Content writing, SEO optimizations, design modifications, maintenance: your daily life as a webmaster is populated by multiple tasks. More or less important tasks depending on the type of site to be maintained, and your needs.
Your site, you pamper it. You pamper him. You look at him with tender eyes. It’s your baby.
The daily life of a webmaster also means making radical decisions, which are sometimes a bit heartbreaking. Today you may need to delete your WordPress site, for example.
And as long as you do, you might as well proceed according to the rules of the art. After reading this article, you will know all the steps to follow, thanks to a detailed step-by-step tutorial.
This tutorial is about the self-hosted WordPress.org solution, which WPMarmite uses. It should not be confused with the WordPress.com hosting platform. Need clarification? Find the differences between the two versions in this article. And if you ever want to delete a WordPress.com site, I refer you to the official documentation.
Why delete a WordPress site?
Before detailing the procedure for deleting a WordPress site, let’s take a moment to discuss the reasons that may lead you to take such an action.
Indeed, it is nothing out of the ordinary. By permanently deleting your WP site, it will disappear from all radars. You will no longer be able to access your files and its contents.
Your visitors, meanwhile, will no longer be able to land on your pages when they search for your site on a search engine, or when they enter its URL (web address) in their favorite browser.
By deleting a site, you draw a final line on it, as well as the repercussions it can generate:
you will no longer generate traffic because you will become invisible;
- you will no longer be able to make conversions, which are essential to make your business work (sales, downloading a white paper, requesting a quote, subscribing to your newsletter).
Even if it means insisting, we repeat ourselves: think carefully before taking action. Several reasons can lead you to want to delete a WordPress site. Among them, we can cite, for example, the following scenarios:
- your WordPress site or blog is abandoned. You want to get rid of it because it does not meet your initial expectations. Its traffic is too low or sales are not there;
- you no longer have time to take care of your site (maintenance, content creation), which is no longer strategic for your business. In this case, you choose to delete it permanently;
- your website no longer represents your personal or professional activityfor example because you have changed direction or reoriented yourself in another sector of activity;
- you want to start from scratch by launching a new site on a different themewith a new domain name and another graphic and brand identity;
- you want to merge your current site/blog with another website.
So, deleting your WordPress site is still in your little papers? If so, be aware that WordPress does not have a native option to perform this action in a few clicks, from your dashboard.
To achieve this, you will have to get your hands dirty and erase different elements one by one, in several strategic places.
Thanks to this, you will be sure to permanently remove all traces of your site from the internet.
Come on, let me reassure you before we jump into the water: all this is not complex, even if you are a beginner.
In the following section, discover a detailed, step-by-step user guide.
Step 1: Back up the site
The first step is a little counter-intuitive but it remains essential: first of all, back up your site… even if you are about to delete it.
You can never be too careful. Keeping a warm copy of your files AND your database can be useful if you want to go back in a while and restore your site.
Okay, that’s not in your plans at all today. But who tells you that you will not change your mind in a few months?
To back up your site, you have several options. The manual method works perfectly, but it requires a minimum of technical knowledge.
The quickest and easiest option for a novice is to use an extension. We present some of them to you in this content.
Among them, we recommend in particular UpdraftMore. Easy to learn and very complete in the free version, it allows you to automatically plan your backups, while exporting them to a remote storage space (such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3).
Step 2: Delete Site Files
Have you backed up your site? All right, let’s move on to the next step. Deleting a WordPress site then involves deleting the two major components of any WordPress installation:
- the fileswhich allow the Heart (Core in English) WordPress to work;
- the databasewhich contains all your site content (posts, pages, plugin settings, comments, reviews, etc.).
So let’s start with the files. You can delete them in two ways. See all this in detail, just below.
Method 1: Clear WordPress Site Files via cPanel
We start with the least technical and most direct method to delete your files: use the administration interface offered by your host. The most used is called cPanel.
You will find it for example at o2switch, the host that WPMarmite has been using for several years. We will use this interface to show you the procedure to follow.
Note that each host’s cPanel is different. The display and the options offered may vary slightly depending on the service provider you are using.
To access your cPanel, you need the login credentials (username + password) provided by your host when you have subscribed to its hosting offer.
