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Beginner’s Guide to Troubleshooting WordPress Errors (Step by Step)

Are you encountering a common WordPress error on your site? Do you want to troubleshoot these WordPress errors on your own? Most of these errors can be solved by following easy troubleshooting steps. In this beginner’s guide, we will show you how to troubleshoot WordPress errors one step at a time.

Troubleshooting WordPress errors

1. Create a Complete Backup of Your WordPress Site

First thing you should do is to create a complete backup of your WordPress site. If you were already using a WordPress backup plugin, then make sure that you have a recent backup safely stored somewhere.

If you were not using a backup plugin, then you should start using one immediately. However, in case you don’t have access to the admin area of your WordPress site, then you will need to manually backup your database and files.

Backups allow you to restore your WordPress site easily when something goes wrong. They are your first and most important defence against security threats, hacking, and data loss.

2. Clear Browser Cache

A lot of times, your browser may not realize that a WordPress page or post has changed and will load it from the browser cache. This will cause you to view an older version of that page or post.

You may need to clear your browser cache to ensure that you are seeing the latest version of a page. We have detailed guide which will show you how to clear browser cache in all major browsers.

3. Clear Your WordPress Cache

If you are using a WordPress caching plugin like WP Rocket, then you may be seeing a cached version of your website. Some top WordPress hosting companies like Bluehost and Siteground also implement their own caching to improve performance.

You need to clear your WordPress cache to make sure that your website is not serving a cached version.

4. Deactivate All Plugins Installed on Your Website

Most of the times errors are caused by a plugins conflicting with each other, your theme, or the WordPress core. Deactivating all WordPress plugins on your site will most likely solve the problem. You can then find out which plugin was causing the issue by activating plugins one by one on your site.

If you have access to the admin area of your WordPress site, then simply head over to the plugins page.

Select and deactivate all plugins in WordPress

First, you need to select all plugins, and then select ‘Deactivate’ from ‘Bulk Actions’ drop down menu. Click on the Apply button to deactivate all selected plugins.

If you do not have access to the admin area, then you will need to use FTP or phpMyAdmin to deactivate all plugins.

Simply connect to your website using an FTP client. If you haven’t used FTP before, then you may want to see our how to use FTP to upload files to WordPress.

Navigate to the wp-content folder and rename plugins folder to “plugin.deactivate”.

Rename plugins folder using FTP

For more detailed instructions, see our article on how to deactivate all plugins when not able to access wp-admin.

5. Switch to a Default WordPress Theme

Sometimes your WordPress theme can cause issues on your site. You can easily find out if your theme is causing an issue by switching to a default WordPress theme like Twenty Nineteen or Twenty Twenty.

Head over to Appearance » Themes page and then click on the Activate button next to a default theme.

Switch to a default WordPress theme

However, if you don’t have access to the admin area of your WordPress site, then you will need to use FTP to switch theme.

Connect to your website using an FTP client and then navigate to /wp-content/themes/ folder. Download your current active theme as a backup to your Desktop.

After that, you need to delete all themes except a default WordPress theme like TwentySixteen. Since your active theme will no longer be available, WordPress will now automatically switch to using the default theme available.

If your theme was causing the issue, then you should be able to log in to your WordPress site now.

6. Refresh Permalinks

WordPress uses SEO friendly URL structure or Permalinks. Sometimes the permalink structure is not updated or configured properly, which may result in unexpected 404 errors on your site.

You can easily refresh permalinks without changing anything on your WordPress site. Visit Settings » Permalinks page and click on ‘Save Changes’ button without changing anything.

Update permalinks in WordPress

7. Backup and Delete .htaccess File

A corrupt .htaccess file is often the cause of the internal server error.

First, you need to connect to your website using an FTP client. The .htaccess file is located in your site’s root directory.

Since it is a hidden file, you may need to force your FTP client to show hidden files. See our article on why you can’t find .htaccess file on your WordPress site

You need to download the .htaccess file to your computer as a backup, and then delete it from your web server.

You can now try to login to your WordPress site and go to Settings » Permalinks page. Click on the Save Changes button to refresh your permalinks and to regenerate a new .htaccess file for your site.

8. Fix WordPress Site URL

Having incorrect settings for WordPress URL and Site URL options can also cause redirect issues, 404 errors, and some other common issues.

