WordPress Plugin Update Failed! IIS 7+ Fix

March 24, 2014

I recently rebuilt my Windows Server and, of course, opened a can of worms in the process. As part of my adventure, I was required to re-install WordPress and restore my website from an archive.

After using the XCloner backup plugin to restore my WordPress content and database, I tried to update a few plugins that were out of date via the web-based administrative dashboard. After 30 seconds of “waiting,” WordPress came back to me with the sad news that my plugins FAILED to update. Great! I had a feeling this meant the permissions on my WordPress folders behind the scenes were not set properly, so I took a few steps to fix this.

Thankfully, my problem was immediately solved! (This does not always happen.) Therefore, definitely noteworthy are the steps below to allow WordPress to update your website from the web-based administrative dashboard.

  1. From the IIS Manager, click Application Pools on the left, in the server tree.
  2. Select the application pool for your website in the list and click Advanced Settings on the right.
  3. Find the Identity property for the application pool, click … and change the value to a Custom account, e.g., Administrator (not Network Service or IUSR). Commit this change.
  4. Right-click on your website, choose Manage Website, and then Advanced Settings.
  5. For the Physical Credentials property, set the Specific User by clicking the … and entering the same credentials as specified for the Application Pool Identity. Commit this change.
  6. In Windows Explorer, find the location of your WordPress website folder, select it, right-click it, and choose Properties.
  7. Under the Security tab, make sure the Application Pool Identity you selected in IIS has Full control of the WordPress directory. If not, edit the permissions for the user (or add the user) and specify Full control. Commit this change.
  8. Restart your web server in the IIS Manager by selecting it in the tree and clicking Restart on the right, under Manage Server.

Running WordPress in a Windows environment has always been a less-than-straightforward effort, but things work quite well right out of the box, these days. With a few adjustments after installation, things are generally running smoothly in short order.