely need to manually delete it. Before you get started with this method, it’s always a good idea to back up your website. You can even make an external backup if you’re worried about editing your site files incorrectly. This is something you should do anytime you plan to modify site files directly.

Then, you’ll need to check how your hosting provider manages site files. Depending on your web host, you’ll likely use either a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) client or cPanel.

Option 1: Delete the Existing Folder Using an FTP Client

Certain hosting providers enable you to access site files with an FTP client. Essentially, this will connect to your website’s server, allowing you to browse and edit your files.

Before you connect to an FTP client, you’ll need to find your login credentials. Usually, your hosting provider will give you this information. If you have a Kinsta hosting plan, you can start by opening your MyKinsta dashboard:

The MyKinsta dashboard
Open your MyKinsta dashboard

Then, navigate to Sites. After that, click on the website you want to connect to an FTP client:

Click on the website you want
Click on the website and connect to an FTP client

On the Info page for your website, find the SFTP/SSH section. This will give you your username, password, host name, and port number. Be sure to keep this tab open so you can easily copy and paste this information later:

Find the find the SFTP/SSH section in MyKinsta
find the SFTP/SSH section

Next, open an FTP client. FileZilla is a popular option that supports FTP, FTPS, and SFTP access. Plus, it’s free to download:

FileZilla website
FileZilla

With a Kinsta hosting plan, you’ll have to change FileZilla’s settings to support SSH File Transfer Protocol (SFTP). Like FTP, SFTP will enable you to access and edit your site files, only SFTP will use a secure channel to transfer files. To allow FileZilla to support SFTP, go to File > Site Manager:

Click on go to File then Site Manager
Go to File > Site Manager

Then, click on New site and give it a name. For the Protocol setting, change it to SFTP – SSH File Transfer Protocol:

Change the protocol setting to SFTP - SSH File Transfer Protocol
Change the protocol setting to SFTP – SSH File Transfer Protocol

Underneath this section, copy and paste your host name and port number. After this, click on Connect:

Copy and paste your host name and port number and click connect
Copy and paste your host name and port number and click connect

In the pop-up window that follows, enter your username and password for your Kinsta server. This is the information you found previously in your MyKinsta dashboard. Then, select OK to finish connecting your website:

Use your Kinsta server info to connect
Use your Kinsta server info to connect

If your website successfully connects to FileZilla, you’ll see your site files in the Remote site section. To delete the destination folder, select public > wp-content. Then, open either the plugins or themes folder, depending on which software is causing the issue:

Find the plugins or themes folder
Open the plugins or themes folder to find the problem

Next, find the folder that’s named after the plugin or theme that you want to install. Since this existing folder is preventing you from installing a new version, you’ll need to right-click on it and delete it:

Find plugin or theme and delete it
Find the relevant plugin or theme folder and delete it

Now you can go back to your WordPress dashboard and re-install your new plugin or theme!

Option 2: Delete the Existing Folder Using cPanel

As an alternative to an FTP client, some hosting providers use cPanel. This gives you a user-friendly control dashboard to view and edit site files. This makes it an effective option for users without technical knowledge.

Before you start using cPanel, you’ll need to find your login credentials from your web host. Usually, hosting providers will provide a direct access link for your cPanel account after you purchase a hosting plan. However, you can also use these links to access your cPanel at any time:

http://www.yoursite.com:2082

https://www.yoursite.com:2083

After you open your cPanel dashboard, locate the public_html folder. Inside, you’ll find the wp-content folder, which contains all of the data for your themes and plugins:

Locate the public_html folder and find the wp-content folder
Locate the public_html folder and find the wp-content folder

In wp-content, choose either the plugins or themes folder. This will depend on the software that you’re trying to install on your website:

Choose the plugins or themes folder
Choose the plugins or themes folder

If you’d like to delete a certain plugin, open the plugins folder and look for a folder named after that plugin. Here, we’ll use the Jetpack plugin as an example:

Delete the plugin you need to
Deleting the Jetpack plugin as an example

Select the folder, right-click on it and choose Delete. Be careful not to remove the entire plugins folder, just the folder with the specific plugin name:

Remember to only delete the plugin, not the entire plugins folder
Delete the plugin only

If you need to delete a theme, you can walk through these same steps. You’ll simply need to open the themes folder and delete the file named after the desired theme instead.

