Most Common WordPress Errors and How to Fix Them

As you already know, WordPress is one of the most powerful and reliable content management systems (CMS) ever created. However, like all software, it can occasionally experience errors that cause your website to stop working correctly. Below, I will go over some of the most common WordPress errors & how to first troubleshoot them & also fix it yourself.

Most Common WordPress Errors & How to Fix them | AnitaM

IMPORTANT: Before you make any changes to your WordPress installation, it’s always important to back up your WordPress site’s files and databases. This will make it easier to roll back any changes which have unintended consequences. 

There are several ways to back up a website, but the easiest method is to use a plugin like UpdraftPlus. This plugin creates automated backups which can be uploaded to your own computer, a third party server or a cloud service (like Dropbox, Google Cloud, or Microsoft OneDrive).

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Certainly, once you’ve encountered an error the backup won’t help much, therefore, I can’t stress enough how important it is to regularly run backups on your website and NOT only depend on your web host to do so. After years of web design experience, believe me when you least expect it you may need to restore your website from your backup.

You will also need some tools and information to access & fix most WordPress errors, including:

  • Text Editor (An application like Microsoft notepad or OS X TextEdit will do)
  • FTP program and FTP login details (An application like FileZilla, CoreFTP, or Cyberduck)
  • Your WordPress login username and password

Now that you have all your tools and information in place as well as a copy of all your website files & database, let’s get busy with solving the most common WordPress errors.

Locked Out of the WordPress Admin Area

Getting locked out of your own WordPress administration area can be an anxiety-inducing experience. Common causes of this error are:

  • Forgetting your password
  • Being locked out because of too many incorrect login attempts
  • A hacker has managed to change your passwords 

Fortunately, there are a number of potential solutions to this problem.

Solution 1: Use the password recovery system

The most obvious solution is to use the WordPress password recovery function.

  1.  Go to your login screen, which is located at http://example.com/wp-login.php (replace example.com with your actual domain)
  2. Click on the Lost your password link that is below the login form
  3. Enter the email address and username associated with the account
  4. Click Get New Password and it will be sent to you via email.

Solution 2: Reset the password in the database

This solution requires the use of phpMyAdmin, which is a database management tool included in most web hosting management platforms. If unsure, contact your web hosting service provider.

  1. Log into your web host administration section (cPanel, ISPConfig, VetsaCP etc).
  2. Find and open phpMyAdmin (usually in the databases section)
  3. Click on the WordPress database
  4. Click on the wp_users table on the left hand window pane
  5. Under user_login, you will see a list of users. Find your record and click edit
  6. In the user_pass column, clear the value and replace it with your new password. 
  7. In the Function drop-down menu, select MD5 (which is the encryption WordPress uses)
  8. Click Go to save the record. You can then log into WordPress.

Solution 3: Disable your WordPress security plugins

In some cases, you may be locked out of the admin section because a security plugin detected that you performed too many incorrect login attempts. You can temporarily disable the plugin to get into the admin section.

  1. Open your FTP program, enter your server’s FTP details and connect
  2. Navigate to your website’s home folder, then go into wp-content > plugins.
  3. Deactivate your security plugin by renaming its folder or moving its folder to another location
  4. Try to log in again.

WordPress Maintenance Mode Stuck

This is an annoying error that is surprisingly common. It often occurs if a WordPress site is updating a file or plugin and is interrupted before it can finish. It will be stuck in maintenance mode and you won’t be able to access your site. Fortunately, fixing it is easy:

  1. Open your FTP program, enter your server’s FTP details and connect
  2. Navigate to your blog’s home directory
  3. Locate and delete the file .maintenance
  4. Check if your site is working correctly
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500 Internal Server Error

A 500 Internal server error can be quite frustrating to deal with as there are multiple potential causes. Here is how to fix it:

Solution 1: Check for corrupt .htaccess file

  1. Open your FTP program, enter your server’s FTP details and connect
  2. Navigate to your blog’s home directory
  3. Rename your .htaccess file .htaccess_old
  4. Visit your site to see if the error still occurs
  5. If error is fixed, go into administration section, visit Settings > Permalinks and click save. This will generate a new .htaccess file.
  6. If the error is not fixed, revert your change by renaming .htaccess_old to .htaccess

Solution 2: Increase PHP memory limit

Try this solution if the error only occurs in the administration section.

