WordPress Troubleshooting Guide

Learn how to troubleshoot and fix common WordPress errors using our WordPress Troubleshooting Guide.

WordPress Troubleshooting GuideThis tutorial is part of our WordPress Management tutorial series.

In this section, you will learn how to troubleshoot and fix common WordPress errors using our FREE online WordPress Troubleshooting Guide.

This guide contains links to many of our detailed step-by-step tutorials. Please feel free to explore these links and additional resources for more information.

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Table of Contents

WordPress Troubleshooting Guide

Not all WordPress errors require an expert web developer to fix. You can troubleshoot a number of issues in WordPress, such as general or common errors, or errors caused by performing maintenance or installation upgrades on your WordPress site.

This includes errors like:

  • The “White Screen Of Death”
  • “Header already sent” errors
  • Plugin and Theme “Fatal” errors
  • “Out of Memory” Errors
  • … and other WordPress problems, issues, and errors.

Warning

Always backup your WordPress files and database before performing any upgrades or installations!

If you need to roll back to a previous version of WordPress, you can find all of the software previous releases by visiting the site below:

WordPress Troubleshooting Process

WordPress comprises of a number of components, including core WordPress files, database, plugins, and themes. Generally, when troubleshooting problems with WordPress, the goal is to determine what is causing the problem by systematically isolating, testing, and disabling each of these components until the problem is uncovered.

If you experience errors with your WordPress site, follow the WordPress troubleshooting process shown in the flowchart below to run diagnostics and hopefully resolve the problem …

WordPress Troubleshooting Process

Systematic WordPress Troubleshooting

The best way to diagnose and repair problems or issues is to follow a systematic process. We recommend following the process below when troubleshooting problems with your WordPress site:

Step 1: Disable & Troubleshoot Plugins

Most problems in WordPress are caused by plugins, so plugins are the logical place to start your diagnostics.

Some of the more common problems you may experience during upgrades or installations may be incompatibilities with other installed plugins, conflicts between newer plugin versions and older WordPress installations, or vice-versa (i.e. outdated versions of the plugin and newer versions of WordPress), etc.

Disabling your plugins allows you to determine very quickly if a plugin is causing you issues.

How To Disable WordPress Plugins

If you can log into your WordPress administration area, go to Plugins > Installed Plugins to access your WordPress Plugins screen …

Plugins|Plugins Menu|WP Plugins Menu} - Installed Plugins

(Plugins|Plugins Menu|WordPress Plugins Menu} – Installed Plugins)

Click on Plugin in the table header to select all plugins …

Select all plugins

(Select all plugins)

Select ‘Deactivate’ from the drop down menu (1) and click Apply to disable all of your plugins (2) …

Deactivate your plugins

(Deactivate your plugins)

All of your plugins should now be deactivated …

All plugins should be deactivated

(All plugins should be deactivated)

If you cannot access your WordPress ‘Plugins’ page via your WordPress Dashboard, log into your site using cPanel or FTP and locate the ‘Plugins’ folder …

Locate your plugins folder

(Locate your plugins folder)

Right-click on your ‘plugins’ folder and select ‘Rename’ …

Rename your plugins folder

(Rename your plugins folder)

Rename the ‘Plugins’ folder (e.g. rename it to something like “plugins-old”) …

Plugins folder renamed

(Plugins folder renamed)

All of your plugins will be deactivated. You can check this by going into your WordPress administration area and viewing the ‘Plugins’ page …

All plugins have been force-deactivated

(All plugins have been force-deactivated)

To remove all the “plugin error” messages from your screen simply refresh the page or click on the Plugins > Installed Plugins menu …

Refresh page to remove error messages

(Refresh page to remove error messages)

Important Info

To restore your plugins, go back into your FTP or cPanel screen and rename your ‘plugins’ folder back to the original name (i.e. ‘plugins’). All the plugins you have previously installed will display again in your ‘Plugins’ screen as ‘inactive’ …

You can restore your plugins by renaming your 'plugins' folder

(You can restore your plugins by renaming your ‘plugins’ folder)

After all of the plugins on your site have been disabled, check to see if the issue has been resolved. If the issue has been resolved, then you can confidently assume that the problem has been caused by a plugin.

