Disable WordPress Plugins Using FTP

Are you trying to disable WordPress plugins on your site? If this is because you are facing an error, and you suspect they may be the cause, then you likely no longer have access to your admin panel at this point. In this case, you would need to disable WordPress plugins using FTP. You can also check our guide how to disable WordPress theme using FTP.

Without access to your admin panel, this offers you an easy workaround. You can manually disable WordPress plugins by accessing your files, and if indeed one of the plugins is the cause of your issue, that would restore your site to full function.

Steps to disable WordPress Plugins using FTP

To disable WordPress plugins without access to your admin panel, you would need to be able to access your WordPress site files. That is where FTP comes in.

Using an FTP client, you can access all files in your server and make needed changes. To do this, you would need your cPanel login and password and you may need to contact your Webhost for these details if you do not already have them.

When you have them, follow the steps in this guide to see how to access your site files using FileZilla FTP client.

After successfully accessing your site using FileZilla, your site files will be displayed on the bottom right as seen in the picture below.

FileZilla - Disable WordPress plugins using FTP

Now, you need to locate the folder containing your WordPress files. This folder is usually pubic_html when your WordPress site is located in your main domain (i.e. www.yourdomain.com). However, if your site is located in a subdomain (e.g. blog.yourdomain.com), then you should see a folder named after your subdomain, which would contain your file.

Double click on the folder containing your files to open it.

Open public_html - Disable WordPress plugins using FTP

Next, locate the wp_content folder and double-click to open it.

Open wp_content - Disable WordPress plugins using FTP

Right-click on the “plugins” folder. Select Rename from the options and change the name of this folder so WordPress no longer sees it.

Rename plugins folder - Disable WordPress plugins using FTP

Now reload your WordPress site to see if the error you encountered is fixed. If it is, then one of your plugins was responsible for this error.

The next step then will be to find out which plugin is causing your issue. To do this, rename the plugins folder back to the correct name (plugins) and refresh your site.

Now go to your plugins page on your dashboard (Plugins > Installed Plugins). You would be able to see all your plugins but they are all deactivated.

Activate plugins - Disable WordPress plugins using FTP

As shown in the picture above. Start activating the plugins one by one until you get to the one that triggers the error.

When you have found out the faulty plugin, you can once again deactivate all your plugins. Do it by renaming the plugins folder to something else, and then refreshing your site so it displays.

Next, rename the folder back to the correct name (plugins), and refresh your site. Now, go to your plugins page in your dashboard (Plugins > Installed Plugins) and delete the plugin causing this issue, before activating all others. You can also check our guide on how to install Gmail SMTP in WordPress to fix email issues.


Very often, an error in your WordPress site can be traced to a faulty plugin. If this was so in your case, the steps in this guide would have helped you disable WordPress plugins using FTP. After that, you should now have your site back live.

As WordPress users, we usually have to install plugins every now and then. Reality is that some are written poorly and can break our sites. Thus, we highly recommend that you always run ongoing backups of your WordPress site. With this in place, in the event that any error you run into leads to data loss. You can easily restore your site files and database.