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The 7 Most Common WordPress Errors and How to Solve Them

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The 7 Most Common WordPress Errors and How to Solve Them

WordPress errors- why do we put up with them? Because smart organizations know the importance of a killer website. They also know the importance of a robust and reliable website creation platform. Although many such platforms are available, the most popular is undoubtedly WordPress.

In February 2022, WordPress powered over 43% of all websites. In addition, 62% of the top 100 fastest-growing companies in the U.S. use WordPress. Clearly, WordPress is universally popular and near-ubiquitous.

However, WordPress is not perfect. In fact, it can be buggy and glitchy (particularly for those who don’t code), which can result in site interruptions, and affect user experiences. These errors can impact your brand’s credibility and ROI.

Read on to learn more about WordPress and some of the most commonly cited WordPress errors and how you can fix them.

What Is WordPress?

Written in PHP with a MySQL database, WordPress is a content management system that powers millions of websites, forums, blogs, online portfolios, and more. It supports numerous features that are essential for modern websites, including:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Lean code to improve loading speeds
  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Mobile-friendly and responsive themes
  • Custom navigation menus

Best of all, WordPress is open-source and completely free.

Now let’s explore the most common WordPress errors and how to fix them.

WordPress Error #1: The White Screen of Death

The white screen of death (WSoD) is one of the most frequently reported WordPress errors that irritate admins.

What it means

WSoD is a WordPress blank page that appears where your website should be. Sometimes you may see an HTTP 500 error or non-helpful WordPress errors like “this page isn’t working”.

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WSoD can occur when you’re logged into your wp-admin screen or when you try to log in.

There are many reasons you may see the WSoD:

  • A WordPress update or plugin is incompatible with some other software on your site.
  • A theme is conflicting with a plugin or some other part of your site.
  • The theme file is missing from WordPress.
  • You have exhausted your PHP memory limit.

How to fix the issue

With the WSoD, your main goal should be to resolve these WordPress errors and restore your website and admin dashboard as quickly as possible. You can do this with the troubleshooting suggestions given below:

  1. Deactivate all WordPress plugins and reactivate them individually

Log into your website through the Administration Screens or via FTP. Locate the folder wp-content/plugins and rename the plugin folder called plugins_old.

This will deactivate your plugins. Next, go to your website. If it is restored and you can log in through wp-admin, you have found (and fixed) the problem!

To determine which plugin caused the error, activate plugins individually, and repeatedly refresh your screen. Keep repeating the process until you see the WSoD again, which means that the most recently activated plugin is the problem.

At this point, you can:

  • Roll the plugin back to its previous version; check your site’s backup or the WordPress Repository
  • Patch the plugin
  • Replace the plugin with a new plugin with similar functionality

2. Switch to a default theme

If you see the WSoD after creating a new site or activating a new theme, switching to a default theme may be the best option in the short term. Login to the WordPress Administration Screens and activate a default theme.

Or you can access your website via FTP and navigate to the /wp-content/themes/ folder. Then rename the folder for the active theme. This will disable the theme.

It’s also possible that your developer forgot to transfer the theme’s files from the local testing environment to the live WordPress installation. Upload these files to your server with your host’s File Manager or an FTP client. Again, rename the /wp-content/themes/ folder to disable the theme.

Some long-term solutions to explore if the WSoD is theme-related:

  • Revert the theme to the older and safer iteration. Check your site’s backup or ask the theme provider.
  • Get a patch from the theme developer.
  • Install and configure a new theme that doesn’t conflict with your WordPress setup.

3. Adjust your server’s memory limit

If your PHP scripts consume excessive memory, it will affect the server’s ability to process a large number of files. This may then result in the WSoD.

To fix this issue:

  • Adjust your WordPress PHP memory limit (start with 64 MB) by modifying the code in three files:
    • wp-config.php
    • .htaccess
    • php.inii
  • Adjust the maximum execution time allowed in the .htaccess OR php.ini files. Start with 60 seconds and keep adjusting it until the issue goes away.

After making and saving your changes, return to wp-admin or the site’s home page. If memory was the problem, the above steps should fix the issue.

WordPress Error #2: Internal Server Error

A 500 Internal Server Error can negatively impact your SEO, so you need to address it quickly.

What it means

This common error usually appears when something is wrong but the server can’t identify it. There are many possible reasons for this error, but many possible solutions as well.

How to fix the issue

To find the root cause and debug the issue:

  1. Check if your .htaccess file is corrupted

Access your site and locate the file which is in the same directory as folders like wp-content and wp-admin. Rename the file and refresh your website to check if the issue is resolved.