Reactivate your plugins one at a time, and check after each activation to see if the problem returns. When the problem returns, you will have isolated the plugin that is causing the issue. If the plugin requires an update, upgrade the plugin and see if the problem still persists. If the plugin does not require an update or the problem still persists after upgrading the plugin, then leave the plugin deactivated, or delete it from your “Plugins” folder. You may also want to check if the plugin developer has a support forum or blog and continue investigating issues in those channels.

Continue reactivating and testing your remaining plugins in case there are multiple plugins causing the issue. If the problem has been fully resolved after all plugins have been reactivated (except, of course for any problem plugins), then you have isolated and identified the problem.

For additional information on troubleshooting plugin-related issues, see the tutorial section below:

Step 2: Disable & Troubleshoot Themes

If the problem persists after you have disabled all of your plugins , the next step is to examine whether or not the issue is being caused by your active WordPress theme.

To troubleshoot a theme, leave all plugins disabled, then activate the default WordPress theme supplied with your installation to disable the one that is currently active. Unless you have edited or customized the default theme, it should not cause any issues, as the theme has been developed, tested and approved by WordPress themselves …

WordPress Troubleshooting

After enabling the default theme, re-test your site. If the problem has been resolved, then reactivate your plugins and investigate the theme further. Have you made any recent modifications to the theme? Is there an updated version of the theme available? Contact the theme developer and inform them of the problem. If the theme developer provides a user forum, ask if anyone else has experienced the same issue.

If you cannot access your WordPress ‘Themes’ page via your WordPress Dashboard, log into your site using cPanel or FTP and follow the same process described in Step 1 to rename your active theme folder and deactivate your existing theme.

Step 3: Check WordPress Database

If the problem is not caused by a plugin or theme, the next step is to check to see if the issue is being caused by a WordPress Database error.

WordPress Database errors may result from server activity, or from security threats.

If you suspect the error may be caused by an issue related to the database, try performing a Database maintenance task, such as repairing or optimizing your tables to see if this fixes the issue.

To learn more about WordPress Database Management, see the tutorial module below:

If it does not solve the issue, see the other troubleshooting tutorials in this module, or continue investigating the problem by taking the next step below.

Step 4: Check WordPress Installation Files

Sometimes server files can become corrupt and cause problems, or the problem may result from security threats, such as hacking activity, malware, etc.

Maybe your site files have become corrupted, or you have accidentally deleted something on your site that is causing the issue.

If you suspect the error may be caused by an issue related to your WordPress installation files, see the other troubleshooting tutorials in this module, or go through your ‘file maintenance’ process.

To learn more about WordPress File Management, see the tutorial section below:

If the above does not solve the issue, then continue investigating the problem by taking the next step below.

Step 5: Check Your Web Hosting

Normally, if the problem is related to your server, you would know right away if the problem was severe enough to disrupt normal service, especially if you have other sites hosted on the same server, as all of your sites would be similarly affected.

Problems can also be related to a security threat, especially if your site has been compromised by a hacker or a malicious software program.

If none of the previous steps can help you identify and fix the issue, then contact your webhosting provider to see if they are aware of any issues affecting the normal running of your server.

If your server is working fine, then proceed to the next step below.

If The Problem Still Persists …

Option #1 – Check The Online Help Resources

There are a lot of useful WordPress help resources available online, such as forums and groups where you can search for solutions and fixes to most WordPress problems.

To learn about help resources for troubleshooting WordPress problems, see the tutorial below:

Option 2: Reinstall WordPress

If the problem still persists after testing all other options and you have recent backups of your site, then a simple and cost-effective option may be to reinstall a clean version of WordPress on your site and re-import all of your files.

