When facing a WordPress error message there’s no need to panic. Same errors have most probably appeared previously to other people and fix WordPress option exists.The use of WordPress publishing platform across the Internet is huge. According to W3Techs, 26.4 % of all existing websites use WordPress as their content management system (CMS) as of 2016, with all other systems trail behind in far lesser single digits. Now, let’s skip the conventional introductory part everyone is familiar with and dive straight into the topic.
If you type in Google search a phrase “How to fix wordpress…” tons of issues come up as suggestions. It clearly demonstrates the extreme flexibility of the platform and a large community of users in constant effort to enhance it.
Of course, in today’s diverse and varied conditions depending on massive number of factors, not mentioning tech advancements, some things inevitably go wrong or crash. “Fix WordPress” issues may include: white screen, database errors, 404 or other types of error messages, URLs and other links, hacks, installation issues, theme issues, image uploads and issues, redirects and so on.
On occasions some plugin won’t work, a theme needs some tweaking, or one needs to re-arrange structural elements…, so at certain point WordPress support services will be in demand for your site. Fortunately, there are plenty of WordPress maintenance agencies out there who can do the job. Now to the top-10 most common errors in no particular order and quick ways to fix them. And don’t forget the backups!
Top-10 Fix WordPress Issues
# 1: Internal server error
Or “500 Internal Server Error” in some cases. This usually means the server can not identify where the problem is. So it’s quite confusing to figure out. Why this happens in WordPress as well, while it isn’t only WordPress specific? Internal server error is often rooted in plugin and/or theme functions, corrupted files or memory limit.
Here are some steps you can take:
- Troubleshoot to check for the corrupted .htaccess file. It is the most frequent cause. Once found, you can try renaming that file and loading the site again. If it works, don’t forget to reset your permalinks in settings, to create a new .htaccess file.
- If it didn’t work, the probable trouble lies in certain plugin. You can deactivate temporarily all plugins to check the source of a problem. If that is the case, you need then to re-activate plugins one by one until you find the one, and remove it.
- Increase the PHP memory limit.
- Finally, you might be forced to contact your hosting provider if nothing helps. Checking the server logs, the provider should definitely find the cause.
# 2: Theme issues
There are literally thousands of WordPress themes designed for almost every industry, business, color or style. FYI, ThemeForest offers around 2500 themes, TemplateMonster has more than 1900, the originator WordPress.org claims 1700 official WP themes, all of which are free, and other numerous theme studios offer approximately 2000 additional themes. Overall there are around 10 000 themes available. What does it mean? You’ve guessed.
Fix WordPress theme issues may be related to broken templates, general look different from the demo version, backing up template files, reinstalling the theme, issues with images etc.
Most themes require certain setup. Usually, these are few things to do to make your theme look like in the demo. For that you can import demo content of a theme – all posts, pages, images. With WordPress themes you typically have some choice about the setup and options, in some themes located in Customize. Upload theme options and enter the settings you prefer. You may want in case of theme issues you can not solve.
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Often a question is: “What do I do if I made changes but can’t see them?” That most probably means one of caching problems:
- clear browser cache and reload the site (ctrl+R), or
- clear plugin cache – go to plugin settings and press “clear cache” button, then refresh the site.
# 3: Image issues
Very often a first-time users can not find how to upload, align, resize, crop or display images in WordPress. And this is actually not an error or issue. Image upload is done with the Media uploader – insert an image, see all images, edit and align, add captions and titles … that all can be done easily. Users can display images in columns and rows, create a gallery.
Many WP themes use post thumbnails on the pages. To avoid missing thumbnails, in the post you can go down to a featured image and insert needed meta data. To fix double post thumbnails issue, you don’t need to insert the image you want to be a featured image in the post. Regarding cropping issues, the WP platform automatically creates 3 size formats for images: small, medium and large. And in some cases you may want to crop the image, and you are able to do so in WordPress. After uploading the image you see an Edit link next to the image, click and open Edit media, press Edit image button and open image editor.
Want to add a background image? This feature is present in WP as well, even many themes come with custom background images option. First you need to check if a theme has custom background support, by going to Appearance menu in admin sidebar. If you theme supports it, you’ll see the Background link in the menu.
# 4: 404 error
There are instances when WordPress may display 404 errors for posts even if those posts are definitely there. Commonly, this happens when permalinks have been switched back and forth by accident. To fix WordPress 404 error you can go to Permalinks settings page and save the setting one more time. Try doing the following:
- check that none of your post pages have the same name, and if that happens rename the single page and it’s slug,
- go to settings – permalinks, and select the default permalinks, then save. After that select the preferred permalinks to remove the rewrite rules.
Many designers and developers install WordPress on a local server, probably for testing or something. Then, for permalinks to function properly, there’s a need to enable the rewrite module in the Apache configuration of your MAMP application (for Macintosh, Apache, MySQL and PHP), as well as WAMP subprotocol or XXAMP.