Once connected, in the “Files” box, click on “File manager”. Click on the root directory of your site, in our case
public_html. In your country, this name can also be
Select all the files and directories present in the root folder. Right-click and choose “Delete” (Delete):
If you auto-installed your WordPress site using an auto-installer like Softaculous, you can also remove it there. On the cPanel of o2switch, Softaculous is located in the “Softaculous Apps Installer” insert.
Method 2: Delete WordPress files via FTP
Are you more adventurous and not afraid to get wet? The other alternative to deleting files from a WordPress site is to use a ftp-client (File Transfer ProtocolFile Transfer Protocol).
This is software that allows you to communicate with your server. Thanks to it, you can send files and folders present on your computer to your online hosting server.
For the purposes of this test, I will use FileZilla. It is an open source FTP client that works on any environment (Windows, MacOS, Linux).
You want to compete: bet on Cyberduck or Transmit.
To connect to an FTP client, same remark as for access to a cPanel. Access identifiers were provided to you when you purchased your hosting offer, with 4 main data:
- the connecting host;
- the port;
- the password.
When you have connected to your FTP, locate the folder
public_html and select all of its content. Using a right click, then choose “Delete” to finish:
Step 3: Delete the database
Flexion, extension. Remember: along with files, the database (db) is the second main element of a WordPress site.
Let’s tackle its removal right away. Here again, our friend cPanel will give us a precious helping hand.
Go back to his place and locate the “Databases” box. Click on “MySQL Databases”:
At the level of the databases created, identify the one on your site. To delete it, click on the “Delete” link.
Also remember to delete the users associated with your database. You will find them in the “Current users” section, at the bottom of the same page. Again, click “Delete” at the user level of your choice.
More files, more database: you now know how to delete a WordPress site at o2switch. 😉 Remember that the process will be the same with other hosts (OVH, Ionos, etc.): if they don’t use cPanel, only the proposed interface will change.
You can also delete your database using the phpMyAdmin tool, which allows you to manage the administration of a database. You can access it on cPanel by going to the Databases > phpMyAdmin menu.
Step 4: Delete the domain name
We are of course cPanel, right, with its clear and airy interface? I suggest you stay there a few more moments to carry out an essential operation: delete the domain name associated with your WordPress site (only if you no longer wish to use it).
To do this, select “Configured Domains” in the “Domains” box. Click on the “Manage” icon. On the line corresponding to the domain name of your choice, choose “Delete”:
Your domain name will appear in “Configured Domains” only if you purchased it from o2switch. If you bought it from another registrar (registrar), it will have to be configured in the DNS of the accommodation so that it appears here.
Well, congratulations! You have successfully taken your WordPress site offline. Its content is no longer accessible on the internet. However, there is still a problem.
If you go to a search engine and type in the name of your site, you will find that it continues to be visible online: its pages are still accessible in search results. It’s not really what you want, I guess.
However, this is normal: your site has been indexed in the past, and it takes a little time for search engine robots to come back to your pages and find that they no longer contain content.
When you want to permanently delete a WordPress site, you’re often in a hurry and you don’t want to wait.
The rest of the operations will detail how to speed up the process, in order to erase all traces of your site from search engines.
Step 5: Delete content on Google
Speaking of search engines, we will focus primarily on Google, used by more than 90% of Internet users in France.
In its documentationGoogle offers two ways to delete a page hosted on your WordPress site.
First scenario: the quick (but temporary) method
“To remove a page hosted on your site from Google search results within one day”, Google recommends using its URL Removal Tool. This will temporarily block a web page from appearing in search results, for “approximately 6 months”.
To do this, you must have a Google Search Console property (your site must have been added to this tool).
As for how to proceed:
- select the property (your website) on Google Search Console;
- in the “Temporary deletions” tab, click on the red “New request” button;
- in the highlighted window that opens, enter your URL, then click “Next” to complete the procedure.
Second scenario: the definitive method
To permanently block a page from Google’s search results, the search engine recommends implementing one of the following 3 actions:
- Remove or update content from your WordPress site by deleting it from your hosting server. In principle, on that side, it’s all good. To go further, you can also do a request to remove outdated contentbut it requires approval from Google.
- Block access to the content of your website pages via a password.
- Add a tag
noindexto your page, so that it is not indexed by Google.
Google does not recommend blocking crawlers from accessing pages on your site by adding a directive in your file
robots.txt. Indeed, despite this, a page can still be indexed if other sites reference it.
