WordPress Reverting Default Theme Fix

Recently, I talked about how a member of the WP Pinoys forum encountered a problem using Extended Live Archives on WP 2.3. This time, another member complained about a WordPress blog that keeps on reverting to the default theme. When I checked the WP support forums, it seems that this is an issue that’s been bothering many WordPress users.

Why does this happen? Although this can be annoying, it is one of the safety features of WordPress. When WordPress thinks that something is wrong or missing from the theme you’re using, it would revert back to the default theme. So instead of showing errors or a blank page, your blog would still be accessible with the default theme. If you’re experiencing this problem, here are a few working solutions that might help you fix it.

First scenario: Uninstalled or deactivated all plugins but problem still exists.

  • Make a copy of your current theme’s folder and save it in a different location.
  • Rename the theme folder to “default
  • Delete the default theme folder from your wp-content/themes folder
  • Upload the new “default” folder to your wp-content/themes folder
  • Activate theme

By renaming the theme folder, it tricked WordPress into thinking that it’s the default theme. This method should fix most instances of this problem.

Second scenario: Installed the WordPress Mobile Edition plugin and problem started to exist.

  • Deactivate the WordPress Mobile Edition plugin
  • Delete the wp-mobile folder from your wp-content/plugins folder
  • Upload wp-mobile.php to your wp-content/plugins folder
  • Upload wp-mobile folder (comments.php, index.php & style.css) to your wp-content/themes folder
  • Activate the plugin

The problem is not with the plugin but with incorrect installation. Most likely, after downloading and unzipping the plugin folder, you just went ahead and dumped everything to your wp-content/plugins folder. Big mistake! You should have read the instructions first. What happened was you didn’t put the wp-mobile theme folder in the right location which is the wp-content/themes folder. So when a mobile user tried to access your blog, WordPress couldn’t find the missing wp-mobile theme and reverted it back to the default theme.

If this still doesn’t work for you, it could probably be another plugin that you have installed. Try deactivating the plugins one by one and see if you can single out the culprit.

Third scenario: All plugins uninstalled/deactivated or haven’t installed the WordPress Mobile Edition plugin and problem still exists.

  • Download the wp-settings.php file and save it on your computer
  • Open it with a text editor and look for this line: validate_current_theme()
  • Delete that line, save the file and upload it back to your WordPress folder

If these solutions doesn’t work for you, then you’ll have to dig deeper or try different solutions. This is a very complicated problem that seems to happen to any type of WordPress installation. What I’ve done here is provide a few working solutions that might help.

Lastly, a friendly reminder. Before installing any WordPress plugin, make sure that you READ THE INSTRUCTIONS in the plugin page or the README.txt file that comes with it.

Have you or someone you know experienced this problem? Aside from the WordPress Mobile Edition plugin, do you know of any other plugins or other stuff that can cause this problem? If you are experiencing this problem and the above fixes doesn’t work for you, let me know and I’ll try my best to help you.

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  1. @Riz – Hi! Hmm, that’s interesting. Do you use WP Cache or any similar plugins? Do you do edit/modify theme files locally or remotely via SFTP? I’m asking these questions coz I want to narrow down the causes.

    Sometimes, you don’t realize it but you uploaded the modified file into a wrong folder or you thought you uploaded the modified file but you didn’t. These things happen. I know coz it happens to me once in a while. :D

  2. Hey jaypee, what about the theme reverting back to its old revision, even after modifying it. Say, I modified this theme by Brian Gardner before, and several months after I made another revision, which was successful only it keeps reverting back to the first modification. And i hate it. :( You have an idea how to go about this? :(

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