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Update Ghost to the latest major version

Learn how to update your self-hosted Ghost install to the latest major version.

Before updating to a new major version, you must update your site to the latest minor version, e.g if you are on 3.23.0 you need to be on 3.42.9 before updating to v5. You also need to make sure that your setup meets all the latest requirements. This guide will take you through everything step-by-step.

Updates are recommended for sites that are:

  • Running Ghost version 3.0.0 or higher and are using MySQL in production
  • Development sites using any database

Make sure you can login to Ghost Admin before starting this process.

Switch user

Switch to the user you used to setup your Ghost install for running Ghost commands:

sudo -i -u <user>

Update Node

Run node -v to check your node version.

If less than 14, update node:

  • curl -fsSL [https://deb.nodesource.com/setup_14.x](https://deb.nodesource.com/setup_14.x) | sudo -E bash -
  • sudo apt-get install -y nodejs

Update Ghost CLI

Ghost-CLI is an npm module that can be updated using npm: sudo npm install -g ghost-cli@latest

Update to the latest minor version

Before updating to a new major version, you must update your site to the latest minor version.

First, perform a preliminary backup of your site: ghost backup

Then, update to the latest minor version:

  • On Ghost 3.0 run ghost update v3
  • On Ghost 4.0 run ghost update v4

If Ghost is not already running, run ghost start, then login to Ghost Admin and check this update has worked before continuing.

Make a full backup

When performing manual updates it’s a good idea to make frequent backups, so if anything goes wrong, you’ll still have all your data.

Once you’re running the latest minor version, make a full backup using the following command to generate a download of your site’s data:

ghost backup

This creates a backup zip file of everything you need, including:

  • Your content in JSON format
  • A full member CSV export
  • All themes that have been installed including your current active theme
  • Images, files, and media (video and audio)
  • A copy of routes.yaml and redirects.yaml or redirects.json

Read more about how to manually download your site data.

Check MySQL version

MySQL 8 is the only supported database in production. Use the following commands to check your database version:

ghost config database.client

This should output sqlite3 or mysql. If it says mysql, run mysql --version to find the details of your mysql install.

If you’re already running MySQL 8, proceed to the next steps. Otherwise, read more about how to update or migrate your database if you’re using any other version.

Check for theme update requirements

To ensure your publication’s front-end doesn’t break, you may need to make some changes to your theme.

Ghost CLI will output a report with any theme incompatibility errors and recommendations, or you can upload your theme directly to the GScan theme testing tool.

Update to the latest major version

Before updating to a new major version, review breaking changes that might affect you.

Once you’re running the latest minor version, it’s time to update to the latest major version.

Finally, you can now run the update command again to upgrade to the latest major version:

ghost update


The most common reason for an update failure is running out of memory, so make sure you have enough RAM or swap configured in advance.

Find your Ghost folder

Run the ghost ls command anywhere on your server to find the details of your Ghost install.

Download your backup

If you need to move your backup between machines, run the scp command on the machine you want to move the file to:

scp user@123.456.789.123:/var/www/ghost/backup-from[...].zip ~/Desktop

Force update

If an update fails you can start by forcing a retry to attempt the upgrade a second time.

ghost update --force


If something goes wrong, you can always revert to the previous stable version of Ghost.

ghost update --rollback

If you’re still having trouble, start by searching the Ghost forum to see if your issue has come up before.

Downgrade Node

If you need to downgrade Node, these are the steps:

sudo apt-get remove -y nodejs
curl -sL https://deb.nodesource.com/setup_12.x | sudo -E bash -
sudo apt-get install -y nodejs