How to Fix the “Could Not Fully Remove the Plugin” Error

WordPress updates are necessary and critical for your website’s longevity, and above all, imperative for security reasons. However, every now and then, some permission levels change due to which users cannot completely delete plugins. More specifically, they get–> “Could not fully remove the plugin (plugin name)” error. This seems to be a common occurrence, especially with the Akismet Anti-Spam plugin — and in general, with the recent WordPress 5.5.1 update.

So, What Are the Solutions?

Like many of you, I ran into the same situation as well. Now, when I searched for a solution, I found threads around making programmatic/code-level back-end changes to the permission levels — to the one that’ll allow you to delete the plugins but, I wanted something without the trickiness of these techniques.

It turns out, I found a straightforward solution that involved attempting to delete a plugin folder via FTP, and upon further digging, I also discovered that you could change file permission levels via your FTP software (may depend on what you’re using). However, it feels like some folks are unsuccessful this way. (No harm in trying it out though).

A for-sure solution nonetheless, which I figured out on my own, and interestingly enough was always an option for me, was to reset file permissions directly within the domain registrar login.

Nevertheless, whether you get this choice will depend on what plan you have, what configurations you have, etc. The point I am trying to make here is that if this is indeed something you have (maybe you’re just unaware), it’s one of the easiest and safest way to fix this error. If you’re unsure, ask, “do you have anything that can reset file permissions?” For reference, I will discuss this approach on a GoDaddy Managed WordPress Plan.

Solution 1: Trying to Fix Could Not Fully Remove Plugin Error via FTP

Using your favorite FTP software, for reference, I’d be using FileZilla (as I am certain a lot of WP users do), first and foremost, connect with your site. Once you do, follow the steps below:

Step 1: Navigate into your plugins folder

Plugins can be found inside the WP-Contents Folder. In most cases, when you’re using FTP, it will be inside /wp-content/plugins.

Step 2: Find the plugin that you couldn’t remove from WordPress

Inside the plugins folder, look for the plugin you couldn’t remove. Then, right-click on it, and select delete. Image screenshot below, for context.

deleting a plugin from ftp
Deleting a plugin from FTP.

Step 3: If that did not do the trick, in the same right-click context menu, navigate to file permissions, make the necessary adjustments, and then attempt to delete the plugin once more.

changing file attributes in FTP
Change the file attributes/permissions here, and attempt to delete the plugin thereafter.

If this solution worked for you, you can call it a day!

Side note: In all likelihood, this is more of a universal fix — independent of who you have as your host, domain registrar, etc.

Solution 2: Fixing Could Not Fully Remove Plugin Error via Your GoDaddy Login (Not FTP, Not WordPress)

Before I start, full disclosure: I am on one of the Managed GoDaddy WP Plans, so unsure if you’d be getting the same option or not. I believe you would, and as stated before, other providers may have it too. Just look for it, or ask.

In any case, to apply a fix via this method, you’d be making use of the “Reset File Permissions” (or similar) feature.

To get there in a GoDaddy Managed WP Plan, head over to the tools tab, and under the heading of Troubleshooting, you’ll see a line item for Reset File Permissions.

GoDaddy Reset File Permissions
As you can see, simply head over to the Tools tab, and hit the reset option. It’s disabled in my screenshot here because I’ve already reset.

All WP users should aim for this option first, if available, as it’s the easiest and the safest fix of all. It also has the highest probability of working since the permissions levels are modified directly from the source.

In fact, the purpose of this functionality is exactly that.

what the GoDaddy Reset File Permissions is
How GoDaddy defines its “Reset File Permissions” functionality.

Note that it may take a minute or two for the changes to take effect, so be patient. As a final step, head back over to WordPress, and delete the unwanted plugin.

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To fully resolve the “could not fully remove the plugin” error in WordPress, one thing that is absolutely certain is that it stems from having permission levels changed.

To fix it, try the two solutions proposed above; otherwise, coding things and making database changes is always an option — but doesn’t come without risks of breaking the site.