WordPress troubleshooting is easier than you think. Follow this guide to narrow down the cause of your website issues.
WordPress is without a doubt the most popular Content Management System (CMS) in the world. It’s one of the many great resources InMotion Hosting offers to help our customers build dynamic websites that look great and are easy to maintain.
But errors and issues do happen from time to time. And if your WordPress site goes down, it can cost you visitors and potential revenue. So what can you do if you get a strange error?
Follow along to find out everything you need to know to solve common WordPress issues you may face.
- Troubleshoot Password Issues
- Enable WordPress Debugging
- WordPress Troubleshooting Plugins
- Disabling Your Current Theme
- Troubleshoot Database Errors
- Troubleshoot Email Issues
- 404 Errors, Redirect Problems, URL Issues
- Memory Exhausted or Memory Limit Errors
- Troubleshoot Other PHP Errors
- Additional Troubleshooting Resources
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Troubleshoot Password Issues
One of the most common problems experienced with WordPress is passwords that are not working or have been lost/forgotten. The best solution is to create a new password. The following article explains several ways to accomplish this, even if you do not have Dashboard access.
If your WordPress site was installed using Softaculous, you can change your password there.
Enable WordPress Debugging
It’s best to enable debugging mode in a staging environment, local development environment, or low-volume times. Using debug mode on a live site may display live errors to your visitors. This is not only a security risk but also makes your site look unprofessional to visitors.
WordPress Troubleshooting Plugins
3rd party WordPress plugins make using WordPress so much easier by adding new functionality. But they can harm your site if they conflict with each other or your theme. The dedicated WordPress plugin testers do their best to mitigate plugin errors, but that’s only if you’re getting plugins directly from the WordPress repository–and that’s simply not the case with all plugins.
Since plugins are developed by different people all over the world, conflicts can sometimes occur. Especially if they are outdated or are not well-tested by many users.
Always ensure that you are running the latest version of WordPress plugins.
If you’re getting strange errors or a “white screen of death” when loading your WordPress website, you may need to disable your plugins to rule them out. Here is a link to our detailed guide.
By deactivating a specific plugin or disabling all plugins, you are basically investigating to find the following information.
- Is it definitely a plugin causing the error?
- If so, which plugin is the culprit?
With this information, you’ll be able to find the best course of action. In some cases you can get advice from the plugin developer directly, via WordPress.org.
Disabling Your Current Theme
In the same way a plugin can cause errors, 3rd party themes may also have conflicts or issues. If you’re getting your themes from the WordPress.org repository, they are usually vetted well and less likely to get errors. But, there are a lot of themes that were custom-coded by a designer or purchased from a theme marketplace. Also, some older themes may have coding that will result in errors after WordPress updates.
Always ensure that you are running the most recent version of a WordPress theme.
If you are still getting a strange theme error such as a blank white page or missing sections, switch to a default theme like WordPress’s Twenty Twenty-One or Twenty Twenty themes. See our full guide on how to accomplish this.
If you don’t have Dashboard access, you can rename the current theme in the /wp-content/themes/XXXX folder which should cause it to revert to a default theme.
Troubleshoot Database Errors
Database errors can vary greatly but you will typically run into two the most often: “Error establishing a database connection” and “Database Corrupted”. We will now go over how to troubleshoot these issues.
Error Establishing a Database Connection WordPress
This error means that WordPress cannot locate the database with the provided settings, or it does not have permission to connect to the database. For detailed troubleshooting steps, see our full guide here.
If a site is getting database related errors the tables may be corrupted. There is a built in tool in cPanel that can help repair this.
Troubleshoot Email Issues
If you are missing form submissions or other WordPress related alerts that should be sent over email, here are some things you can check.
- Check that you have the correct Admin Email setting in the WordPress Dashboard: (Settings->General->Administration Email Address)
- Review your server’s Mail logs for a record of the transmissions.
- View full summary of mail activity from the Exim mail log.
- Can check with a plugin such as WP Mail Logging
Setup WordPress to Use SMTP
If you are still experiencing trouble, the next step is to setup WordPress to use SMTP. This ensures that you are authenticating with the mail server in order to send outbound email. This is covered in the following guide.
404 Errors, Redirect Problems, URL Issues
These types of errors are not good for your site since they provide a poor user experience. If a user simply made an error while typing in a URL, that’s no big deal. But, if the user went to that URL expecting to find something and instead saw nothing, then they may never return to your site.
Also, 404 errors are bad for search engine optimization (SEO). Search engines crawl your site and index it based on the content and navigation you’ve provided. If a search engine indexes a page, and you delete the page or it has a redirect error message, the search engine may be referring their users to a dead page. If that keeps happening, the search engine will likely stop displaying your page on search engine results pages (SERPs).
WordPress allows you to rewrite URLs to make them more attractive for users and more descriptive for search engines, for example:
- A standard permalink looks like this: https://example.com/?p=134
- A “pretty” permalink looks like this: https://example.com/how-to-troubleshoot-wordpress/
The standard permalink is a basic query string that instructs WordPress to pull that particular item from the database. The pretty permalink does the same thing, but it’s much more attractive and descriptive.
If you notice 404 Errors, Redirect Problems, or URL Issues are showing up on your pages (and you know those pages exist) resetting permalinks to the standard form and checking the pages again will let you know if there’s a rewrite issue happening. Here is a link to our full walkthrough guide.
Check Your .htaccess File
Another possible cause of 404 Errors, Redirect Problems, and URL Issues is the .htaccess file. What is an .htaccess file? It is a hidden file that handles rewrites and redirects. Some common uses of the .htaccess file would be restricting access to certain files or redirecting URLs.
WordPress relies on .htaccess rules, so adding rules directly to your server via FTP or File Manager can interfere with how it works. Keep in mind that plugins can add rules to .htaccess file. So changes can occur there even if you didn’t make them directly. How do you test an .htaccess file? Rename it! This is covered in the following guide:
Memory Exhausted or Memory Limit Errors
These errors typically mean you have not allocated enough memory to run PHP for the desired action. For example:
Fatal error: Allowed memory size of 33554432 bytes exhausted (tried to allocate 1966080 bytes) in /home2/user1/public_html/fantasy/wp-includes/class-simplepie.php on line 5353
This can be corrected by increasing the memory allocated in your php.ini file. Visit our full guide to learn how to do this.
Troubleshoot Other PHP Errors
When you get a WordPress error that mentions PHP, it’s important to closely review the surrounding text. The error will often tell you the specific setting that is causing the problem. You can then use this information to change the PHP setting for your account and address the problem. Read this guide to learn how.
If you are getting errors regarding the version of PHP you are using, you have the ability to change this setting for your account. This is covered in the following guide.
Additional Troubleshooting Resources
WordPress errors do happen from time to time. But the good news is you’re protected. WordPress shares a vast and dedicated community of developers, designers, and everyday users. If you’re having an issue, and the steps above are not working, chances are someone has had the same issue and found a fix for it.
- Ask us a question.
- Visit the WordPress.org support community above to ask your question there.
- Check-in with our live support team anytime. We’ve got WordPress experts on staff 24/7.
Now you know how to troubleshoot the most common WordPress issues! For more helpful articles, see our full WordPress Education Channel .
Learn more tips and tricks about WordPress backups to protect your website from risks!