Common WordPress Issues and How to Fix Them

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For many developers, WordPress is a go-to solution for both large and small jobs, however as with most things in life, it’s far from a perfect solution. Despite being a leading platform on the web, WordPress’ versatility makes it difficult to pinpoint the sources of failure when something breaks. While it’s impossible to explain every WordPress issue within this article, the guide below should help you navigate a few of the most common mistakes.

The White Screen of Death

For the few readers who are fortunate enough to have never encountered the white screen of death, this error consists of a blank screen loading when you try to access the site in question.

The two major causes of this error are compatibility issues from plugins and themes. If you can access your administration panel, the best way to pinpoint this error is to try deactivating all your plugins one by one, and if that doesn’t work, then try changing your theme to the default WordPress design.

The First Steps

If you can’t access your administration panel, you’ll have to manually deactivate the plugins and themes over FTP. After logging into your server, navigate to the plugins directory (usually wp-content/plugins) or the themes directory (wp-content/themes) and append ‘_old’ to the end of the name.

From there try accessing your admin panel. If you get in, you can try reactivating your plugins or themes individually until you recreate the issue. Once that happens, you’ll know the primary source of your issues.

Advanced Troubleshooting

For more advanced troubleshooting, you can also go into your wp-config file and set the WP_DEBUG value to true (as shown below):

define( ‘WP_DEBUG’, true );

After doing this, navigate to the page with the error and you should see the details of what is causing your errors. Once you are done, be sure to disable this feature by setting the value to false (as shown below):

define( ‘WP_DEBUG’, false );

Maintenance Mode after an Upgrade

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I Cannot upgrade WP automatically OR using the manual method.
(FPT times out, and my server thinks I’m a hacker). Cannot delete
WP Admin or Includes folders to upload the new ones.

I get errors copying to my WP admin files. Permissions problem.

Also, I want to get rid of Akismet AND the old WP default themes.
They won’t update OR delete.

Hi Claire,

Without accessing your server it’s pretty hard to give exact directions, but usually permissions problems are a matter which can be handled by your web host. More details on WP permissions can be found at:

As far as the server timeout, that likely is due to a PHP setting. You should have your host bump up your WordPress memory.

As mentioned in the article you’ll want to go into your wp_config file and add the following:

define(‘WP_MEMORY_LIMIT’, ‘128M’);

Your host probably could do it for you if you want.

If you follow those two steps you should be good to go. I hope this helps and if you have any other questions, let me know!

I am having a major issue on my Wordpress site and don’t know how to fix it. I had to update the site manually as there was a problem with malware and the ISP shut the site down. I got it back up and running with help from a programmer (paid them of course) but now none of the plugins are showing and it won’t even let me install new plugins. I can see the plugins in the file structure on the server, but they don’t show up in the Wordpress admin panel. And so, part of the site isn’t working as it depends on a couple of the plugins–I don’t even have any editing tools when I go to edit a page.
Please advise.
Thank you.

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