10 Common WordPress Errors and How to Fix Them

If you have your business website built off of WordPress, you’ll most likely run into some common WordPress errors. You’re also faced with one right now, otherwise you wouldn’t have found your way here.

Don’t worry. The odds are in your favor. Having built your site with WordPress, you have other users who have gone through the same WordPress errors and have most likely found a fix.

In this article, we’re breaking down ten of the most common errors WordPress users run into with easy fixes you can do yourself.

But first, a word to the wise…

Backup your site!

Some of the processes we’ll share with you today require a bit of tinkering on the backend which can lead to God knows what tragicomedies. You’ll prevent a good deal of potential stress if you backup your site before you make any changes.

Your web host usually offers a variation of such a service, but you can do it yourself by using WordPress plugins. Though it will cost you a bit of money, Vaultpress is a light but mighty solution. However in most cases, UpdraftPlus’ free plugin works just fine. There’s also the option of doing it manually if that tickles your fancy.

Regardless of which process you go with, it’s essential that you have a WordPress backup in place before you try anything.

To alleviate any more problems in this process, you might also want to do some WordPress troubleshooting and pinpoint exactly what you’re trying to fix.

With all that said, let’s dive in!

1. 500 Internal Server Error

The Problem:

This is one of the most common errors WordPress users face, largely because it means that something went south with your server and WordPress doesn’t know exactly what it is.

You can easily detect this problem when you get an “Internal Server Error” or “500 Internal Server Error” when you log on to your WordPress site.

The Solution:

As you can imagine, there are a number of ways you can go about fixing this error.

Check your .htaccess file

The .htaccess file is your friend. It helps your site know how to function by directing it with rewrite rules. But it can also be a huge pain as it makes changes whenever you add new functions to your site. As such, it can get corrupted and cause you to get the dreaded error.

Luckily, there’s a quick fix.

Go to your FTP client and locate the .htaccess file in your root directory. If you can’t see it, you’d want to enable “force show hidden files”.

Once you’ve located the file, rename its file name into .htaccess_old. Reload your site.

If that fixes the error, go re-save your permalink structure (in Settings > Permalinks) to generate a new .htaccess file.

Increase your PHP memory limitI

SEs (Internal Server Errors) can also be due to insufficient memory in your wp-config.php file. In this case, the easy fix is to increase the PHP memory.

To do this, access your wp-config.php file and add the following line:

define(‘WP_MEMORY_LIMIT’, ’64M’).

This strip of code will tell WordPress to increase your site’s memory limit to 64MB. Other variations of this code are set to 128MB and 256MB if your situation and hosting provider permits.  You should also paste the code just before the line that says “That’s all, stop editing! Happy blogging.”

It’s worth noting that not all web hosts allow its users to increase their sites’ memory limit on their own, in which case you’ll need to ask them to do it for you.

Remotely deactivate all plugins

Sometimes a bad plugin can trigger an Internal Server Error. This happens when plugins are incompatible with your current WordPress version or when plugins are corrupted and vulnerable in the first place.

Don’t panic. You can easily fix this.

What you need to do is to deactivate your plugins and reactivate them one by one until you spot which one causes the error.

ISEs will sometimes lock you out of the wp-admin, in which you’ll have to do this remotely. Go to your FTP client, locate the wp-content folder, and rename your plugin folder into “plugins_old”.

This will deactivate all your plugins and get rid of the error, giving you access to the backend of your site. There, simply reactivate plugins individually and see which one(s) are causing the problem.

Reach out to your hostIf you’ve exhausted all the options above, it’s time to contact your web host and ask them to do it for you from their end. Most web hosts will be happy to do it for you.

2. WordPress Error Establishing a Database Connection

The Problem:

This error occurs when WordPress is having trouble connecting to your site’s MySQL database server. Your database is where all your files live. If WordPress can’t connect to it, your site is most likely going to be down.

The Solution:

Check if wp-config.php checks out

The wp-config.php file contains your login credentials and other essential details about WordPress.

Make sure your username, password, database name, and host server is correct. To do so, hop on over to your root directory and locate the wp-config.php, access it, and make sure this code has your correct credentials in it.

define(‘DB_NAME’, ‘database_name’);
/** MySQL database username */
define(‘DB_USER’, ‘username’);/** MySQL database password */
define(‘DB_PASSWORD’, ‘password’);

/** MySQL hostname */
define(‘DB_HOST’, ‘localhost’);

Doing this resolves the issue in most cases.