To learn how to reinstall WordPress on your site, see the tutorial below:

Info

Sometimes corrupted files cannot be overwritten by newer files or removed from your server.

If this happens, you will need to delete your web hosting account and perform a completely new site installation on your domain. Contact your hosting provider for advice and assistance should this happen.

To learn how to delete your WordPress site, see the tutorial below:

Option #3 – Get Professional Help

If you cannot find a solution to your problem, refer to the Help Resources tutorial or search online. If you can’t find a solution to your problem online and don’t want to delete your WordPress site (e.g. you have no backups), then your last option is to ask a professional for help.

This could be your webhosting provider, your webmaster, or a professional WordPress support service provider.

If you need help finding a professional WordPress service provider, search online or visit the WordPress directory of services below:

Next Section:

Now that you are familiar with the WordPress Troubleshooting Process, click on the link below to view the next section of our WordPress Troubleshooting Guide:

To learn more about tools that can help you troubleshoot problems, issues, and errors with your WordPress site, see the tutorial below:

Important

WordPress Troubleshooting Tutorials

Refer to the tutorials below if you experience any other issues with WordPress:

How To Fix Problems Accessing Your WordPress Admin Area
How To Fix Problems Accessing Your WordPress Admin Area
Are you locked out of your WordPress admin area? Learn how to troubleshoot, identify & fix problems or errors preventing access to your WordPress admin area ...
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How To Fix The WordPress Posts Returning 404 Not Found Error
How To Fix The WordPress Posts Returning 404 Not Found Error
Are you getting a 404 Not Found error message when clicking to an existing page on your site? Learn how to fix the WordPress 404 Not Found error ...
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Backup Creator - {Backup|Back Up}, {Clone|Duplicate} {And|&} {Protect Your {WordPress|WP} {Website|Websites|Site|Sites|Web Site|Web Sites|Websites And Blogs}|Keep Your {WordPress|WP} {Website|Websites|Site|Sites|Web Site|Web Sites|Websites And Blogs} Protected}
Backup Creator – WordPress Backup Plugin
Backup Creator is an easy-to-use plugin that allows you to backup your WordPress data, clone your websites, and protect your sites against data loss ...
Read More
How To Tell What PHP Version Your Server Is Running
How To Tell What PHP Version Your Server Is Running
Learn how to quickly tell what version of PHP your server is using ...
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How To Fix A 500 Internal Server Error In WordPress
How To Fix A 500 Internal Server Error In WordPress
Is your WordPress site displaying a "500 Internal Server" error? This tutorial shows you how to troubleshoot and fix this issue ...
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Common Causes Of WordPress Errors
What Causes WordPress Errors?
Learn about some of the most common causes of WordPress errors and how to address these ...
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How To Fix General WordPress Errors
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Are you getting a 403 Forbidden error message on your WordPress site? This tutorial shows you how to troubleshoot and fix this issue ...
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WordPress Troubleshooting Tools
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Need additional help fixing errors on your WordPress site? Here is a list of helpful WordPress troubleshooting help resources! ...
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How To Fix Can't Change WordPress Website Address - Greyed Out URLs
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Are your WordPress Address (URL) and WordPress Site Address (URL) greyed out? This step-by-step tutorial shows you how to fix this issue ...
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WordPress Troubleshooting: Unable To Log Into WordPress Administration Area
WordPress Troubleshooting: Unable To Log Into WordPress Administration
Learn what to do if you are unable to log into your WordPress Administration area ...
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Link Redirection Management
Trackerly – Link Redirection Management And Tracking Tool
Learn how to manage thousands of redirect links on multiple domains from one central location using a powerful link management and tracking tool called Trackerly ...
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How To Increase {Maximum File Upload Size In WordPress|WordPress File Upload Size|Your WordPress File Upload Size Limit}
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Are you having trouble uploading files to your WordPress Media Library? This tutorial explains how to increase your WordPress file upload size limit ...
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How To Fix General WordPress Errors
How To Fix General WordPress Errors
Learn how to troubleshoot and fix general WordPress errors ...
