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How to Delete all WordPress Content and Start Over

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As a WordPress administrator, there are many reasons you may want to delete your blog. Whether it’s because you’re removing a test install, are rebranding or rebuilding, or have been locked out, I’ll walk you through deleting websites created with WordPress. 

Remember, when you delete your WordPress blog, you are also giving your WordPress a clean database. Make sure you have a backup up of the server in case you want to access anything later.

Using a Plug-in

This option might be easier for you if you have some WordPress experience but are not a guru yet. If you need help installing plug-ins, refer to this article. 

You should ensure that you have read the basic documentation of the plug-in you decide to use, so you understand the consequences before installing one. Below are two plug-ins that have wizards that will walk you through deleting your WordPress content:

  • Advanced WP Reset – This plug-in is straightforward to use and doesn’t require you to touch a command-line. It is called “Advanced” because it will take you through how to delete all WordPress content and start over, but it gives you more flexibility.
 
  • WP Database Reset – This plug-in is more specialized than “Advanced WP Reset.” This allows you to delete any or all of your database tables, essentially acting as an intricate “WordPress Clean Database” command.

Deleting WordPress Content by Hand

If you’d prefer, you can delete everything from websites created with WordPress by hand. I strongly recommend taking this approach if you are confident with the WordPress CLI

Many years ago, when I made my first website with WordPress, this is the approach I took because I was a bit too confident in myself. Without even looking up “how to delete all WordPress content and start over,” I went ahead and tried doing it on my own. I was left with a very sad-looking page with a broken database, and I ended up asking my old web host to cancel my account.

I’m hoping to help you avoid making the same mistake with these detailed instructions that will let you delete everything (and not have an embarrassing encounter with a web host technician!). Check out the next section of the article to get started!

DIY WordPress Clean Slate

So, you’ve decided to go on the “no plug-in” route. Just follow these steps:

Step #1 Some Assembly Required

 Grab the following info and tools before embarking on your journey:

  • Server FTP or SSH Username and Password or Key
  • DBMS Login Information
  • Any FTP Software (see below)

FTP Software Options

Here are some great FTP clients with a user interface for each type of major platform:

Step #2 Completing the Reset

After obtaining the info and installing the software listed above, you can go ahead with resetting your WordPress site.

Step #3 Database Removal

Go into your web host’s administrator panel. There should be an option called “Databases.” Select that.

WordPress uses MySQL, so select that if you see a variety of DBMS variants. Your WordPress database’s name will likely begin with “wp,” so delete databases with this prefix.

Your host might utilize different database prefixes. If no databases begin with “wp,” then ask a server technician for guidance before deleting anything.

Step #4 Starting a Fresh Database

Using the same panel, add a MySQL database with the same name as the one you just deleted. 

Add a user with the same username and password as the old one to the empty database you just made. 

Note that some panels do not have this option. Don’t worry! This is where the FTP client comes in. FTP into your WordPress host. Once you’re in, head into the public_html folder, and you should find a file called “wp-config.php.” Open that in your system’s default text editor. 

Use Ctrl+F or Cmd+F on Mac, and search for “MySQL Settings.” There should be a few PHP define functions there. These functions have two mandatory parameters. The first is the variable to define (such as ‘DB_NAME’), and the second is what to set it to.

 There should be two “define” functions: one to define ‘DB_USER,’ and the other to define ‘DB_PASSWORD.’ Plug the information into the second parameter of those functions.

Step #5 Removing the Rest

Now your database is wiped, but the rest of your content isn’t. Jump into the wp-content folder. Using your FTP client, delete everything except your themes folder, since you will need at least one theme left!

After everything other than the themes folder is left, navigate into the themes folder. Delete everything other than the folder with the name of the theme you want to keep.

Step #6 Wrapping It Up

The very last step of this process is to re-install WordPress. At this point, you still have your domain name and ready-to-use WordPress installation script.

Go to [your domain]/wp-admin/install.php quickly, since malicious crawlers are looking to open installation scripts online.

From there on out, you can just follow the steps WordPress wizard presents.

Good Luck!

Whether you chose to use a plug-in or followed the “DIY” steps, I wish you the best of luck on your WordPress endeavors!

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