WordPress URL and Site URL options can be changed from admin area by visiting Settings » General page.

Changing WordPress Address and Site Address options from admin area

Make sure that both URLs are exactly the same.

If you do not have access to the admin area of your WordPress site, then you can change these URLs using FTP. There are two ways to do that using FTP:

Update WordPress URL and Site URL Settings in wp-config.php File

Once connected to your website using an FTP client, locate wp-config.php file. Now you need to edit this file in a text editor like Notepad.

Go to the line that says /* That's all, stop editing! Happy blogging. */, and just before it, add this code:

define('WP_HOME','http://example.com');
define('WP_SITEURL','http://example.com');

Don’t forget to replace example.com with your own domain name. Now save your changes and upload the file back to your server.

Update URLs Using functions.php File

You can also update URLs using your theme’s functions.php file.

Open your FTP client and navigate to /wp-content/themes/ folder. Open your current active theme’s folder and locate functions.php file inside it. Now you will need to edit the functions.php file in a text editor like Notepad.

Simply add these lines at the bottom of the functions file:

update_option( 'siteurl', 'http://example.com' );
update_option( 'home', 'http://example.com' );

Don’t forget to change WordPress URLs from the settings page after you login to your site. Once you have added them on the settings page, you need to delete these lines from your theme’s functions file.

9. Check Reading Settings

If your newly created WordPress site is not indexed by search engines, then this is the first thing that you should do.

Login to your WordPress site and go to Settings » Reading page. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and make sure that the box next to ‘Search Engine Visibility’ is unchecked.

Search engine visibility

This option allows you to discourage search engines from showing your website in search. It is used by webmasters when they are working on a website that is not ready to be live. Sometimes you can accidentally check this setting and forget about it.

Make sure that this option is unchecked when your website is ready to go live.

10. Troubleshooting Email Issues

Many WordPress hosting providers do not have mail settings properly configured. This stops you and your users to receive emails from WordPress.

If you are using a contact form plugin, then you will not be able to receive those emails as well. You will also not receive any WordPress notifications.

See our complete step by step instructions in our article on how to fix WordPress not sending email issue.

11. Scanning for Malware and Backdoors

If you suspect that your WordPress site is affected with malware, then you should scan your website with Sucuri. It is the best website security monitoring service for WordPress site owners.

See our case study of how Sucuri helped us block 450,000 WordPress attacks in 3 months.

For more detailed instructions, see our guide on how to scan your WordPress site for potentially malicious code.

Getting Better Support

After following the above mentioned troubleshooting steps, you would be able to fix many of the most common WordPress errors. However, if the problem persists, then you can seek further support.

WordPress is a community software, so you can get help from the community by posting in WordPress support forums. Here is how to write a better support request:

  • Be polite and nice. No matter how upset or frustrated you are, do not use harsh language.
  • Mention your problem briefly.
  • Describe troubleshooting steps you have taken so far.
  • Uplaod screenshots on a cloud image sharing service, and then add the links in your support thread.

For more on this topic, take a look at our guide on how to properly ask for WordPress support and get it.

We hope this article helped you learn how to troubleshoot WordPress errors. You may also want to see our list of 14 most common WordPress errors and how to fix them.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

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Reader Interactions

26 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Thank you for your support for the non-working embed block. As you mentioned in your e-mail, it’s caused by an asset optimization plugin. I deactivated its combine function and the problem solved. Great support! Thanks a lot.

  2. Bulk deactivating all the plugins and reactivating them one by one solved the problem of the images not showing on my posts. Found the culprit plugin and deactivated it.

    Thanks for this helpful post.

  3. When my customers attempt to change their address I the account page, they are getting a “failed security check” error in the top left corner of a plain white screen. Is this a settings issue or coding?

    • You may want to try clearing any caching on your site and if you are using a security plugin, reach out to their support to ensure there isn’t something in their settings that could be causing this.

      Admin

  4. Hello sir, I have issues with my WordPress site in Plugins problems. dont accept the plugins what i do

  5. Hello, Thank you for this article. I’ve used WordPress often and never had an issue sharing my sites on Facebook. This week I picked up a project that another designer/developer gave up on. I noticed broken links had a long link that seems like a local host link. I changed those and made some other changes. The client went to post on Instagram and Facebook and the site says it doesn’t meet community standards, is there an easy solution to fix this? Plugin, FTP, Outsource service? It’s crucial for the site to be on Facebook and Instagram.

