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Deleting a WordPress website permanently removes its content and other files from the internet, unless backed up elsewhere.
You, of course, need to be the owner. In the event of copyright issues or legal content, the website owner or web host will need to be contacted.
Reasons for deletion include removing a website that you no longer use, or to start from scratch in order to merge your business elsewhere or shut it down.
How to Delete a WordPress Site Guide 🇬🇧
This how to delete a WordPress site guide will also cover removing all traces from the internet. It can take a while for search engine crawlers to realise that your website is inactive. And some archive sites, such as Wayback, permanently keep a trace — for this, head to the final section.
Choose the sections you want to go through according to your needs. If using WordPress via a web host such as Hostinger, you’ll want Option 2
Exporting your content as an XML file on your hard drive, before proceeding, gives you the option to quickly restore your site on another WordPress site after deletion, if needed.
In your WP Admin dashboard, select Tools >> Export.
WordPress makes this very simple. Your screen might look different to the one below: select to Export >> All Content and save it on your hard drive. This will be an XML file by default.
All pages, categories, posts, comments, navigation menus, and custom fields will be saved. Make a note of the theme you were using.
Deleting WordPress from WordPress.com
If you’re using WordPress.com hosting with a custom domain, deletion takes two more steps, and one if not. Most people will have used the .org download with an external host.
For Custom Domain Migration
Skip this step if you don’t have a custom domain name.
To take your site down from public viewing meanwhile, change WP into private mode.
Do this by login to WordPress.com.
On the dashboard, select Settings>> and ‘Private site’. After you do this, choose to ‘delete your site permanently’.
If you didn’t backup your website already, you have the option to export your content first. As we’ve already done that, simply choose to Delete Site.
Deleting WordPress from a Web Host
Most likely, you installed WordPress using the Softaculous auto-installer software, often nicknamed the ‘one click install’ method.
If, however, you used a manual installation via FTP or cPanel, you will need to also manually delete site files from the server. This section will give you instructions on deleting your WP website whatever method you used to first install it.
How to Delete WordPress Website Via cPanel’s Auto-Installer Software
Once again, use this method if you used a one-click auto-installer method that you originally installed WordPress (such as Softaculous) — first things first, login to your web host and head to the cPanel area.
Alternatively, to bring up your cPanel, you can just type in your domain name (e.g. hostingdata.co.uk) forward slash one of the following:
Depending on your web host, the cPanel area may look a little different. This is because web hosts today are offering their own way of organising cPanel. In terms of the subheadings you’re looking for, things should be located in the same location, so you follow this guide.
Let’s take Hostinger, here is where we need to head:
We need to find either the Softaculous or WordPress icon in cPanel’s Auto-Installer section. You may need to click around in order to find out where this section is located for your specific host, for instance here’s its location on SiteGround...
There’s also some differences with what to look for once you locate the installer originally used to install your website. With Hostinger, there are three vertical dots which give you the option to delete.
But, with SiteGround, you need to actually click the correct icon in order to bring up a list of domains with the domain entry or entries. You need to then click the red cross to delete your selected domain(s).
So if you have a different host, just have a look around for the deletion option. If there is no domain listed in this section, either you’ve chosen the wrong auto-installer, or your website was installed via FTP or cPanel, not via the web host. In the latter case, jump down to one of the next two sections.
If your website does not have cPanel access (most web hosts do have it), jump to the FTP Manual Deletion section below so you can continue deleting your WP site.
Delete WordPress From cPanel (Manual)
To do manual deletion, once again head into your cPanel area and look for the Files section, where you’ll be able to choose File Manager.
Choosing the file manager icon may offer many different options. Make sure that your domain name is selected and choose to continue until you’re brought to the public_html directory for your WP site. Here is a screenshot of selecting all of the files in this directory, so that you can delete them all in a single click.
And that’s it.
Delete WordPress From FTP (Manual)
To manually delete your site using FTP, first download and install the appropriate software:
FileZilla is recommended as it is free and works on both Windows and Mac platforms.
Once installed, use the FTP account information associated with your web host, in order to login to that software.
If you are unsure of those details, ask your web hosts via Live Chat.
Once the FTP software successfully connects with your server, you get something like this. The middle-left section shows all of the files and folders on your computer. Opposite it are all of the files in your server.
Because we’re going to be deleting a WordPress website (i.e. all the hosted files that assemble it), we’ll be focusing on the right side. Like the image above, make sure that the public_HTML directory, on the upper-right section, is selected. Delete all of the files in that folder.
And you’re good to go. Note that this can take a few minutes to execute.
Remove Search Traces
It may be impossible to remove every trace of your website’s existence on the internet. But you can remove it from the search engines faster then it naturally would after deletion, and limit the number of archives that still show its footprint.
Method 1. Removal Request
This is basically asking a specific search engine to delete your webpages from its search results. Google has a dedicated tool you can use by simply inputting the URL of your webpage and hitting Request Removal
As long as your URL meets its guidelines, this will speed up its removal. Bing also has a tool that removes web pages so that they no longer show up in search results. You need to be logged into your Microsoft account to use this.
Also have a last check with the Wayback Machine, an archiving tool that crawls and stores websites. They currently house more than 279 billion webpages, you can submit a request if you email the company directly.
Method 2. Redirecting .htaccess File
This is a secondary way to inform search engines that your site is no longer active.
Your .haccess file is a WordPress configuration file that modifies how your server behaves. One way to go about redirecting it is to use an FTP client like Fauzi Lara. You’ll find the relevant file in your root folder, i.e. your www or public_html directory.
Once you open the file shown above, add the following code. This will apply ahead tagger to every page of your website, preventing search engines from indexing your site any longer.
Conclusion - How to Delete a WordPress Site and Start Over
WordPress has a curious structure, it’s two different companies with two different products.
Deleting WordPress from a Web Host
Chances are that you’re using the WordPress.org free content management system with an external host such as HostGator, Hostinger, SiteGround, or another of the many well-known web hosts on the market.
Deleting WordPress from WordPress.com
WordPress.com, however, offers its own hosting and management of plug-ins. People with this setup have much less ability to customise their CMS. Option 1 is the correct way to delete your website, in this case.
Backups and Trace Removals
Backing up before you begin is good due diligence. If you change your mind about your website, you can restore it using those saved files.
And, to remove all presence of your website from the internet, while this may be arguably impossible, you can do a very good job on the search engines and some archives using the method we showed you in this guide.