If yes, go to your WordPress dashboard, navigate to Settings »Permalinks » Save Changes.

This will create a new .htaccess file with new rules so the error won’t reappear.

Fixing your permalink settings and updating the .htaccess file can also solve WordPress 404 errors:

2. Deactivate plugins

Deactivate your plugins via your WordPress Administration Screens or FTP. For more details, see the previous section.

3. Use a default WordPress theme

A new theme may also generate an internal server error, so switching to a default (safer) theme may resolve it. See the previous section to know more.

4. Increase the PHP memory limit

Increasing the memory limit could fix the problem. However, it might be a temporary solution only. To find a permanent fix, look for what’s actually exhausting the memory limit, such as a new theme or a poorly-coded plugin.

5. Re-upload core files with a fresh WordPress install

Re-uploading the wp-admin and wp-includes folder from a fresh WordPress install may remove the internal server error. To re-download and re-install WordPress, visit WordPress.org.

Next, connect to your WordPress website and go to your website’s root folder. It contains wp-admin, wp-includes, and wp-content folders.

Select and open the WordPress folder on your computer, select wp-includes, and wp-admin, and right-click ‘Upload’.

While transferring these folders to your server, your FTP client will ask if you’d like to overwrite the files. Select ‘Overwrite’, then ‘Always use this action,’ and finally ‘OK’.

These actions will replace the older WordPress files with fresh copies. If the server error was due to corrupted files, this step-by-step approach should fix the issue.

In addition to the five solutions discussed here, you can also ask your WordPress host to provide server logs that can help with further troubleshooting and root cause analyses.

WordPress Error #3: Error Establishing Database Connection

What it means

If your site can’t connect with its database, it may mean that the database is corrupted or unresponsive.

Other reasons for this error could be:

  • Incorrect wp-config.php information, such as:
    • Database host
    • Database name
    • Database username
    • Database password

It can also show up if there are problems with the web host, or if your site has been hacked.

How to fix the issue

To fix these PHP errors, you can try several troubleshooting methods.

  1. Repair your database

First, check if you get the same error on both your website’s front-end and back-end (wp-admin). If you see a different error on the back end, you need to repair your database.

Log into your website via FTP. Add this code into wp-config.php file just before the ‘That’s all, stop editing!’ line:

define(‘WP_ALLOW_REPAIR’, true);

Save the changes and re-upload wp-config.php to your server.

Next, go to this site to repair the database. Once WordPress repairs your database, remove the above line of code from wp-config.php.

2. Correct your configurations

Access your site via FTP. Check that the database name, host, username, and password are all correct in wp-config.php.

If your configuration is correct, you can manually reset your MySQL password.

If you have access to MySQL via shell, issue the command:

SET PASSWORD FOR ‘wordpressusername’@’hostname’ = OLD_PASSWORD(‘password’);

If you don’t have shell access, enter the command into an SQL query in phpMyAdmin. Alternately, use your host’s control panel to reset the password for database users.

3. Contact your web host

The problem may be occurring because the database has met its quota and has been shut down. Contact your hosting provider to assess these root issues.

4. Scan your site

If none of the above resolve the connection issue, it may mean that your site is hacked. Start by scanning the site using an application-based scanner like Sucuri or a remote-based scanner like SiteCheck.

Also, do a full anti-virus/malware scan on your local environment, and force a global password reset for all users. If you use shared hosting, check with your hosting provider if the hack originated at their end. Finally, find and remove the hack with the help of a WordPress security expert.

To prevent future hacks:

  • Register your site with online webmaster consoles like Google Search Console and Norton Webmaster so it doesn’t get blacklisted.
  • Use complex passwords for your FTP, wp-admin, Cpanel, and MySQL login pages.
  • Implement two-factor authentication to log into WordPress.

Also, take regular site backups to ensure that you don’t lose too much data in the event of a hack.

You can also try to restore your site’s database connection by:

  • Updating the WordPress site URL using phpMyAdmin
  • Rebooting the webserver
  • Updating WordPress to the latest version

WordPress Error #4: Connection Time-out

If your website tries to do more than your server can manage, a connection timed-out error will appear in WordPress. The error is more likely if you use shared hosting since the provider restricts your memory limit.

What it means

Three common causes of this problem are:

  • Resource-hungry plugins
  • Issues with theme functions
  • Low PHP memory

How to fix the issue

Here are some ways to fix this error:

  1. Deactivate all plugins

Deactivating plugins and reactivating them one by one can help you find the source of the problem and fix it. Access your website after each deactivation to check if the issue is fixed.

