Webtrees Upgrade

A Webtrees upgrade of your family tree software can be done automatically or manually by following the following step-by-step instructions and both methods are described below. It is advisable to always make sure you have a current Webtrees backup before proceeding.

Automatic Webtrees Upgrade

Webtrees checks regularly to see if there is a new version. If there is, a message is displayed when you next log in, together with a link that will automatically upgrade your version of Webtrees when you click on it.

On most occasions these updates will complete within a minute or less, but if the upgrade will not complete you will need to do the upgrade manually.

Some of the reasons for not being able to automatically upgrade include the following:

  • If you have been advised by your hosting company, or if you have decided yourself, to change the settings of your /data folder to 777, then the automatic upgrade will fail.
  • The upgrade requires about 130MB of disc space, so if you have less than that amount of empty space the automatic upgrade will fail.
  • The upgrade requires a large CPU and memory usage, so if the upgrade exceeds the CPU time limit or memory of your server it will fail.

Automatic Updates

If there is a new version of webtrees available, a message will tell you when you log in.

Page indicating upgrade is required

Clicking on the link will tell you the upgrade is available automatically.

Page indicating upgrade can be automated

Clicking on the ‘continue’ button will start the automatic upgrade.

Completion of upgrade

Click on the ‘continue’ button once the upgrade is complete. It will take you to your control panel where you will see a message to show you are using the latest version of webtrees.

Control Panel indicating newest version is installed

Upgrading Manually

Upgrading manually can be done in a few second in four stages, but before you do so I would urge you to take a backup of your site, or at the very least backup the data/ folder which contains all your important information.

  1. Upload new compressed Webtrees file to your computer.
  2. Upload new compressed Webtrees file from your computer to your server.
  3. Uncompress the webtrees file on your server.
  4. Replace existing files and folders with new files and folders.

Stage One – Upload Compressed Webtrees to Computer

You should download the most recent version of Webtrees to your computer. It will be a compressed file but you should NOT un-compress it.

Stage Two – Upload Compressed Webtrees to Server

Log into your cPanel main page, go to the ‘Files‘ section and then click on the ‘File manager‘ link.

The following instructions assume all your Webtrees files are located directly into your public folder. If they are not at public_html/ but are instead located at public_html/webtrees/ you will need to adjust the instructions accordingly.

Find the public folder in the left-hand column. This is usually called public_html. 

When you click on the public folder in the left-hand column, it will display all your webtrees content in the main central area.

Select the ‘load‘ or ‘upload‘ button in the top menu, then on the ‘Select‘ button to select the compressed Webtrees file from your computer and then click on ‘Open‘ Once completed you should return to the main files section, where the centre column will should look exactly the same except there will be an additional webtrees.zip file.

Stage Three – Un-compress Webtrees File on Server

The Webtrees file you have uploaded is a compressed file, so now you need to un-compress it. You do this by selecting the file and clicking on the ‘Extract‘ button on the top menu, then on ‘Extract files‘ in the pop-up window, and then (when it’s finished) on the ‘Close‘ button. When you return to the main files section, the centre column should look the same as when you started but with the additional webtrees.zip file now accompanied by an additional folder names ‘webtrees‘ which contains the new uncompressed Webtrees files and folders.

You now have a webtrees file (the compressed file ending with .zip or gz.zip) and an uncompressed webtrees folder. You no longer need the compressed folder so it can be deleted by clicking on it and selecting ‘Remove‘ from the top menu.

Stage Four – Replace Old Files/Folders with New Files/Folders

All the new folders and files you need are in the ‘webtrees‘ folder but we need to move them into your ‘public_html‘ folder so they replace the files that are already there. To do this, double-click on the ‘webtrees‘ folder. You will see the folder itself will move into the left hand side column and all the contents of that folder will be listed in the main column.

Select every file and folder in the main column, then click on the ‘Move‘ button from the top menu.

The box that appears will list all your files and folders, will ask you where you want to move things to, and will show you where they are now. The image below shows they are currently at  /public_html/webtrees

Installation 003

Your need to move your files out of the ‘webtrees‘ folder and place them directly within the ‘public_html’ folder. This is done by clicking in the bottom box (which shows the current location of /public_html/webtrees) and delete the word ‘webtrees’ (so the new location would be /public_html/) as displayd below.

Installing webtrees files 004

Once you are ready click on the ‘Move File(s)‘ button. You will be asked if you want to replace the files that are already there, and you do want to replace them.

Once the move has been completed click on the ‘Go up one level‘ link.

If you click on the public_html folder in the left hand column, the central column should now contain all your webtrees folders and files, but still with the new ‘webtrees‘ folder  This new folder, which should now be empty, can be deleted by clicking on it and selecting ‘Remove‘ in the top menu.


The folder containing your family tree, media files, and configuration settings is the data/ folder, and this is the most important folder you have. The new data/ folder included in the upgrade only includes .htacccess and index.php files so the above procedure should only replace those files and leave everything else in the folder intact. Your upgrade should have completed without any problems (you may need to clear your browser). If something has unfortunately gone wrong, you should only need to replace the data/ folder with the backup of the data/ folder you were advised to make.

If any database upgrades are required after your webtrees upgrade, these will happen automatically when you next visit the site. For this reason, the first page may take longer than usual to be displayed.