You probably need to manually install or update WordPress plugins when you cannot do it in the WordPress dashboard. If you are using plugins other than the repository, maybe from other developers or Envato ThemeForest, it is better to know this manual way to install, update and delete plugins directly from the hosting file manager/ hosting control panel.
In order to achieve this, you should be able to log in to your Hosting Account and you should also have knowledge of using FTP client like FileZilla.
I have shared all the things you should know before installing/ updating plugins/themes from the hosting control panel. Before you proceed further, it is better to have this idea below.
When you add a new Plugin to WordPress, it will soon register its tables in the database. When the plugin is deleted, databases will remain. If you re-install the plugin, all the previous settings will be preserved* as it is.
*Some plugins give an option to the user to delete its tables (complete uninstall) when the plugin is deleted from WordPress. Also, know that some plugins allow you to add custom CSS inside the plugin options. Some plugins preserve the CSS upon deletion and some don’t. hence if you enter any custom CSS inside the plugin options, keep a copy somewhere else, just in case. Now, let’s move back to our topic.
Assembling the Plugins Before Upload
If you have no prior experience installing plugins manually, let me inform you that, WordPress accepts a folder as a plugin when it is directly accessible to it.
First, connect to your Hosting Account either through Control Panel or FTP. In the case of FTP, upload files directly. Do not upload the zip file. If you upload ZIP, you need to extract it by logging back to the control panel.
You may have received a ZIP file of the Plugin. First, extract that in your PC. When you open the extracted folder, with a single click, you should be able to see its contents inside. You should not get one more folder inside with plugin contents. If you have downloaded themes/ plugins from Envato Market, you will probably get multiple folders inside.
Uploading Plugin Folder
Once the file is ready, you will upload it to our public_html/ wp-content/ plugins/ pluginfolder as in the infographic. Red is the wrong way, Green is the right way.
/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pluginfolder/ (Plugin Contents Here)
/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pluginfolder/pluginfolder/ (Plugin Contents Here)
If you use the ‘Hosting File Manager’ to upload files, you can directly upload the ZIP file. Extract it there itself and finally manage to look like the green infographic by moving folders if necessary. Later you can delete the uploaded ZIP file.
If you use the FTP method with an FTP client like FileZilla, you can upload the ZIP file through it. You cannot extract it. (You require extensions for that, not recommended though). Instead what you will do is manually extract a folder with plugin contents inside on your PC and upload it through FileZilla.
If the Plugin is large, it will consume more time to get uploaded which depends on the number of files inside. Hence I prefer the ‘Hosting File Manager’ method. If you are running your website on any Cloud platform, like Cloudways or Custom VPS, you don’t have any other option, you must use the FTP method.
By the above method, you already have installed the plugin for your WordPress. You are just required to activate it. Visit your WordPress dashboard and simply activate it.