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Troubleshooting 101: Solving Common WordPress Problems

By Mike Bowden —  | |  — No Comments
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Troubleshooting 101: Solving Common WordPress Problems

WordPress is a powerful and widely used content management system that is not immune to issues and problems. As a WordPress user, it’s essential to know how to identify and fix common issues that may arise with your website. This guide will cover some of the most common WordPress issues and provide solutions for resolving them. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced WordPress user, we hope this guide will be a helpful resource for keeping your website running smoothly.

What is Troubleshooting?

Troubleshooting refers to the process of identifying and resolving problems or issues. Whether it’s an error message that won’t go away, a broken plugin, or a site that won’t load, troubleshooting is essential for anyone working with WordPress. By identifying the cause of the problem and finding a solution, you can keep your website running smoothly and provide a better user experience for your visitors.

What is the Importance of Troubleshooting in WordPress?

Troubleshooting is an essential skill for anyone working with WordPress. When issues arise with your website, it’s crucial to identify the cause of the problem and find a solution as quickly as possible. Not only can website issues be frustrating for users, but they can also negatively impact your website’s performance and search engine rankings. By troubleshooting common WordPress issues, you can ensure that your website functions correctly and provide a better user experience for your visitors. Regular maintenance and updates can also help prevent problems from occurring in the first place. Overall, troubleshooting is a crucial part of maintaining a successful and efficient WordPress website.

What are Common WordPress Issues?

Many potential issues can arise with a WordPress website, including the white screen of death, internal server errors, errors establishing a database connection, login issues, and the website not loading or taking too long to load.

Let’s cover these common issues and provide solutions for resolving them.

Issue 1: White screen of death (WSOD)

  • Symptoms: The white screen of death, also known as the WSOD, is a common issue when a WordPress website displays a blank screen instead of the expected content. This can happen when visiting the website, logging in to the WordPress dashboard, or trying to access certain pages or features.
  • Causes: The white screen of death can be caused by various factors, including plugin conflicts, theme issues, incorrect code, and server issues. It can also be caused by insufficient memory or a lack of permissions.
  • Solutions: To troubleshoot the white screen of death, you can try the following solutions: 1. Deactivate all plugins: If the WSOD occurs when logging in to the WordPress dashboard, you can try deactivating all of your plugins and then reactivating them one by one to see if a specific plugin is causing the issue. Do this by logging into your account via FTP or sFTP and renaming the “/wp-content/plugins/” folder. Then try to log in again via the WordPress dashboard. This will cause WordPress to deactivate all of your plugins. 2. Switch to the default theme: If the WSOD occurs when visiting the website, you can try switching to the default WordPress theme to see if your current theme causes the issue. 3. Check file permissions: If incorrect file permissions are causing the WSOD, you can try changing the permissions of your WordPress files and directories to the recommended values. 4. Increase memory limit: (This is the most common cause of WSOD) If insufficient memory is causing the WSOD, you can try increasing the memory limit by adding the following line of code to your wp-config.php file:

Be sure that you have increased the PHP limit on your account by setting it with your .htaccess on Apache or by requesting your host increase the allowable amount via your PHP configuration.

define('WP_MEMORY_LIMIT', '256M');

Issue 2: Internal server error

  • Symptoms: An internal server error is a common issue when there is a problem with the server hosting your website. This can manifest as a white screen of death, a blank page, or an error message that reads “500 Internal Server Error”.
  • Causes: Internal server errors can be caused by various factors, including faulty code, plugin conflicts, server issues, and insufficient resources.
  • Solutions: To troubleshoot an internal server error, you can try the following solutions: 1. Check your .htaccess file: The .htaccess file controls how Apache serves your website, and a corrupt .htaccess file can cause an internal server error. You can try renaming your .htaccess file to _.htaccessold to see if this resolves the issue. You can create a new .htaccess file with the necessary rules if it does. 2. Deactivate plugins: If a plugin is causing the internal server error, you can try deactivating all of your plugins and then reactivating them one by one to see if a specific plugin is a cause. See above if you can’t access the WordPress dashboard to deactivate plugins. 3. Check server logs: If the issue is related to the server, you can check the server logs for more information on the cause of the internal server error. 4. Increase memory limit: Insufficient memory can also cause an internal server error. You can try increasing the memory limit by adding the following line of code to your wp-config.php file:

Be sure that you have increased the PHP limit on your account by setting it with your .htaccess on Apache or by requesting your host increase the allowable amount via your PHP configuration.

define('WP_MEMORY_LIMIT', '256M');

Issue 3: Error establishing a database connection

  • Symptoms: The error establishing a database connection error message appears when WordPress cannot connect to the database that stores your website’s data. This can occur when visiting the website, logging in to the WordPress dashboard, or trying to access certain pages or features.
  • Causes: The error establishing a database connection error can be caused by a variety of factors, including incorrect database login credentials, an improperly configured database, server issues, and plugin conflicts.
  • Solutions: To troubleshoot the error establishing a database connection error, you can try the following solutions: 1. Check your database login credentials: The most common cause of this error is incorrect credentials. You can check your wp-config.php file to ensure that the database name, username, and password are correct. 2. Repair the database: If a corrupt database causes the error, you can try repairing the database using the WordPress repair tool. You can access the tool by adding “wp-admin/maint/repair.php” to the end of your website’s URL. 3. Deactivate plugins: If a plugin is causing the error, establishing a database connection error, you can try deactivating all of your plugins and then reactivating them one by one to see if a specific plugin is a cause. 4. Check server logs: If the issue is related to the server, you can check the server logs for more information on the cause of the error.

Issue 4: Login issues

  • Symptoms: Login issues can occur when there are problems with a user’s login credentials or when there are issues with the login page itself. Symptoms of login issues can include being unable to log in to the WordPress dashboard, receiving an error message when trying to log in, or being repeatedly redirected to the login page.
  • Causes: Login issues can be caused by various factors, including incorrect login credentials, plugin conflicts, theme issues, and server issues.
  • Solutions: To troubleshoot login issues, you can try the following solutions: 1. Check your login credentials: Make sure you use the correct username and password. If you have forgotten your password, you can use the “Forgot Password” link to reset it. 2. Deactivate plugins: If a plugin is causing login issues, you can try deactivating all of your plugins and then reactivating them one by one to see if a specific plugin is a cause. 3. Check file permissions: Incorrect file permissions can cause login issues. You can change the permissions of your WordPress files and directories to the recommended values. 4. Seek help from your hosting provider: If you cannot resolve the issue, you may want to seek help from your hosting provider. They can help diagnose the cause of the login issues and suggest other solutions.

Issue 5: Website not loading or taking too long to load

  • Symptoms: If your website is not loading or is taking too long, this can be frustrating and confusing. Symptoms of this issue include the website not loading at all, only partially loading, or taking an excessively long time to load.
  • Causes: Website not loading or taking too long to load can be caused by various factors, including server issues, plugin conflicts, large amounts of content on the website, and incorrect file permissions.
  • Solutions: To troubleshoot a website not loading or taking too long to load issues, you can try the following solutions: 1. Check your server: Server issues can cause your website not to load or load slowly. You can check with your hosting provider to see if there are any known server issues. 2. Deactivate plugins: If a plugin is causing the issue, you can try deactivating all of your plugins and then reactivating them one by one to see if a specific plugin is a cause. 3. Optimize your website’s content: If your website has a large amount of content, this can cause it to load slowly. You can try optimizing your images, minifying your CSS and JavaScript, and using a content delivery network (CDN) to speed up the delivery of your website’s content. 4. Check file permissions: Incorrect file permissions can also cause your website not to load or to load slowly. You can change the permissions of your WordPress files and directories to the recommended values.

Advanced Troubleshooting Techniques

Debugging in WordPress

WordPress includes a built-in debugging feature that allows you to troubleshoot issues with your website. To enable debugging, you can add the following line of code to your wp-config.php file:

define('WP_DEBUG', true);

This will display any errors or warnings on your website, which can help you identify the cause of the issue.

Here are some additional wp-config.php includes that you can use for debugging, logging, and handling errors:

WP_DEBUG_LOG: This setting will cause WordPress to save any errors or warnings to a debug.log file in the /wp-content/ directory. This can be useful if you don’t want errors displayed on your website.

