No matter how prepared you are, it happens. Your WordPress powered site is acting funny. Maybe it’s the “white screen of death” or maybe a widget isn’t working, or things are just looking weird. What do you do? Before your freak out and call your host, here is how you can trouble shoot your own WordPress problem and save the day!
Most issues are caused by theme or plugin incompatibilities. This can be between themes and plugins, plugins and WordPress, WordPress and themes or any combination of the three. So we are going to start with your plugins. If you have made any recent changes to your WordPress powered site, such as, updating a plugin or theme, start there! Usually it’s the last thing you did that leads to problems! So if you just installed and activated a new theme, revert to a default theme. If you just installed and activated a new plugin, deactivate it. That should address your problems, if not, or if you didn’t do anything to your site proceed below:
1. Log into your WordPress site and go to the dashboard.
“Wait I can’t log into my WordPress site!!!”
Don’t worry, I have you covered too! Skip the rest and click here!
2. Go to your plugins, disable ALL plugins.
Then check your site. Is it running? Does it seem to be working normally (aside from all those missing plugin features)? If so, you know you have a plugin issue! Now that you have it narrowed down, it’s time to check every plugin. Enable your plugins one at a time. Every time you enable a plugin, visit your site and make sure it’s still operating normally. If you enable a plugin and there is an issue you know that plugin is responsible. This gives you 2 options: either go to the plugin creator for support and report the bug, or disable the plugin and wait for an update or find an alternate plugin.
3. Plugins aren’t the problem!
The next thing to try is your themes. Go to your Themes. Activate one of the default themes. Does your site work normally (or close to it, it will look differently due to the difference in themes). If so you know you have a theme issue. Contact the theme’s creator for support or your friendly neighborhood developer.
I Can’t Log In! It’s the White Screen of Death!
Sometimes, some issues leave you with just a big white screen of nothingness. Usually this is a PHP error. It can be caused by either a theme issue or a plugin issue. Fixing it will take some special tools, and potentially some coding knowledge on your part. Depending on your comfort levels and knowledge you might want to contact your host for support or your friendly neighborhood developer. Proceed only at your own risk! You can cause even more things to not work by fiddling with code you don’t understand! You’ve been warned!
You will need: an FTP program (and your FTP account settings), Notepad or other text editor (nothing fancy here, no rich text editors and no Word, just Notepad).
First Log into your FTP program and into your site’s FTP account.
Once there navigate to the directory that contains your WordPress installation files and open the wp-config.php file. Once there scroll down until you come to the WP_DEBUG section. It will say false, change the false to true. Save the file and re-upload it, overwriting the old file.
Now go visit your site.
You will probably see a PHP error. This will give you a clue as to what is causing your white screen of death. Look at the url in the PHP error, if it mentions a plugins folder (ex. wp-content/plugins/yourpluginthatscrewingeverythingup) it means you have a plugin issue. If it mentions wp-content/themes/yourthemename it’s a theme issue.
Go back to your FTP program (Simon Says!).
If your PHP error was about a plugin issue, go to your plugin folder. It will be located within the wp-content folder in a directory named “plugins”. Rename or delete the plugin that was causing the issues. Then try your site again. It should now be working, and you should be able to log in.
If your problem was a theme issue, do the same thing for your theme. Your them will also be in the wp-content folder in the “themes” directory. Rename your theme. This will cause WordPress to default to a default theme. Go visit your site again, it should be using one of the default WordPress themes. You now will be able to log into your site.
Once you are done, go back to your wp-config.php and change WP_DEBUG to false once more. Then save & upload the file as before. But what do you do with your troublemakers? That theme or plugin that caused you so many issues? The best option is to first contact the creators of the plugin/theme and explain your problems, they may be able to help you or will fix it in a future update of the theme/plugin. Until it’s fixed or you are given a work around solution you can delete it if you no longer want it and will be using a different plugin/theme, or rename it back to it’s original and make sure it’s deactivated to wait for an update.
If you still cannot access your site, it’s time to get professional help. Try starting with your hosting provider’s support. They often can help you fix most WordPress problems.
Want to avoid all this troubleshooting headache? Learn how you can update your themes and plugins like a pro and avoid the bother of troubleshooting!