Troubleshooting WordPress: A Comprehensive Guide to Resolving Common Issues

Troubleshooting WordPress

Troubleshooting WordPress problems is something every WordPress website owner will be faced with. This is the same for every CMS technology, but luckily, with WordPress being the most popular CMS on the web, there is help available!

WordPress is a robust platform, but like any software, it can encounter hiccoughs along the way. Understanding how to troubleshoot these WordPress issues will save you time and frustration as well as money.

Troubleshooting WordPress – What Are the most common problems?

Every WordPress website is unique and with so many combinations of WordPress themes and plugins possible, troubleshooting WordPress problems can be different for every website.

There are however, a lot of issues that are common regardless of your WordPress setup. Over the past 18 years, our expert WordPress developers have fixed WordPress problems both small and large and in this guide we will cover the most common issues we have come across when troubleshooting WordPress websites for clients.

These WordPress Problems include:

  1. Website not loading properly
  2. White screen of death
  3. Error Establishing a Database Connection
  4. Plugins Causing Compatibility Issues
  5. WordPress Theme Compatibility Problems
  6. Slow Website Performance
  7. Security Breaches and Hacked Websites
  8. Missing Styles or Broken Formatting
  9. WordPress Update Problems
  10. WordPress Spam

1. Troubleshooting WordPress Not Loading Properly

Is your WordPress website failing to load correctly? This can be a frustrating experience for both site owners and visitors. Luckily, there are a few potential causes and solutions to this problem.

First, cheque your internet connection to ensure it’s stable. A weak or unreliable connection can lead to slow or incomplete page loading. If your connection is stable, the issue may lie within your website’s theme or plugins.

To identify if a theme or plugin is causing the problem, try switching to a default WordPress theme (such as Twenty Twenty-One). If the issue resolves itself, you can conclude that your theme was the culprit. In that case, consider reaching out to the theme developer for assistance or switch to a different theme altogether.

If the issue persists even with the default theme, you should deactivate your plugins one by one to pinpoint the problematic one. Start with recently installed or updated plugins, as they are more likely to be the cause. Once you find the problematic plugin, you can either disable it, reach out to the plugin developer for support, or look for an alternative plugin that serves the same purpose.

2. Troubleshooting WordPress White Screen of Death

Encountering a white screen when trying to access your WordPress site can be alarming, but fear not! This phenomenon is commonly known as the “White Screen of Death” (WSOD) and can be resolved by following a few troubleshooting steps.

First, cheque for any recent changes made to your website, such as installing new themes or plugins or modifying your code. These changes may have triggered a conflict or an error that resulted in the white screen.

To narrow down the cause, access your WordPress root directory via FTP or your hosting control panel and locate the “wp-config.php” file. Open it and ensure that the following line is present:

define('WP_DEBUG', true);

Enabling the debug mode will display error messages on your website, allowing you to identify the underlying issue. If error messages appear, they will often provide clues as to which file or plugin is causing the problem.

If the debug mode doesn’t reveal any error messages, you can try increasing the PHP memory limit for your site. To do this, access the “wp-config.php” file again and add the following line:

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

Save the changes and reload your site. If the white screen persists, don’t hesitate to contact your web hosting provider for further assistance.

3. Error Establishing a Database Connection

One of the most common issues WordPress users encounter is the dreaded “Error Establishing a Database Connection.” This error occurs when WordPress is unable to connect to your website’s database, preventing it from retrieving the necessary information to load your site.

To troubleshoot this issue, start by verifying your database credentials. Open the “wp-config.php” file and ensure that the following lines are correctly configured with your database information:

define('DB_NAME', 'database_name');
define('DB_USER', 'database_user');
define('DB_PASSWORD', 'database_password');
define('DB_HOST', 'localhost');

If any of these credentials are incorrect, update them accordingly. Additionally, you can cheque if your database server is running correctly and if it has enough available disk space.

If the issue persists after verifying your database credentials, it’s possible that your database tables are corrupted. To fix this, you can use the built-in WordPress repair feature. Add the following line to your “wp-config.php” file, just above the line that says “That’s all, stop editing!”:

define('WP_ALLOW_REPAIR', true);

Save the file and access the following URL in your web browser: https://yourdomain.com/wp-admin/maint/repair.php. Replace “yourdomain.com” with your actual domain. On the page that appears, select the “Repair Database” option to initiate the repair process. Once completed, remove the repair line from your “wp-config.php” file for security purposes.