Reach out to your host for help

If the error persists, it’s possible that something have gone south with your MySQL servers or you might have reached their maximum size. In either case, it might be time to contact your web host and ask for a quick fix.

3. “Briefly Unavailable For Scheduled Maintenance” Error after a WordPress Update

The Problem:

When you get the “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance” error, it’s not really an error. Technically, it’s a notification page. This usually happens when you update your WordPress to a new version.

Users get this error when WordPress is having a hard time pushing some changes due to slow servers and low memory issue. Sometimes, WordPress will find it hard to get your site out of maintenance mode, hence the issue.

The Solution:

There’s an easy fix to this. Whenever you update your site, WordPress creates a .maintenance file which indicates that your site is in maintenance mode. If you delete this file in your root directory, your site will finally be out of maintenance mode.

Do note that you have to make sure that WordPress has successfully updated your WordPress before doing this. If you delete the .maintenance file and the update didn’t go through, deleting the file might cause you some issues to your site.

4. WordPress Sidebar Showing Below Content

The Problem:

Nothing quakes one’s OCD mind more than seeing all the work you put in your WordPress theme get mangled by having your sidebar shown below your content. It’s ugly, wonky, and doesn’t make a very good impression to your customers.

But why does this happen?

It can mean one of two things: 1.) your theme files are corrupted, or 2.) your HTML is invalid.

The Solution:

To fix this, you need to determine which of the two causes are making your sidebar appear below your content.

If it’s because of your theme, an easy fix is to make sure that your theme is updated to its latest version. You can do this by going to Appearance > Themes.

If that doesn’t resolve the issue, you might want to check the theme’s style.css file, which you can access via Appearance > Editor. You might have set sizing properties to your content and sidebar areas that confuse your site and causes it to place the sidebar below the content.

If it’s because of your HTML, check for some <div> tags. These tags tend to make your site’s layout a complete mess if there’s too many of them are baked into your HTML. You can use an HTML validar to help detect which tags are causing the issue.

5. WordPress’ White Screen of Death

The Problem:

The dreaded White Screen of Death has made hearts dropp in WordPressers’ chest since it first afflicted WordPress sites. WSOD, as users like to call it, makes your site disappear to show only a white screen with nothing in it. Think Windows’ Blue Screen of Death but far scarier.

There are a number of things that can cause this, but with no error message to show, it’s hard to pinpoint.

The Solution:

As such, users have pointed to a number of solutions. We’ve listed the most popular ones below.

Increase your PHP memory limit

Depending on your hosting, your WordPress site will have different memory limits and is therefore vulnerable to different memory issues.

When you run into a WSOD error, your first step should be to increase your site’s memory limit.

Read up on our guide in the “Internal Server Error” section.

Remotely disable all your plugins

Sometimes a small faulty plugin can take your whole site down. To find out which one causes the issue, remotely disable all your plugins via an FTP client and reactivate them one by one to find out which is the culprit.

Read up on our guide on disabling plugins in the “Internal Server Error” section.

Use the default theme

A corrupted or faulty theme can also be the culprit for a WSOD error. If you’ve installed a new theme and got the error, it might just be the one that’s causing the issue.

In this case, you’d want to use the default theme.

If you can’t access your backend, you’ll have to set the theme remotely using your FTP client of choice.

Similar to the process of deactivating plugins, you’ll need to rename your themes folder into “folder_old”. Doing this will automatically set your site with the default theme and put your site back up.

Enable debug mode

If none of the above fixes work, try enabling the debug mode. To do so, find the wp-config.php in your site’s root directory and add this line:

define(‘WP_DEBUG’, false);

In most cases this will resolve the issue.

Reach out to your host for help

If the aforementioned solutions don’t work, seek the help of your web host in fixing the error.

You should be seeing a pattern here. There’s only so much troubleshooting you can do on WordPress. If these errors persist, it’s wise to reach out to your hosting provider for technical support, or better yet, hire a developer if you find yourself on the deep end.

6. WordPress 404 Errors

The Problem:

Another common WordPress issue is posts returning 404 errors.

This error is usually triggered when your .htaccess file is deleted or its rewrite rules have are corrupted. This causes your single post pages to return as 404 errors, with the rest of your site perfectly accessible.

The Solution:

While it definitely sounds serious, the fix for 404 Errors are simple and straightforward.

You only need to go to your permalinks settings (Settings > Permalinks) and hit “Save Changes” to generate a new .htaccess file with the correct rewrite rules.

