Fix WordPress Issue “Destination folder already exists”

Sometimes WordPress users try to install theme or plugin and get an error message “Destination folder already exists” along with “Theme install failed” or “Plugin install failed”. They don’t know why the WordPress is generating this error, which folder already exists on what destination as the error says and what it has to do with plugin or theme installation.

No need to worry as in this detailed tutorial we have explained below why the WordPress displays “Destination folder already exists” error message and how you can resolve it easily.

Destination Folder Already Exists
Destination Folder Already Exists

What does “Destination folder already exists” error mean?

The “Destination folder already exists” error means the theme or plugin that you are trying to install is already installed on your WordPress site and you can’t install it again until you uninstall or remove the existing version.

The error message not only displays on installing new theme/plugin but this also displays on updating it using zip file when the old version of it still exists.

Why the WordPress displays “Destination folder already exists” error?

Generally when you install WordPress theme or plugin, WordPress just extracts and copies the folder from its zip file and pastes it into wp-content/themes or wp-content/plugins directory respectively. But sometimes as the copied folder already exists in the respective directory, WordPress cannot copy it and it displays this error message.

This happens when the theme/plugin is already installed on the site or if the theme/plugin file is corrupt or missing or if the wp-content folder is renamed on the site.

How you can resolve the “Destination folder already exists” error on your site?

Depending on whether you are getting this error installing theme or plugin, you can resolve it as described below.

Resolve “Destination folder already exists…Theme install failed” error

Using following various solutions, you can resolve the “Destination folder already exists” error that you get along with “Theme install failed” message when you try to install the theme.

Theme install failed
Theme install failed

Delete existing theme from WordPress admin area

If you see the same theme in the themes screen in your WordPress site admin area that you are trying to install, just delete it from there so that you can install new version of it. Before deleting this theme, please take backup of this theme or your whole site so that if anything goes wrong in the future and you need old version of theme then you can get it.

You cannot delete the active theme from your site so, if the theme that you are trying to delete is active theme then please activate any other theme like default WordPress theme so that you can delete the theme.

Delete existing theme from WordPress admin area
Delete existing theme from WordPress admin area

Sometimes you don’t see the old theme in your site admin area as it may be corrupted or missed some files so you cannot use this solution and instead have to use any of the below solutions.

Rename the new theme folder before installing it

To resolve the error, you can just rename the new theme folder so that it will not conflict with existing folder in wp-content/themes directory having same name.

To do this just follow the below steps

  1. Unzip the newer theme zip file.
  2. Rename the unzipped folder to anything else randomly, e.g. change the twentysixteen to twentysixteen-new.
  3. Again zip the newly renamed theme folder.
  4. Upload the newly created zip file to your WordPress site, install and activate the theme.
Rename the new theme folder
Rename the new theme folder

This solution has some drawbacks as following.

  1. New theme may not get updates as the theme folder is changed.
  2. You will be confused which theme to activate in WordPress themes sreen as both old and new themes will display same name.

If you are not comfortable with these issues, then you can instead use the next solution.

Delete existing theme using FTP or cPanel File Manager

If you can not access or delete the existing theme from WordPress admin area then it is most likely due to missing or corrupt theme file. In this case, you can use FTP or cPanel File Manager or any other remote file manager tool like SSH to delete the existing theme that is conflicting with the theme you are trying to install.

Just use the remote file manager like FTP with Filezilla client and connect it to your website hosting server using its crednetials. After connecting please access the wp-content/themes directory and delete the folder of existing theme having same name as the theme you are trying to install like displayed in the below screenshot. Do backup the theme folder before deleting it.

Delete existing theme using FTP
Delete existing theme using FTP

Resolve “Destination folder already exists…Plugin install failed” error

Use the below solutions to resolve the issue, if you get an error “Destination folder already exists” with message “Plugin install failed” when you try to install plugin.

Plugin Install Failed
Plugin Install Failed

Delete existing plugin from WordPress admin area

To resolve the issue, just delete the existing conflicting plugin from plugins screen in your site admin area having same name like the plugin you want to install. Just take backup of this plugin or your site so that in the future you can use it to recover from the situation if anything accidental happens or just want to use old plugin.

The WordPress does not allow to delete the active plugin so to delete the plugin, you need to deactivate it first if it is active.

Delete existing plugin from WordPress admin area
Delete existing plugin from WordPress admin area

If you don’t see the plugin having same name in the plugins screen then try using below solution.

Rename the new plugin folder before installing it

You can resolve this issue by renaming the new plugin folder and using the renamed folder as explained below.

  1. Unzip the new plugin zip file.
  2. Rename the unzipped folder to anything else, e.g. change the Akismet to Akismet-new.
  3. Zip the newly renamed plugin folder.
  4. Upload the newly created plugin zip file to your WordPress site, install and activate the plugin.

Renaming the plugin folder will avoid the conflict that occurs on plugin installation when the WordPress tries to push same plugin folder which already exists in the wp-content/plugins directory.

Rename the new plugin folder
Rename the new plugin folder

This is very easier solution but you may face the below problems using it so just use the next solution if you want to avoid these problems.

  1. Changing the plugin folder may prevent the plugin to get new updates.
  2. There will be two plugins in the plugins screen having same name which may create confusion for you.

Delete existing plugin using cPanel File Manager or FTP

You need to use this solution to delete the existing conlficting plugin if you cannot access it in the plugins screen in your site admin area.

Using any remote file manager like cPanel File Manager, FTP or SSH etc. connect to your web host server. Then go to the wp-content/plugins directory and delete the folder in it having same name as the plugin name that you are trying to install. Take backup of plugin directory before removing it.

Delete existing plugin using cPanel
Delete existing plugin using cPanel

Other solutions to resolve the issue

In rare cases if none of the above solutions work for you, then using any remote file manager just temporary change the permissions of wp-content/themes or wp-content/plugins directories to 777 depending on what you are trying to install. Then install the theme or plugin and after successful intsllation change the directory permissions back to default.

If you still face the issue then just ask the question in our free support forum here http://freewptp.com/forum/wordpress-general-forum/ and we would help you to resolve the issue.

How you can avoid the “Destination folder already exists” error on your site?

You can avoid the “Destination folder already exists” error on your site by simply checking whether the plugin or theme you are trying to install already exist on your site and it it exists then delete it after taking backup of it.

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