4. Troubleshooting WordPress Plugins Causing Compatibility Issues

Plugins are a fundamental aspect of the WordPress ecosystem, offering various functionalities and enhancing the overall user experience. However, sometimes plugins can clash, leading to compatibility issues and potential errors on your site. Here’s how you can troubleshoot plugin conflicts:

Begin by deactivating all your plugins and checking if the issue persists. If the problem disappears, you can deduce that one or more plugins are causing the conflict. To identify the culprit, reactivate your plugins one by one and test your site after each activation. This process will help you pinpoint the specific plugin that triggers the problem.

Once you identify the problematic plugin, you have several options. First, ensure that the plugin is up to date, as outdated versions may contain bugs or compatibility issues. If an update is available, install it and test your site again.

If the issue persists even with the latest version, consider reaching out to the plugin developer for support. Most plugin developers have support forums or contact forms where you can report the issue and seek assistance.

In some cases, you may need to find an alternative plugin that offers similar functionality. Consult the WordPress Plugin Directory or reputable third-party websites to discover plugins with good ratings and positive reviews.

5. Troubleshooting WordPress Theme Compatibility Problems

Themes play a crucial role in shaping the visual appearance of your WordPress website. However, when you update your theme or WordPress version, compatibility problems may arise, causing layout issues or even breaking certain functionalities.

To troubleshoot theme compatibility problems, start by ensuring that you are using the latest version of both your theme and WordPress. Theme developers frequently release updates to address bugs and compatibility issues, so keeping your theme up to date is vital.

If the problem persists after updating your theme and WordPress, cheque if the theme supports the current version of WordPress you are using. Some older themes may not be compatible with the latest WordPress updates, leading to conflicts. In this case, consider reaching out to the theme developer for guidance or look for an alternative theme that meets your requirements.

6. Troubleshooting WordPress Slow Loading Times

A slow-loading website can frustrate visitors and harm your search engine rankings. If your WordPress site is experiencing sluggish performance, it’s essential to address the issue promptly. Let’s explore some troubleshooting steps to enhance your website’s speed.

First and foremost, ensure that your website is hosted on a reliable and fast server. Cheap or inadequate hosting services may result in slow loading times. Consider upgrading your hosting plan or switching to a reputable hosting provider known for its speed and performance.

Next, optimise your images to reduce their file sizes. Large image files can significantly slow down your website. You can use image optimisation plugins or online tools to compress your images without compromising their quality. Additionally, consider implementing a caching plugin to store static versions of your website’s pages, reducing the load on your server and improving response times.

Minimising the number of HTTP requests made by your website is another effective way to enhance performance. Review your theme and plugins and remove any unnecessary elements that contribute to excessive requests. Combining and minifying CSS and JavaScript files can also reduce the number of requests made.

Furthermore, consider implementing a content delivery network (CDN) to deliver your website’s assets from servers located closer to your visitors. A CDN can significantly improve loading times, particularly for users located in different geographic regions.

7. Troubleshooting WordPress Security Breaches and Hacked Websites

Website security is of paramount importance, and WordPress sites are not immune to potential security breaches. If you suspect that your WordPress site has been compromised or hacked, it’s crucial to take immediate action to restore its security and integrity.

First, scan your website for malware using a reputable security plugin. There are several reliable security plugins available in the WordPress Plugin Directory that can help you detect and remove malware. Activate a security plugin and perform a thorough scan of your site, following the instructions provided.

If the scan identifies any malicious code or infected files, the security plugin will typically provide an option to clean or remove them. It’s essential to proceed with caution and carefully review the suggested actions before executing them to avoid unintentional data loss or disruption of your site.

To strengthen your website’s security, ensure that you are using strong and unique passwords for all user accounts associated with your WordPress site. Additionally, keep your WordPress version, themes, and plugins up to date, as developers frequently release security patches and bug fixes.

Consider implementing a Web Application Firewall (WAF) to provide an additional layer of protection against common security threats. A WAF can help filter out malicious traffic and block potential attacks on your website.

8. Troubleshooting WordPress Missing Styles or Broken Formatting

Have you ever visited a website and encountered missing styles, broken layouts, or improper formatting? These issues can arise due to various reasons, but they can often be resolved by following a few troubleshooting steps.