2. Switch to a default WordPress theme

To rule out theme-related problems, switch to the Twenty Twenty-One theme if you are using WordPress 5.8 and below.

3. Increase PHP memory limit in wp-config.php

We discussed earlier how you can do this. If your site uses shared hosting, ask your host to increase this limit.

WordPress Error #5: WordPress Stuck in Maintenance Mode

What it means

Sometimes WordPress can get stuck in maintenance mode during a scheduled update or when you update multiple plugins or themes. WordPress creates a temporary .maintenance file in the root folder, and users will see a message like:

You and your visitors won’t be able to access the site, and you’ll produce the same WordPress error screens every time you try until maintenance is complete.

How to fix the issue

To fix this notification, try these actions:

  1. Delete the .maintenance file

Log into your website via FTP and delete the .maintenance file in the root folder. This may remove the notification screen and bring your site back up.

2. Rename your plugins folder

Rename your plugins/ folder to _plugins/ to see if you can access your site. If it works, change the name back to plugins/. Then, disable all plugins and re-enable them individually to find the problematic plugin.

You can also try renaming the theme folder to disable the theme. Once you find the problem plugin or theme, reinstall it manually to get it working properly again.

3. Update the wp-activate.php file

Open the file via the file manager or FTP. Find this line of code:

define (‘WP_INSTALLING’, true)

Change true to false.

Save the file and reupload it if you’re using FTP. This should bring your site out of maintenance mode.

To avoid getting stuck in maintenance mode in the future:

  • Upgrade to a higher (non-shared) hosting plan
  • Update themes or plugins individually, rather than in bulk

WordPress Error #6: WordPress Is Not Uploading Images

Sometimes you may not be able to upload images to the WordPress media library.

What it means

This usually happens due to incorrect file permissions, so you will see this error message:

How to fix the issue

These WordPress errors are pretty common and you can troubleshoot them by:

Setting the right permissions for your uploads directory

Log into your site via FTP and navigate to the /wp-content/ folder and the uploads folder inside it.

Right-click this folder and select File permissions. When the dialog box opens:

  • Set all permissions for the uploads directory and subdirectories inside it to 744.
  • Check the box for Recurse into subdirectories, select ‘Apply to directories only, and click OK.

Next, to set permissions for the files in the uploads directory:

  • Right-click on the directory.
  • Select File permissions.
  • In the dialog box, change the value to 644.
  • Check the box for ‘Recurse into subdirectories, click ‘Apply to files only’, click OK.

Now log into your WordPress dashboard and re-upload your images.

If you see a vague HTTP error when uploading image files, try resizing or renaming the files. If this doesn’t work, check your permissions as explained above. Temporarily deactivating your plugins and themes may also help. If nothing works and you still can’t upload images, contact your hosting company.

WordPress Error #7: WordPress Is Not Sending Emails

Email marketing may be an important strategy for your business. Targeted, personalized, and well-designed emails can help you engage with your audience, increase website traffic, and boost conversions.

You can directly send emails via WordPress. But sometimes, WordPress doesn’t send these emails out. Unlike our other examples, these WordPress errors may not produce an error screen. You may not even know it’s happening until you try a test email. So next time you set up WordPress email, make sure it’s actually working by trying a test email.

What it means

This usually means that your WordPress hosting server is not correctly configured to use the PHP mail() function. Another possible cause is that the host has placed limits on the resources your site can use.

A third cause is that emails broadcast from WordPress are often caught by anti-spam filters, so they end up in subscribers’ spam folders instead of their inboxes.

How to fix the issue

To solve the problem:

Use SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) to send emails

SMTP uses proper authentication when sending emails. This can increase the deliverability rates of your emails. Simply put, your emails will be more likely to arrive in subscribers’ inboxes rather than landing in their spam folders. To implement SMTP in WordPress, use a plugin like WP Mail SMTP.

If you suspect a server issue, ask your hosting provider to upgrade your plan.

Interrupt Media Can Help You Master WordPress

In this article, we explored seven of the most common WordPress errors. But this is just the tip of the iceberg! There are many other issues you may face with your WordPress CMS. If you’re having a lot of issues with your WordPress site, it’s likely there are some deep-seated backend issues that need an expert’s eyes.  Interrupt Media can help.

Interrupt Media is a B2B digital marketing agency offering a full suite of services including web design, UX, content management, and more! Ready to talk about how we can help you make some improvements to your website, migrate to a different CMS, or drive more traffic to your site?  Contact us today.

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