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How To Fix WordPress Fatal Errors
How To Fix WordPress Fatal Errors
Are you experiencing "Fatal Error" messages in WordPress? Here are some of the more common WordPress fatal errors you may come across and how to fix these ...
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WP Total Audit - Find And Fix Common WordPress Errors
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Find and fix common WordPress errors with WP Total Audit ...
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WordPress Troubleshooting Tools
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Learn about tools that can help you troubleshoot and fix problems, issues, and errors with your WordPress site ...
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How To Fix WordPress Database Is Too Large To Back Up Issue
How To Fix WordPress Database Is Too Large To Back Up Issue
Is your WordPress database too large to back up? Here is some useful information that can help you solve this issue ...
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How To {Detect|Find} And {Repair|Fix} Broken Links In WordPress
How To Detect And Repair Broken Links In WordPress
Managing broken links is an important part of website maintenance. In this tutorial, we show you how to find and fix broken links in WordPress ...
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How To Fix WordPress Stuck On "Briefly Unavailable For Scheduled Maintenance" Error
How To Fix WordPress Stuck On “Briefly Unavailable For Scheduled Maintenance” Error
Is your WordPress site stuck with a "Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance" error message? This step-by-step tutorial shows you how to fix this ...
Read More
How To Fix WordPress Error Establishing A Database Connection
How To Fix WordPress Error Establishing A Database Connection
Are you getting an "Error establishing a database connection" message on your site? This step-by-step tutorial will show you how to fix this WordPress issue ...
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WordPress Troubleshooting Guide: Plugin Errors
WordPress Plugin Troubleshooting Guide
Learn how to fix common WordPress Plugin errors in our WordPress Plugin Troubleshooting Guide ...
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How To Fix The WordPress White Screen Of Death Error
How To Fix The WordPress White Screen Of Death Error
Is your WordPress screen blank? This tutorial explains how to troubleshoot and fix the WordPress white screen of death error ...
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How To Fix WordPress Keeps Logging Out Problem
How To Fix WordPress Keeps Logging Out Problem
Do you keep getting logged out of WordPress? Learn how to fix the WordPress keeps logging out problem in this tutorial ...
Read More
How To Fix A Corrupted .htaccess File
How To Fix A Corrupted .htaccess File
Are your experiencing an internal server error or Forbidden 403 error on your WordPress site? You may need to fix a corrupt .htaccess file. This tutorial shows you how ...
Read More
WordPress Installation Files: A Glossary For Non-Techies
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Need to know what WordPress installation folders and files in your server are used for? Here is a glossary of WordPress installation files for non-techies ...
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How To Fix WordPress Are You Sure You Want To Do This? Error
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Learn how to troubleshoot and fix the WordPress 'Are you sure you want to do this?' error in this tutorial ...
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{{Monitor|Monitoring|How To Monitor} The Health Of Your WordPress Site From Your WordPress Dashboard|{Monitor|Monitoring|How To Monitor} WordPress Site Health From Your WordPress Dashboard}
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In this tutorial, we explore free WordPress plugins that can help you monitor your website's health from your WordPress dashboard ...
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How To {Redirect Links|Create Link Redirections} In WordPress
How To Redirect Links In WordPress
Need to point links to new destination URLs? This tutorial explains how to redirect links in WordPress ...
Read More

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WordPress Troubleshooting Guide

(Source: Pixabay)

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"If you're new to WordPress, this can stand on its own as a training course and will stay with you as you progress from beginner to advanced and even guru status." - Bruce (Columbus, Ohio)

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Author: Martin Aranovitch

Martin Aranovitch is the founder of WPCompendium.org and the author of The Small Business Digital Manager. WPCompendium.org provides hundreds of FREE tutorials that show you how to use WordPress to grow your business online with no coding skills required! Get our FREE "101+ WordPress Tips, Tricks & Hacks For Non-Techies" e-course with loads of useful WordPress tips!

Originally published as WordPress Troubleshooting Guide.