The 5 Most Common WordPress Issues and How to Fix Them

You probably installed WordPress for its ease of use, but did you ever guess you would run into page errors? Probably not, but that’s okay. Sometimes WordPress has issues with a bad theme or plugin, and it needs a little extra help. Other times you may be tweaking something in WordPress and take a wrong turn. Help is on its way! Here are the 5 most common WordPress issues and how to fix them.

Error Establishing Database Connection

This happens when a change has occurred to the database to make it stop responding to WordPress’ commands. This is most often caused by a change in the database name, username, or password.

Check Database Configuration

If you are getting the same error on all your WordPress installation pages, you’re probably looking at an issue with the database name, username, or password. Double check this information via your web host, then visit the wp-config.php file in a text editor via FTP and make sure the following lines match what you got from your web host:

Sometimes, but rarely, this error may be produced when your web server is getting hit with more traffic than it can handle. The most you can do here is upgrade your plan to support more traffic.

Syntax Errors

Sometimes when you’re working at adding code into WordPress, or have recently installed a new plugin or theme, you will run into an error page that starts off saying “Parse error, syntax error, unexpected end of file…” This just means that there’s an error in the code used to display the page, and it’s a relatively easy fix, especially since it tells you exactly where the error is at. Go to the file producing the error via FTP login, and check this handy guide to pasting code in WordPress which explains PHP syntax to figure out what needs to be changed.

If none of this works, you will need to contact your hosting provider to see if the issue is happening due to some misconfiguration on their side.

White Screen

The WordPress white screen is another issue that may happen to you. This is when you try to pull up a page in WordPress and get a blank white page with no error message instead. This most often happens when the PHP memory limit has been used beyond its limit.

Disable Plugins

If it is still happening to you, the next step is to disable all your WordPress plugins. Log in to your site via FTP and find the /wp-content/ directory. Find the file named plugins.php and rename it to plugins.old. This will disable all your plugins so you can reach the plugin page to try enabling them one at a time to find the rogue plugin.

Disable Theme

This issue may also be caused by a problematic theme being used, so if the above doesn’t work, the next step is to change your theme to the WordPress default. The easiest way to do this is to go into /wp-content/themes/ and delete the theme you are using. WordPress will then fallback on the default theme, twentyeleven.

Increase PHP Memory Limit

To do this, log in to your website via FTP and open the /wp-admin/php.ini file in a text editor (or create one). Then find or create these lines:

Increase the memory_limit line, then save your changes and try your website again.

If none of this works, you will need to contact your hosting provider to see if the issue is occurring on their end somehow.

404 Errors

Sometimes when you visit a post on your site, you’ll get a 404 Error page. This most often happens when there is a problem with WordPress’ permalinks.

Refreshing Permalinks

The first thing you can do is re-save your permalink settings. So go to the administration panel, click on Settings, then click on Permalinks. On this page all you have to do is click on the Save Changes button. After this, try returning to your WordPress posts to see if that fixed the problem.

If this doesn’t work, you will need to contact your hosting provider to see if the issue is happening due to some misconfiguration on their side.

Internal Server Error

One of the most common (and irritating) WordPress issues is the internal server error. This often happens when WordPress encounters an issue but can’t recognize what that issue is. Due to this, it’s up to you to figure out what’s causing the issue.

PHP Memory

This WordPress issue may also happen if you’re draining all of your PHP memory, especially if you were previously working in the administration dashboard when the error occurred. Log in to your website via FTP and locate the /wp-admin/php.ini file or create your own via a text editor. Put this into the file, and change the memory_limit line to a higher number:

Save it, then upload it to your /wp-admin/ directory.

.htaccess

Sometimes the .htaccess file gets altered and may cause this issue. So one thing you can do is log in to your website via FTP and change the name of the .htaccess file to .htaccess.old. Once you’ve done this, try opening up your WordPress website and see if it comes up.

Disable Your Plugins

If none of the above works, you probably have a plugin causing issues. This plugin will need to be uninstalled to fix the issue. This can be done by disabling plugins one at a time until you find the one causing the issue. If you can’t access the plugins page to uninstall it, log in to your site via FTP and find the /wp-content/ directory. Find the file named plugins.php and rename it to plugins.old. This will disable all your plugins so you can reach the plugin page to try enabling them one at a time to find the culprit.

Re-Uploading Core Files

If disabling your plugins fails as well, the last resort you can try is re-uploading the default /wp-admin/ and /wp-includes/ directories from a fresh copy of WordPress.

If none of this works, you will need to contact your hosting provider to see if the issue is happening due to some misconfiguration on their side.

WordPress Issues Resolved

Many of the steps listed here will work to fix many WordPress issues and not just the ones you find listed here. So if you’re experiencing an issue not listed in this article, try these steps anyway before you call your hosting provider. You may find that you can fix the issue yourself just by resetting the theme, deactivating plugins, resetting your .htaccess file, and/or increasing the PHP memory limit.