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# 5: Database connection
“Error establishing a database connection” should be quite easily solved in 2 steps. First, make sure login and password data in the wp-config.php file are correct and valid. If so, it could be that the server of your hosting company is unresponsive, check with them. This can also indicate that the database is corrupt and it’s better to renew it.
Issues with connection are usually caused by troubles with WP-Config.php. So it is advised to access the site, open this file and check if the following is correct:
- database name
- database username
- database password
- database host
WP-Config is probably the most essential file to the whole WordPress installation. In it the database connection is specified, so always check your Wp-config.php file, it should be the same at all times. Also keep in mind that DB_Host value might not always be localhost.
The hosting issues may be causing the chaos, as we said, namely when database has reached its quota and has been shut down, or when the server is down. Or maybe your website has been compromised, hacked in other words. If Wp-config file is ok, and your host is sure there are no problems on his side, possibly you’ve been hacked.
Note: Before making any database changes, perform backups.
# 6: Syntax errors
Syntax errors are usually caused by small mishaps in your code syntax – a missing comma or symbol, or an extra bracket. And it can easily crash the whole script. Maybe you have copied some snippet from the web? Or maybe you have updated a plugin. The error message itself would show the location of the script where the error occurred with a line number. To fix WordPress syntax issue you just need to correct the syntax.
For that identify the line in the code that’s causing the trouble, and either remove it or fix the syntax. In some cases this error makes the site blocked. No need to panic, you can still be able to access the code using FTP. You can always install the FTP program and connect it to your website. When done with fixing the code, save the file and upload it again to the server. Then go back to the site, refresh it and it should be working.
# 7: “Unavailable for maintenance”
Unexpectedly, you might see such message on the front page of your site: Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute.
But you were not aware of any kind maintenance. Everything is OK, no worries. Maintenance mode is not even an error, just a notification. It means during the process of update, WP downloads files to your server, extracts and installs new files. It usually takes few seconds. Though, if a server responds slowly or memory is low, the update script may time out or get interrupted.
Before the update WordPress adds a hidden file called .maintenance to your server, and if after the update that file remains there, you get the notification. To stop this just delete the .maintenance file.
Or you can also edit the maintenance mode notification, if you want it to appear a bit prettier to your visitors. One option is to redirect visitors to a temporary maintenance page in WordPress. The other one is to create a maintenance mode page for yourself. All you need to do is to make a new file maintenance.php and paste it to the site.
# 8: Broken links
This leads to a 404 error when clicked on. But why broken links happen? The reason is those links are trying to redirect traffic to a missing page or a resource, e.g. a domain that no longer exists, a domain with specific firewall settings, a hacked domain, or a domain without proper hosting server. You need to modify or delete broken links.
Though it sounds simple, locating broken links can be a challenge. It depends on the posting frequency and the density of content. Smaller sites with few links can seek manually. With huge number of pages and links that task becomes unbelievably hard. Fortunately, there are special tools for that goal, allowing you to dig through hundreds of links. Broken Link Checker plugin is a good example.
# 9: Redirect
Or redirect loop problem, as generally known in WordPress community. It usually comes up when your website is being transferred to a new server. Something gets lost in the process, e.g. “www”. It can be that many versions of the same URL exist redirecting to each other, and in result none of them work.
The other probable reason can be the use of PageSpeed for the site optimization, or some similar tool. Google cache is the problem then, as URL sends a user to cache and to the server without end. The fix here is to delete the PageSpeed cache and start a new one. Following these steps may relieve you:
- reset permalinks – in your admin area change and save settings, it will automatically create a new htaccess file replacing the old possibly broken file
- if using Google PageSpeed tool, login and click on “caching and errors”, type your URL in the “flush caches” box, then click the “flush” button and wait few seconds until the process is complete.
- set up the site URL, defining it with or without the “www” in the directory.
And finally, “cream of the crop” error, known as White Screen of Death so feared by many.
# 10: White screen
Kind of WordPress version of Microsoft’s blue screen, aka #WSOD, the most common fix WordPress issue. All you get is white screen without any error notifications, and therefore no clue where to look or what to fix. The reason you’ve probably already googled and know that most of the time it happens as a script exceeds PHP memory limit, or due to server configuration.
So first you increasing the memory limit. If it didn’t help try to troubleshoot the issue, possibly you’ll find errors with plugins or a theme. Once you’ve disabled all plugins and it too didn’t help, try replacing your theme with a default one (backing up your theme folder). The issue might lay in theme’s functions.php file, extra spaces in it, or badly coded theme. If nothing of the above fixes the WP issue, the other way out is to re-install a recent copy of the site.
Let WSOD never happen to your site
In summary, this is not the full list, of course. No platform is perfect, and in WordPress you might also face dozens of issues, e.g. missing buttons, low memory, login page refreshing, unknown columns, execution time excesses, specific error messages, connection time-outs, failed auto-upgrades, missing stylesheets etc. But that’s not a sign of weakness, these common fix WordPress issues take 30 minutes average for an WP expert to solve. Besides, there are thousands of forum posts on WordPress.org and other places regarding any issues that can be dealt with quickly and on your own.
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