Fix “Destination Folder Already Exists, WordPress Theme or Plugin Install Failed”

In the last tutorials, we’ve learned together, how to install WordPress themes, and also, how to install a plugin in WordPress. However, some readers asked for help with some error messages they get like ” WordPress destination folder already exists”, and they get “theme install failed”, or “Plugin install failed”.

And even, other special errors with complicated situations. So, today, I’ll show you how to fix that problem and also, what is the issue with your WordPress website.

As the error message already appears with some information, the file that you’re installing, such as a theme or a plugin is already existing, and you can’t add the same file to the same destination.

So, WordPress knows that you have the file, and you can just activate it, or, delete it completely and upload the new one.

Destination Folder Already Exists

To fix the problem, you have one single solution, it’s to remove your theme or plugin that you want to install. Search in your WordPress directory under “wp-content”, then, find “Themes”, or, “Plugins” folder, depending on your case, and you will find that exact file. Next, delete it from your cPanel or use an FTP, and finally re-upload your file, and the error will disappear.

Delete an existing WordPress theme

In the majority of cases, people install a theme, they try it and then they decide to switch to another one for a while. Later, they come back to their first theme install and forget that the theme is already there, in their blog files.

Deleting a theme is a simple step, all you have to do is to log in to your WordPress admin area. Click “Appearance”, then, “Themes”, and hover over the theme that you want to delete, and you will get a small deletion link, at the bottom right of the pop-up window, exactly like the below short video.

Please note that you can only remove a deactivated theme. So, if you want to delete your actual working theme, then, you need to activate another one, such, the default theme from WordPress.

If you can’t apply this simple method from the dashboard, then, you have to use your cPanel account. Log in and click the “File Manager”, next, you will get your blog files. You need to locate the one called “wp-content”.
delete theme
Open that directory and you will find the folder “Themes” inside it, browse that file to find the theme that you want to remove.
themes folder
Select the folder and click the delete, as the following screenshot.
remove a WordPress theme
Now, you have just removed the existing theme file, and the destination folder will no longer exist. So, upload your theme again and it will work.
If you don’t have cPanel access, you need to use a standard FTP client software, such as Filezilla. It’s a simple tool that you can download to your computer, and manage your distant blog files from your local machine. The only negative point is that the upload time will be too long.
Anyway, if you should use it, follow the above theme destination steps, and delete the one you want exactly, as you delete a regular file from your computer.

Delete an existing WordPress plugin

Like themes, you can delete a plugin directly from your admin area, by clicking “Plugins”, and click the “Delete” link in red color, and that’s it. However, if you can’t access your dashboard, then you can use cPanel again.

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Just login and locate the directory ”wp-content”, and inside it, you will find the “Plugins” folder just in the same destination as “Themes”, as in the next screenshot.

The final step will be selecting the exact plugin file that you want to remove and click the “Delete” button at the top of the page.

Delete a WordPress plugin from cPanel

When you can use the cPanel file manager, then, you should use Filezilla and remove the plugin manually. It’s the same, and you just need to find its location, it’s always, your home directory, then, wp-content and plugins.

The above steps will solve the problem in the majority of cases. If it’s not the case, then make sure you have the right permissions for your themes or plugins directories. If nothing happens, you have to change the permissions to 777, upload your file and change the permissions back to the default for more security.

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About Fathi Arfaoui

Fathi Arfaoui is a Physicist, Blogger and the founder of He shares Business, WordPress and Blogging tips to build a better blog and succeed online.

Disclosure: The recommendations on this page are my own based on my tests and analysis. We may earn a small commission from web hosts and other partners if you use my referral link to make a purchase. That’s what helps us to maintain the site and add fresh content, Thanks for your support.

2 thoughts on “Fix “Destination Folder Already Exists, WordPress Theme or Plugin Install Failed””

  1. It does this randomly with some of the very first plugin installations on a completely fresh WP install, the folders do not exist prior to that, I checked. WEIRD.

  2. That can be a problem of server cache, even if everything is on a fresh install, some web hosts aggressively cache pages and never clear it when someone makes changes, try connecting the web host and asked them to clear the cache for you, hope it helps.

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