When you delete a page from the Google search engine, you are only deleting it on… Google. It goes without saying.
Unfortunately, this means the result may still show up on other competing engines like Bing and Yahoo, to name a few. Also remember to do what is necessary at home, by consulting their documentation.
Also, don’t forget to remove the links to your website on your various social networks, your Google My Business page, or your e-mail signature.
Step 6: Delete the site archives
Well, you are well on your way to deleting a WordPress site. You’ve done most of the work.
However, traces of your site, in the form of captures, may exist on the site. Internet Archive.
The latter appears as a non-profit organization that archives content on the web : web pages, books, films, software, etc.
This gigantic database contains nearly 700 billion cached web pages. To find out if one of yours is there, enter its URL in the Wayback Machine box, and see what it returns:
If your WordPress site is listed, contact the managers of the Internet Archive by e-mail asking them to delete the site from their archives.
This time, it’s all good: you have managed to completely delete a WordPress site, from A to Z.
Since the beginning of this article, I have introduced you to the manual method to delete a WordPress site.
But after all, on that good old WP plugins directory populated by 59,638 plugins, isn’t there a lucky one that allows you to make your WP site disappear with the wave of a magic wand, in a few clicks?
After examination, I have the sadness to announce to you that not. Finally, on closer inspection, there is still one likely to come a little closer to the desired objective. Her name ? WPReset.
The latter allows you to reset WordPress, in particular by restoring the default settings of the database.
With it, you won’t be able to delete a WordPress site from the ground up like you would manually. But you can get closer, since WP Reset can remove all your customizations and content (without modifying your files, however).
You can use it in certain very specific cases, which do not necessarily require deleting a site entirely. I am thinking, for example, of the following situations:
- when you need to test your sitein staging or locally, and you need to reset the site very quickly, without reinstalling everything;
- a hack that requires cleaning and resetting the site to be able to install its latest backup.
So, are you interested in WP Reset? We present it to you in detail in this tutorial that we have dedicated to it.
If you are reading these lines, it is probably because you have the firm intention of deleting your WordPress site.
However, in some cases, it is not necessary to arrive at such an outcome, depending on your objectives. This is the case, for example, if you only want to make your site or a page temporarily invisible.
In this case, “unpublishing” your site will be sufficient. Here’s how to do it in 3 different situations.
Solution #1: Use a maintenance plugin
Are you working on the creation or redesign of your WordPress site and do not want your visitors to see the various progress of your project?
Activate a maintenance extension to let your visitors know that your site will be available on such a date, for example. With this, you can temporarily shut down your WordPress site.
Many maintenance plugins are struggling within the WP ecosystem. We present 10 of them to you in this complete test. For information, the one we found the most complete is SeedProd (aff link).
Solution #2: Make a page private on the content editor
Sometimes you just need to make a page or post invisible for a certain amount of time. This is the case, for example, if you want to make some changes to the content or design.
Or if you want to share content internally, without the public being able to see it.
Regarding the procedure, it is very simple. Whether for a post or a page, go to the content in question on the content editor.
Under the “Visibility” option, click on “Public”, then select “Private”:
Solution #3: Ask search engines not to index your site
Finally, I would like to discuss with you one last option. In the WordPress settings, at the menu level Reading > Visibility by search enginesyou can tell search engines not to index your site:
I warn you all the same with this option: it is good to know that it exists, but do not activate it!
When you check it, search engines will no longer index your site: they will no longer classify the URLs of your pages in their database. As a result, they will no longer be able to display them in search results.
As a result, your site will no longer be visible on Google and others. And when you uncheck the option, you take the risk that Google will take several weeks or even months before indexing your content again. As you can see, this option is really to be handled with infinite precaution.
For some reason X or Y, it is possible that you will one day be faced with the need to delete a WordPress site.
To achieve this, you have notably discovered throughout these lines that it is necessary to:
- remove two key components from any WP site : files and database;
- get rid of the content of your site present on Google ;
At the same time, don’t forget that it is possible to reset a WordPress site without having to delete it from A to Z. You can also make it invisible temporarily, whether in its entirety or at the level of a page or of one item only.
Do you have any comments or feedback on the subject? Let us know by writing a comment, and let’s continue the discussion. 😉