  6. Good Afternoon
    I have uploaded up a wordpress theme from the wordpress.org themes. But when it is suppose to upload to my site, I got a message that there is nothing to be find. Could you please help?

  7. I am seeing the error every time I open my Install-Plugins.php or Theme Install page.
    An Unexpected error occurred. Something may be wrong with WordPress.org or this server’s configuration. If you continue to have problems, please try the support forums.
    I know this error is caused when Outbound port 80/443 is blocked for your hosting account. And it can be easily rectified from Cpanel and I even know that method. But the problem is I don’t have access to my Cpanel. I found a way to solve it through FTP by editing wp-config.php file and putting there a code. But it didn’t work out. I also resaved the settings of my WordPress but all my tries to solve that issue gone vain. I have also check my PC and it is not blocking anything.
    Can You please help me solve this issue?

  8. Hi, I am really needing advise I am running WP 4.8.2, I am a beginner and I have Social Socializer & BuddyPress downloaded to my WP Site site because I thought I had to have it to connect it to connect it to my site, it is causing me far too much work and headaches for a beginner, do I really have to have this to connect to BuddyPress? The less I have to work with the better but at the same time I have to connect to my site so can you please give me some advice on this matter?I need to get going & I seem to spend so much time on Socializer when I want to get going on BuddyPress ,Kind Regards Rosalie Muir

  9. Hello,

    when i click to customize menu i got fatal error . does this have a solution .could this be the cause of the problem? And also i cant add and edir product image and menu

    here is error

    Fatal error: Uncaught exception ‘Exception’ with message ‘Illegal widget setting ID: nav_menu_item[]’ in /var/www/….

  10. Kind hellos,

    Today, I started a wordpress account and began designing my first website. One of the first things that I did was upload an image to use for my header. I uploaded the file and WordPress gave me a single option: “crop image”. I set the crop borders and clicked “crop image.” It thought about it for 10 or so seconds and then presented the error: “unable to crop image.” The image does not violate my image file settings. This is pretty frustrating. Anybody have a solution?

  11. Hallo good people, I am trying to upload images into my wordpress site,it loads but before the images is totally uploaded, the upload fails and it tells me “http error”…I am desperate now, how do i fix it?Kindly help me out

  12. I have lost old ‘url’ only known to myself and WordPress for my old site which has been private for a long time now.. whenI am trying to get back they send a code to the OLD mobile. I can’t get in no matter how much they try to help me. I am over 70 year of age and didn’t expect that I would be wishing to upgrade my old site until I saw the amount of visitors I missed in an accidental safe search of my old Blog’s name. Despite trying to get a FREE TRIAL which I had to cancel as I still could not get in as they asked me to log into my OLD SITE which I feel is ridiculous..also I have THYROID concentration problems and cannot remember all the date they send to disable this two-step verification code. WHY can’t they just go in and change my mobile number for me? It’s linked to GOOGLE/YOUTUBE etc. so they would KNOW it is still me…I decided mid April to begin a Pay To View but cannot get into the old site at all nor move on with another new one fron WordPress as they keep doing same thing…My OLD MOBILE is long gone in a bin and only my new mobile should be used…I am now STATIC myself…

  13. Great article. this was very helpful especially in regards to making some of these changes via FTP. Thanks!

  14. Is there any way to remove the side click bar in WordPress Classic called Streams- I have to use classic because my work computer has old IExplorer (8)- they are technological Neanderthals? It covers over admin links such as Media links?

  15. Hi there, I love your website and I have been using it frequently the past few weeks. I really appreciate that this is here! However, I’ve just encountered a problem that I haven’t found anywhere on your site. I installed the most recent WordPress successfully and I even got the new database set up and connected successfully (per the “success” message). However, when I visit my page and log into WordPress, I do not get the WordPress Dashboard… I only get an Index page listing all of the files in the directory. Literally just basic HTML and a file list. Has anyone ever seen this before? I’m stumped and hoping I don’t have to delete all of the files from the FTP server and start all over! Thanks for any suggestions you can provide. :-/

  16. Hello sir, I have issues with my WordPress site in search console which says missing updated error and missing author error please guide me his to resolve it. When take a structure data test for pages on my website every thing results fine no error.

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