First, clear your browser cache and reload the page. Caches store temporary files and data to speed up subsequent visits to a website. Sometimes, cached files can become outdated or corrupted, resulting in missing styles or broken formatting. Clearing the cache forces your browser to retrieve fresh files from the server, potentially resolving the issue.

If clearing the cache doesn’t resolve the problem, cheque if the issue persists across different browsers and devices. If the problem is isolated to a specific browser or device, it may be related to browser compatibility or device-specific issues. In this case, try updating your browser to the latest version or test your website on different devices to gather more information about the problem.

If the issue persists across multiple browsers and devices, it’s time to investigate your website’s code. Inspect the affected elements using your browser’s developer tools and look for any missing or improperly linked CSS or JavaScript files. Additionally, cheque if there are any conflicting styles or scripts that may be causing the issue.

If you recently made changes to your theme’s code or custom CSS, review those modifications to ensure they are correct and haven’t caused any unintended consequences. Rollback changes if necessary or consult with a developer for further assistance.

9. Troubleshooting WordPress Update Problems

Regularly updating your WordPress core, themes, and plugins is crucial to ensure compatibility, security, and access to new features. However, updating can sometimes lead to unexpected issues. Let’s explore troubleshooting methods for problems arising from WordPress updates.

Before performing any updates, it’s essential to create a full backup of your website. This precautionary measure allows you to restore your site in case something goes wrong during the update process. Several backup plugins are available that can simplify this task.

If you encounter issues after updating WordPress, first ensure that all your themes and plugins are also up to date. Outdated themes or plugins may not be compatible with the latest WordPress version, resulting in conflicts or errors. Update any outdated themes or plugins to their latest versions and test your site again.

If the problem persists after updating all themes and plugins, you can try reverting to a previous version of WordPress. While not recommended for extended periods, rolling back to a previous version can help determine if the issue is specific to the latest update. Consult the WordPress.org website or support forums for instructions on how to revert to a previous version.

If you are unable to pinpoint the problem or resolve it on your own, it may be time to seek assistance from a professional WordPress developer or the official WordPress support forums. They can provide personalised guidance based on your specific situation.

10. Troubleshooting WordPress Spam

Receiving way too much spam through your contact forms? Is every post you make on your website getting a bunch of spammy comments? With WordPress being so popular as a CMS, it will inevitably attract the attention of spammers.

Luckily, WordPress has a number of tools you can use to minimise the spam on your website. One such tool is the Akismet WordPress plugin. Akismet is designed to block the most common spam techniques and help prevent your site and your inbox becoming inundated with spam links.

Spambots are mostly quite dumb and are coded to search for the most common WordPress vulnerabilities. Others use more complex techniques however, so additional protections can be required. Utilising free Google’s reCaptcha is one such way to protect your contact forms. reCaptcha is that annoying “Prove you’re not a robot” box you will often come across on websites. These days, Google’s reCaptcha is less intrusive and only shows it to the site visitors it thinks may be showing the patterns associated with a spammer so the majority of your site’s visitors would never see it.

There are also multiple WordPress plugins that can help block spammers from submitting your site’s forms. Free plugins like WP Armour and Cleantalk integrate with the most popular contact form plugins and when activated, will block spam traffic from your contact forms.

10. Common FAQs about Troubleshooting WordPress

Q: What should I do if I forget my WordPress admin password?

A: Don’t worry! You can reset your WordPress admin password easily. On the login page, click on the “Lost your password?” link. Enter your username or email address, and WordPress will send you a password reset link to your registered email. Follow the instructions in the email to reset your password.

Q: How can I optimise my WordPress database?

A: To optimise your WordPress database, you can use plugins such as WP-Optimise or WP Rocket. These plugins allow you to clean up unnecessary data, remove spam comments, optimise database tables, and improve overall performance. Install and activate the plugin of your choice, and follow the instructions provided to optimise your database.

Q: My WordPress site is displaying a “403 Forbidden” error. What should I do?

A: A “403 Forbidden” error typically indicates that you don’t have permission to access a specific page or resource on your website. To troubleshoot this issue, ensure that the file permissions for your WordPress files and directories are correctly set. The recommended file permission for folders is 755, and for files, it’s 644. If the issue persists, reach out to your web hosting provider for assistance.

Q: How can I improve the security of my WordPress site?