Once you return to your WordPress dashboard, you should notice that the plugin or theme was removed from your website. Now, you can try to re-install the software again.

3. Delete the Existing Folder With WP-CLI

As a more efficient method, you can delete an existing folder using the WordPress CLI, or WP-CLI. This is WordPress’s command-line interface, which you can use to perform many administrative tasks.

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Since WP-CLI has a text-based interface, you can implement commands to delete plugins, add user roles, moderate comments, and more. This can be much faster than having to navigate through site files in an FTP client. However, keep in mind that this method requires some experience with WP-CLI commands, which can be difficult for beginners.

To get started using WP-CLI, you’ll first have to make sure to meet the minimum requirements. It’s recommended that you have a UNIX-like environment, PHP version 5.6 or later, and at least WordPress 3.7.

Once you have ensured you meet the requirements, go to your MyKinsta dashboard. In the SFTP/SSH information, find the SSH terminal command:

Find the SSH terminal command in MyKinsta
Find the SSH terminal command

Next, you can copy and paste this command into the terminal. After you enter the password for your Kinsta account, you should be able to access your site files:

Copy and paste this command into the terminal
Copy and paste this command into the terminal

If you need to delete an existing theme, you can use this command:

$ wp theme delete twentytwelve</code

You’ll simply need to replace ‘twentytwelve’ with your theme name. Alternatively, you can enter this command to delete a plugin:

$ wp plugin delete hello</code

Instead of ‘hello’, be sure to include the name of the specific plugin you want to remove.

Once you see that your command was successful, you can return to your WordPress dashboard. This should allow you to upload the desired theme or plugin again without receiving an error.

4. Download the File Manager Plugin

If you don’t want to take the time to connect to an FTP client or WP-CLI, you can download the File Manager plugin. With this tool, you can edit, delete, and upload folders without ever leaving your WordPress dashboard:

FileManager plugin
FileManager

First, go to Plugins > Add New. After searching for the File Manager plugin, install and activate it:

Install and activate the plugin
Install and activate the file manager plugin

Then, click on the WP File Manager tab. Here, you’ll see your site files, similar to using an FTP client or cPanel:

Click on the WP File Manager tab
Click on the WP File Manager tab

Now, you’ll need to find the existing destination folder. To do this, navigate to public > wp-content:

Navigate to public then wp-content
Navigate to public > wp-content

If you need to delete a certain theme, double-click on the themes folder. For plugins, click on the plugins folder. Find the specific theme or plugin you want to delete. Like the other methods on this list, you can right-click on the folder and simply delete it:

Find the plugin you want and delete it
Find the plugin you want and delete it

To finish the removal process, select Remove. This will automatically delete the folder for that piece of software:

Click on the Remove button to finish the process
Click on the Remove button to finish the process

Finally, go back to your Plugins or Themes page. You’ll see that the plugin or theme was deactivated and the file was removed:

WordPress letting you know the plugin was deactivated
WordPress lets you know the plugin was deactivated

Now you can re-upload the correct software! You shouldn’t see the “Installation Failed: Destination Folder Already Exists” error anymore.

After you’ve successfully uploaded a new tool, keep in mind that it’s best to carefully monitor the performance of your site in the following days, as your new software could be incompatible with your pre-existing add-ons. With Kinsta, you can easily keep an eye on your site’s performance using our APM Tool.

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Summary

If you see the “Installation Failed: Destination Folder Already Exists” error when you try to install a plugin or theme, there’s no need to worry. You can simply delete the existing folder so that WordPress can continue with the installation process.

To review, here are four methods you can use to fix this error in WordPress:

  1. Replace the existing folder with an uploaded file.
  2. Delete the existing folder using an FTP client or cPanel.
  3. Remove the existing folder with WP-CLI.
  4. Download the File Manager plugin to delete the folder.

When troubleshooting the “Installation Failed: Destination Folder Already Exists” error, you’ll likely need to go through the trouble of contacting your hosting provider for server login credentials. However, with a managed WordPress hosting plan from Kinsta, you can easily find information about SFTP and WP-CLI access directly in your MyKinsta dashboard!


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