You can enable this setting by adding the following line of code to your wp-config.php file:

define('WP_DEBUG_LOG', true);

WP_DEBUG_DISPLAY: This setting controls whether errors and warnings are displayed on your website. By default, this setting is set to true, meaning errors and warnings will be displayed.

You can disable this setting by adding the following line of code to your wp-config.php file:

define('WP_DEBUG_DISPLAY', false);

SCRIPT_DEBUG: This setting controls whether WordPress uses the development versions of core CSS and JavaScript files. By default, this setting is set to false, which means that WordPress will use the minified versions of these files.

You can enable this setting by adding the following line of code to your wp-config.php file:

define('SCRIPT_DEBUG', true);

WP_DISABLE_FATAL_ERROR_HANDLER: This setting controls whether WordPress handles fatal errors using its handler. By default, this setting is set to false, which means that WordPress will handle fatal errors using its handler.

You can disable this setting by adding the following line of code to your wp-config.php file:

define('WP_DISABLE_FATAL_ERROR_HANDLER', true);

SAVEQUERIES: This setting causes WordPress to save all database queries to an array, which can be helpful for debugging and optimization purposes. Enabling the “SAVEQUERIES” constant in the wp-config.php file will log every database query, the execution time of each query, and the function that calls it.

You can enable this setting by adding the following line of code to your wp-config.php file:

define('SAVEQUERIES', true);

You can then access the array of queries by calling the $wpdb->queries variable. It may be easier for most to use a plugin to view this information. There are several free ones available that can handle this.

WP_DEBUG_DISPLAY: This setting controls whether errors and warnings are displayed on your website. By default, this setting is set to true, meaning errors and warnings will be displayed.

You can disable this setting by adding the following line of code to your wp-config.php file:

define('WP_DEBUG_DISPLAY', false);

Using log files: Log files can help troubleshoot issues with your WordPress website. There are several types of log files that you can access, including Apache log files, PHP log files, and WordPress log files. These log files contain information about website errors, warnings, and other events that can help identify and troubleshoot issues with your website.

You can access log files using your hosting control panel or a plugin like Error Log Viewer. Using a hosting control panel, you can usually find the log files in a section called “Logs” or “Statistics.”

In addition to using log files to troubleshoot issues with your WordPress website, you can also use the WP_DEBUG_LOG setting in your wp-config.php file to log errors and warnings to a debug.log file in the /wp-content/ directory. This can be useful if you don’t want errors displayed on your website. Scroll up to learn how to enable this setting in wp-config.php.

Restoring from backups: If you cannot resolve an issue with your WordPress website, you may need to restore from a backup. It’s crucial to regularly create backups of your website so that you have a recent version to fix if required. You can create backups manually or use a plugin like UpdraftPlus to automate the process.

Wrap Up

We covered some of the most common WordPress issues and provided solutions for resolving them. These issues included the white screen of death, internal server errors, errors establishing a database connection, login issues, and the website not loading or taking too long to load. By identifying the cause of the problem and finding a solution, you can keep your website running smoothly and provide a better user experience for your visitors.

It’s important to note that regular maintenance and updates can also help prevent issues from occurring in the first place. For example, keeping your WordPress core, themes, and plugins up to date can help ensure your website is secure and functioning correctly.

To prevent future issues with your WordPress website, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Use strong, unique passwords for all of your login credentials.
  • Regularly back up your website.
  • Avoid installing nulled or pirated themes or plugins.
  • Use reputable hosting providers.
  • Keep an eye on your website’s performance and address any issues as they arise.

By following these tips and staying vigilant with regular maintenance, you can minimize the risk of issues arising with your WordPress website. Overall, troubleshooting is an essential part of maintaining a successful and efficient WordPress website. We hope this guide has been a helpful resource for you.

Mike Bowden
With a diverse background as a tech enthusiast, writer, educator, and small business owner, I bring decades of experience creating, hosting, securing, and maintaining WordPress websites. Join me on my journey as we navigate the digital age and uncover insights that inspire growth and success.
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