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10 Common WordPress Problems and their Solutions

September 20, 2016 WordPress Help
WordPress has given countless people to start their business and careers online. It is a stable Content Management System(CMS) software that operates without issues most of the time. However, with so many people using the platform in different environments and for different purposes, users will bound to encounter errors. We know how frustrating it is to stumble into an unexpected error and not be able to find a solution for it. Most WordPress problems are solvable; in fact, there are a number of common problems that most users are likely to encounter at least once.    

1. 500 Internal Server Error

The common problem that arises in WordPress websites is the “Internal Server Error” or “500 Internal Server Error” as it is also sometimes called. It basically means that something went wrong but your server was unable to identify the issue.


a. Check .htaccess

This file contains important directives for the server. The permalinks can get corrupted by accident and then cause this error. To check, access your server via FTP and find the file in your root directory. (In your FTP enable “force show hidden file” under Server option to see this hidden file) If you found .htaccess, right click and rename it with .htaccess_old and try reloading your website. If this fixed the issue all you have to do is to log into your site and save the permalink structure to generate a fresh .htaccess file. (Settings > Permalinks)

b. Increase PHP memory Limit

Internal server errors can also be caused by insufficient memory. You will need to increase the limit of the available memory inside  wp-config.php.  Via FTP add the following: define(‘WP_MEMORY_LIMIT’, ‘64M‘) This will increase the memory limit to 65MB however you can also set it to 128MB or 256MB if necessary. Also, not all host allows you to increase your own memory limit, in which case you need to contact and ask them to do it for you.

c. Deactivate all plugins

WordPress errors can also be caused by plugin problems or incompatibility. The best idea is to deactivate all plugins and then reactivate them one by one until you have found the culprit. If you don’t have access to the admin area, you can deactivate all the plugins by renaming the plugin folder inside wp-content via FTP.

d. Re-upload WordPress core files

Core files being corrupted is another cause of server error. Fix this by downloading the latest version of WordPress and replacing the wp-admin and wp-includes folder of your existing installation with the ones you just downloaded.

e. Contact your Host

If none of the above solves the issue, there might be something wrong with the server itself. In that case, if it’s time to talk to your provider so they can fix it on their side    

2. White Screen of Death

It means that when you access your website you see nothing but a blank page. Here’s what to do when facing the dreaded white screen of death.


a. Increase memory limit

The most common cause of this problem are memory issues. Refer to the description above.

b. Deactivate all plugins

The easiest solution is to first isolate your plugin’s directory. Refer to the instructions above.

c. Use default theme

A faulty theme can also be the problem. Test this by using one of the default themes. If you don’t have access to the backend, change it via FTP. Go to your theme folder and rename current theme’s folder, This will make WordPress fall back to the default theme.

d. Enable Debug Mode

If neither of the above help you can put WordPress into debug mode via this line of code in wp-config file: define(WP_DEBUG, false); Change false to true and update the file on your server to start debugging. This will output warnings, errors and notices on the page, which will help you determine the problem.    

3. Connection Timed Out

If your site takes a long time to load and gets an error at the end saying that it is not available, that means your connection has timed out. This simply happens when your site is trying to do more than the server can handle. This is common in shared hosting environment with limited resources.


a. Deactivate all plugins

b. Switch to a default theme

c. Increase PHP memory limit

(Please refer to the description above on how to fix them) If neither of these solutions fix the problem, contact your hosting provider.    

4. Error Establishing a Database Connection

This error means that WordPress is experiencing a problem when trying to access your database. Most of the time, database connection error occurs due to a problem that can only be solved by your hosting provider; especially if you are on shared hosting. Most of shared hosting providers keep limits on databases, so if your database exceeds the allowed quota, you can receive a connection error. Also, database connection errors also occur if your web server is down. Lastly, sometimes a hacked website can result to database connection issues.


a. Check wp-config file

You will find the login info for the database that you entered at installation such as database name, username, password and server. If you have made any changes to the database information update all the credentials in this file.

b. Access wp-admin

Things might go wrong with the database which can also cause the need for WordPress to fix it. In such cases, access,  you will be seeing a different kind of error stating that your database needs to be repaired. Add this line to wp-config  file to enable the feature: define (‘WP_ALLOW_REPAIR’, true); Then, access to start the process. When done, remove the line from wp-config file since other people can access this function.

c. Talk to your host

As mentioned, the problem could also lie on your provider’s side. If neither of the given solutions worked, there might be a problem with the MySQL server; hence, it reached the maximum size of your database. In any cases your provider could help you solve this problem.


5. Maintenance Mode Stuck

When updating your website, a screen will be shown to any visitor trying to access your site to let them know that you will be back soon. Sometimes, when there is a problem with the update or gets canceled or timed out, the maintenance mode doesn’t go away and you will be locked out of the Admin area.


a. Remove .maintenance file

Access your root directory via FTP and delete the .maintenance  file. This is a temporary file that is created during the update specifically to display a warning to your visitors or users. You might have to force show the file since it is usually hidden.

b. Manually update WordPress

If your update script timed out and might not finish the update properly that it disabled your site you have to update your WordPress manually.    

6. WordPress Parse or Syntax Error

This WordPress problem most often occurs when you add a code snippet in your function.php file. When reloading your website you will see the error above.


Never paste code snippets in your live site

Code snippets need to be tested first in a development environment. However since you are here for a solution because you already have this problem with your website, you need to check your function.php  file and correct whatever is wrong with your syntax. This is not hard since the browser is already showing you what file and which line it have issues. Either you correct the syntax, remove it or disable the code in question. Save the file and go back to your site. It should be showing your website!


7. Fatal Error: Allowed memory size of 3354432 bytes exhausted

Getting this problem when you try to upload an image with medium file size?


a. Increase memory allocation

(Please refer to no.2 White Screen of death above)

b. Edit php.ini  file

Update your memory_limit by modifying the below line: Memory_limit = 64M ; Maximum amount of memory a script may consume (64MB) If you have 64MB in default, try changing it to 128M.

c. Edit .htaccess  file

Add script: Php_value memory_limit 64M

d. Edit wp-config.php file

Add script: Increasing memory allocated to PHP define(‘WP_MEMORY_LIMIT’, ‘64M’)

e. Create php.ini file in wp-admin folder

  1. Open Notepad.
  2. Inset the code into your Notepad:
          memory_limit = 64M ;
  1. Save as php.ini.
  2. Upload in wp-admin folder

8. Fatal Error Undefined function is_network_admin()

This error often shows when you log in to your admin page after updating WordPress.


This is caused by a failed WordPress version upgrade. Try to manually update your WordPress. Don’t forget to clear your cache and cookies after the update.

9. Locked out of the WordPress Admin Area

Sometimes we forget the password or login name of our WordPress website and the recovery email does not work.


In case you can’t access your backend anymore, try resetting your password inside the database via PhpMyAdmin.
      1. Access your database that is connected to your website.
      2. 2. Find wp_users table (Note that “wp” prefix  is different to what you choose in the installation )
      3. Find username under user_login column and edit it.
      4. The next screen should show you a field called user_pass with weird characters.
      5. Delete the characters and write your new password.
      6. Use the drop-down menu in the function column and set it to MD5. (This will encrypt the new password)
      7. You should be able to login to your website.

10. WordPress Admin Dashboard not Displaying Properly

This problem shows you that your website doesn’t have any CSS on it and the links are not arranged properly.


a. Proxy and Firewall

 Check if your internet connection is behind a proxy connection or firewall. Some tools are blocking CSS files making it to not load properly.

b. Upgrade/Deactivate WordPress plugins

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