  1. Open your FTP program, enter your server’s FTP details and connect
  2. Navigate to your blog’s home directory then go into the wp-admin folder
  3. Create a new file called php.ini
  4. Paste this code into the file: memory=64MB
  5. Save the file
  6. Check if the admin section works

Solution 3: Deactivate plugins

In order to see if the error is caused by a “faulty” plugin or a recent update of plugins, you should deactivate it.

  1. Open your FTP program, enter your server’s FTP details and connect
  2. Navigate to your blog’s home directory then go into the wp-content folder
  3. Rename the plugins fold plugins_old
  4. Test if your site works. 
  5. If it does, a plugin must be causing the issue. Re-enable the plugins one-by-one until you find the culprit, then remove it.
  6. If the doesn’t, revert your change.

Solution 4: Upload your WordPress installation files again

If nothing else has worked, try re-adding all WordPress files.

  1. Visit WordPress.org and download WordPress
  2. Extract the zip file on your computer
  3. Upload the wp-includes and wp-admin folders to your website’s WordPress directory, overwriting what is already there.
  4. Test if the site works.

Solution 5: Ask for help

One option is to ask your web hosting service provider if they can help you solve the issue.

Or, even better join one of my WordPress SOS Sessions where together we troubleshoot, fix and answer all your WP related questions.

404 Errors

A 404 error occurs when a page is missing. In WordPress, these kinds of errors usually occur when permalinks aren’t working correctly. To fix this issue:

  1. Got to your WordPress website’s administration
  2. Go to the Settings > Permalinks section and click Save Changes.
  3. The app will re-write your .htaccess file, which should hopefully fix the problem.

If the issue is still occurring, you may need to rewrite your .htaccess manually. 

  1. Open your FTP program, enter your server’s FTP details and connect
  2. Navigate to your blog’s home directory, right click on the .htaccess file and select open. Most FTP programs will open the file using your text editor. If not, you will need to download the file before editing.
  3. Paste in the code below and save the file. Upload it again if necessary.
# BEGIN WordPress <ifmodule mod_rewrite.c> RewriteEngine On RewriteBase / RewriteRule ^index\.php$ &#8211; [L] RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d RewriteRule . /index.php [L] </ifmodule> # END WordPress

Connection Timed Out

This common error is a sign of an overburdened server which is often caused by resource-intensive plunge and themes. There are three ways to fix it:

  1. Increase the memory limit of PHP
  2. Deactivate individual plugins until you find the one which is hogging your server’s resources
  3. Switch to the default theme and attempt to identify why your theme is using so many resources.

WordPress Keeps Logging Out Problem

This is another very frustrating issue that sometimes occurs when WordPress is incorrectly configured.  It is caused by a cookie issue which is easy to resolve.

  1. Log into the WordPress administration section
  2. Go to Setting > General
  3. Check that the Site Address (URL) matches the correct address of your website and that it also matches the WordPress Address above it. Both URLs should have a www or non-www address.

If the logging out problem means you are unable to access the administration section, use this fix:

  1. Open your FTP program, enter your server’s FTP details and connect
  2. Navigate to your blog’s home directory and open the wp-config.php file
  3. Add the following lines, replacing “example” with your URL:
    define(‘WP_HOME’,’http://www.example.com‘);
    define(‘WP_SITEURL’,’
    http://www.example.com‘);
    or if you want to use the non-www URL:
    define(‘WP_HOME’,’http://example.com‘);
    define(‘WP_SITEURL’,’http://example.com’);
  4. Save the file

Where to go for more help

If you have another issue which is not mentioned here, you can check out WP beginner resources, which is a great place for all things WordPress. This article is particularly useful for resolving even more of the common WordPress errors. Furthermore, feel free to join the WordPress Bootcamp where you’ll not only learn how to fix the most common WordPress errors but also discover many other tips & tricks related to WordPress.

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