A: Enhancing the security of your WordPress site involves several steps. First, ensure that you are using strong and unique passwords for all user accounts. Keep your WordPress core, themes, and plugins up to date to avoid known vulnerabilities. Implement a reputable security plugin, enable two-factor authentication, and regularly backup your website. Additionally, consider using a secure hosting provider and implementing a Web Application Firewall (WAF) for added protection.

Q: Can I move my WordPress site to a different hosting provider?

A: Yes, it is possible to migrate your WordPress site to a different hosting provider. The process involves transferring your files, database, and settings to the new hosting environment. You can manually migrate your site or use migration plugins such as Duplicator or All-in-One WP Migration. However, it is recommended to seek professional assistance or carefully follow step-by-step tutorials to ensure a smooth and error-free migration.

Q: How can I troubleshoot WordPress email issues?

A: If you’re experiencing problems with WordPress emails, start by checking your spam folder to see if the emails are being mistakenly flagged as spam. Ensure that your WordPress installation has a valid email address configured for sending emails. Additionally, consider using SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) plugins, such as WP Mail SMTP or Easy WP SMTP, to improve email deliverability and reliability.

Q: Why am I unable to upload images to WordPress?

A: There can be several reasons why you are unable to upload images to WordPress. First, cheque if the file you are trying to upload exceeds the maximum upload file size limit set by your hosting provider. If it does, you can increase the limit by modifying the “php.ini” file or contacting your hosting support. Also, ensure that your website has enough available disk space. If the issue persists, disable your plugins temporarily, as they can sometimes interfere with the upload process.

Q: How do I add SSL/HTTPS to my WordPress site?

A: To add SSL/HTTPS to your WordPress site, you need to obtain an SSL certificate from a certificate authority (CA). Many hosting providers offer free SSL certificates through services like Let’s Encrypt. Once you have the SSL certificate, install and activate a plugin like Really Simple SSL. The plugin will handle the necessary redirects and update your site’s URLs to use HTTPS. Remember to update any hardcoded HTTP links in your content to ensure a secure browsing experience.

Q: Why is my WordPress site redirecting to another website?

A: If your WordPress site is redirecting to another website, it is likely that your site has been hacked or compromised. This issue often occurs when malicious code is injected into your site’s files or database. Scan your site for malware using a reputable security plugin and follow the steps mentioned earlier to clean and secure your site. It’s also recommended to change all passwords associated with your WordPress site for added security.

Q: How can I optimise my WordPress site for search engines (SEO)?

A: Optimising your WordPress site for search engines involves various techniques. Start by installing an SEO plugin like Yoast SEO or Rank Math, which will guide you through optimising your content, titles, meta descriptions, and more. Focus on creating high-quality and relevant content, optimising your images with descriptive alt tags, using clean and user-friendly URLs, and building quality backlinks. Regularly monitor your site’s performance in search engine rankings and make adjustments as needed.

Conclusion

Troubleshooting WordPress doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task. By familiarising yourself with common issues and their solutions, you can quickly address problems that arise on your WordPress website.

One immediate thing you can do right now is to set your site up so troubleshooting WordPress issues become something you’d only need to day once in a while.

Remember to take regular backups, keep your themes and plugins up to date, and follow security best practises to minimise the likelihood of encountering issues in the first place. With a little patience and the right troubleshooting techniques, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle any challenges that come your way and ensure a smooth and successful WordPress experience.

Troubleshooting WordPress problems can be frustrating for site owners, especially those who may not be familiar with how WordPress works behind the scenes but we hope this guide to Troubleshooting WordPress issues can help you should your website face one of these common issues.

Troubleshooting WordPress – Still need help?

If you have read the Troubleshooting WordPress guide and still need help then why not contact our WordPress experts!? Troubleshooting WordPress problems is something we do every day and chances are, we’ll be able to fix your website quickly.

When troubleshooting WordPress problems we will quickly identify the problem your WordPress site is facing and let you know how quickly it can be fixed and how much it would cost. You may be surprised by how quick and affordable our fix can be! A lot of WordPress fixes can even be something you can quickly fix yourself without needing to have any technical knowledge and if we can identify an issue like that we will let you know and there would be no charge!

Troubleshooting WordPress by hiring a WordPress developer can be risky – but not with us! We don’t charge for investigating the problem when troubleshooting WordPress issues so if we can’t find the fix, you won’t be charged anything.

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