7. “Upload: Failed to Write File to Disk” Error in WordPress

The Problem:

If you’re seeing the WordPress error “Upload: Failed to write file to disk” when uploading files to your media library, it means your site’s permissions are set incorrectly. This blocks you from writing files on your server, including adding new files.

The Solution:

To fix this error, you’ll need an FTP client. This process will look a little different, but for the sake of example, we’re using FileZilla.

First, connect your site to your FTP. Locate the wp-content folder. Right-click, then select file permissions.

A dialog box called “Change file attributes” should pop up. Change it to the following settings:

  • Owner permissions: Read, Write, Execute
  • Group permissions: Read, Execute
  • Public permissions: Read, Execute
  • Numeric value: 755
  • Recurse into subdirectories: Yes
  • Apply to directories only: Yes
  • Click OK to save your settings

This on its own can resolve the issue. If it doesn’t, repeat the process once again, this time modifying the dialog box with the following settings.

  • Owner permissions: Read, Write, Execute
  • Group permissions: Read, Execute
  • Public permissions: Read, Execute
  • Numeric value: 644
  • Recurse into subdirectories: Yes
  • Apply to files only: Yes
  • Click OK to save your settings

If the problem persists, it might be time to contact your web host and have it fixed for you.

8. Locked Out of WordPress Admin (wp-admin)

The Problem:

Getting locked out of the WordPress admin is more common than you think. It’s easy to lose track of login credentials for hundreds of sites we log into every day. There’s no shame in it—even the best of us forget their WordPress passwords too.

But what if the recovery email doesn’t work for some reason? It sounds pretty alarming, but don’t pull all your hair out just yet. There’s a pretty easy solution for this.

The Solution:

If you’re unable to access the WordPress backend, you will need to reset your password inside the database through PHPMyAdmin. The interface for PHPMyAdmin is usually located in your provider’s control panel.

Once you’re in, find your site’s database and locate the wp_users table.

Find your username in the user_login column and click “Edit” on the left hand side.

On the next screen, find a field called “user_pass”. Change that to your desired password. Under the “Function” column, tick the drop-down menu and set it to MD5. Click “Save Changes” and you’re good to go.

You should be able to login to your site using the new password you’ve created.

9. WordPress Fatal Error: Allowed Memory Size Exhausted

The Problem:

We’ve talked a lot about memory issues earlier in this article. So this error should not make your knees tremble. Even so, to be greeted with such a specific type of error as written below is nerve-wrecking.

Fatal error: Allowed memory size of 33554432 bytes exhausted
(tried to allocate 2348617 bytes) in
/home4/xxx/public_html/wp-includes/plugin.php on line xxx

But don’t panic! This is easily fixable.

The Solution:

Because WordPress relies on memory to efficiently run its functions all at the same time, your server will require allocated memory sizes to different applications including PHP.

By default, WordPress sets your limit sub-64MB. So, using the process we’ve taught in the “Internal Server Error” section above, edit your wp-config.php file and add the following code:

define( ‘WP_MEMORY_LIMIT’, ‘256M’ );

As mentioned before, make sure that the code is pasted just before the line that says “That’s all, stop editing! Happy blogging.”

10. WordPress Error: Connection Timed Out

The Problem:

You’ll typically get a “Connection Timed Out” error when your site takes a very long time to load only to get an error that it’s not available.

This simply means that your server is not handling the weight of your site all that well. This is very common in cheap, shared hosting plans where you share limited resources with other users.

The Solution:

Like in the White Screen Of Death error, there are a couple of main solutions to fix this issue.

Increase your PHP memory limit

The most common fix for this error is increasing your site’s memory limit. By giving it a bigger memory allocation, you’re making it easier for your site to do its heavy-lifting.

Read up on our guide in the “Internal Server Error” section.

Remotely disable all your plugins

Plugins can also cause timed-out connections.

Read up on our guide on disabling plugins in the “Internal Server Error” section.

Use the default theme

Your site may also get timed-out connections because of theme issues.

Read up on our guide on disabling plugins in the “White Screen of Death Error” section.

Error-proofing your WordPress site

WordPress has been a gift to a lot of online entrepreneurs like yourself. Anyone patient enough to tinker around this great CMS can most definitely get the hang of it. But that doesn’t mean it’s perfect, either.

If you’re using WordPress, it’s easier to reconcile with the fact that you’ll encounter errors such as the ones listed above. What’s great with WordPress is that, backed with a thriving user base and a helpful open community, these errors will almost always have a fix available somewhere.

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