14 Common WordPress Issues + Easy Fixes You Can Do

14 Common Wordpress Issues + Easy Fixes You Can Do

WordPress has always been a reliable CMS platform for website-building. So when an unexpected error pops up along the way, we often scurry off trying to fix it.

There are many WordPress errors out there. The good news is: a lot of users have likely reported these issues by now. This means you’ll easily find ways to resolve them.

Just came across a WordPress error? Through this guide, you’ll learn how to fix it before your site — or your clients’ — suffers from significant downtime.

Before you proceed…

Troubleshooting the error puts you at risk of breaking your website even more. So make sure to completely backup your WordPress site beforehand.

No time to fix errors and manually back up your site? Let our WordPress experts do it for you through our Managed WordPress Hosting.

14 Common WordPress Errors and Solutions

1. White Screen of Death

White screen of death

You may have encountered the dreaded White Screen of Death (WSoD) once or twice. It’s a common error that greets you with a blank page after trying to access a certain page.

The WSoD leaves no error messages, so you won’t know what’s causing it.

Most of the time, you’ll get this error for the following causes:

  • Your website has exhausted its memory limit
  • A broken theme or plugin
  • A problem with your hosting server

How do you fix it?

First, increase your memory limit.

Open your wp-config.php file using FTP and add the following code within your PHP tags:

define('WP_MEMORY_LIMIT', '64M');

This should increase your memory limit to 64M.

If the problem persists, a newly-installed theme or plugin may cause the problem.

Try reverting your current theme to the default one. Or, disable your plugins by accessing the WordPress admin area and going to Plugins > Installed Plugins. Select all installed plugins, click Bulk Actions, and select Deactivate.

If this doesn’t fix the issue, go back to your wp-config.php file and add the following code within the PHP tags:

define('WP_DEBUG', true);
define('WP_DEBUG_LOG', true );

Now that your WordPress site is in debug mode, you should see error messages or warnings instead of the blank page. This makes it easier to trace the cause of the error and fix it.

2. Error establishing database connection

Error establishing database connection

This error haunts many WordPress users from time to time. It occurs when your website can’t connect to its database.

There are several usual causes for this issue, including wrong database login credentials or an unresponsive or corrupted database server.

How do you fix it?

If your login credentials are wrong, you’ll have to correct them by editing the following code in your wp-config.php file:

define('DB_NAME', 'database-name');
define('DB_USER', 'database-username');
define('DB_PASSWORD', 'database-password');
define('DB_HOST', 'localhost');

If you’ve made recent changes to your root or database password, make sure they reflect in your wp-config.php file.

If the problem persists after fixing typos and correcting your wp-config.php file, then you’ll have to repair your database.

Go back to your wp-config.php file and add the following code:

define('WP_ALLOW_REPAIR', true);

Once you’re done, open http://www.yoursite.com/wp-admin/maint/repair.php.

Error establishing database connection

Click on either button to repair your database. Once it’s finished, remove the WP_ALLOW_REPAIR code from your wp-config.php file.

If the issue remains unsolved, the problem could be on the server end. Talk to your hosting provider about it.

3. Internal Server Error

An internal server error can happen on any website, not just on WordPress. It occurs when your server itself can’t identify the problem. So you’re often left with nothing to work with.

But some of the most common reported causes of an internal server error include:

  • Corrupted .htaccess file
  • Exhausted memory limit
  • Corrupted theme or plugin functions

How do you fix it?

Let’s start with the error’s most common cause: a corrupted .htaccess file.

Open your .htaccess file and rename it to .htaccess_old. Then, refresh your website.

If this fixes the error, open your admin page and go to Setting > Permalinks. Click Save without changing any settings. This should reset your .htaccess file and ensure that your webpages don’t return a 404 error.

If this doesn’t fix the problem, try increasing the memory limit using the steps you did when fixing the WSoD.

If the error is still unresolved, try deactivating all your plugins. If this fixed the error, then one of your plugins is causing the problem.

You’ll need to reactivate your plugins one by one until you spot the one that caused the problem. Delete the broken plugin to avoid further errors.

4. 404 page not found

404 page not found

We’ve all encountered a 404 error in our lifetime. This error means that the server was not able to find the page you requested.

Broken links and updated URLs usually cause 404 errors. But sometimes, they can still appear even when there’s no problem with your page.

If this is the case, the error is most likely caused by a .htaccess file that’s redirecting your URLs incorrectly.

How do you fix it?

Reset your .htaccess file using the steps we mentioned in Number 3.

As an alternative, create a new .htaccess file yourself.

Use your text editor to create a new file with the following code:

# BEGIN WordPress
<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteRule ^index.php$ - [L]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /index.php [L]
</IfModule>
# END WordPress

Save the file as .htaccess. Then, upload this file to your site’s root folder and check if this fixes the error.

5. 503 Service unavailable

503 Service unavailable

A 503 error happens when the server can’t get the right response from a PHP script. This could be from a theme, plugin, or a broken code snippet.

The error will resolve by itself if it’s due to a server problem, heavy usage, or a DDoS attack.

Otherwise, faulty plugins, themes, and custom codes may be causing the error.

How do you fix it?

WordPress plugins and themes are both composed of PHP scripts. Disabling and reenabling them one by one will help you trace the faulty one.

Since a 503 error won’t let you access the admin page, you’ll need to access your website content through FTP.

  1. Go to your site’s root folder, then to the wp-content folder.
  2. Select the plugins folder and rename it to plugins_old.
  3. Create a new folder and name it plugins.
  4. Visit your WordPress site. If you can access it, this means a faulty plugin caused the issue.
  5. Go back to your FTP client and delete the empty plugins folder.
  6. Rename the plugins_old folder to plugins. This will bring back all your installed plugins, but they’ll remain inactive.
  7. Go to your admin area, then to the Plugins page.
  8. Activate your plugins one by one and visit your website every time. Keep doing so until you find the plugin that caused the 503 error.

If you still can’t access your website from Step 4, try reverting your WordPress theme to the default one.

  1. Go back to your FTP client. Go to your root folder, then wp-content > themes.
  2. Find your current theme, download it for backup, then delete it altogether.
  3. If you already have a default theme installed, it should activate immediately. If not, you may need to manually install one.
  4. Check your website if the error has been resolved.

6. 502 Bad Gateway

502 Bad Gateway

A 502 error occurs when the server receives an invalid response for the page requested. But the most common cause is when the server takes too long to respond to the request.

Both of these cases may be due to:

  • High traffic
  • Poorly-coded plugin or theme
  • Server misconfiguration

How do you fix it?

You’ll need to check if your server is lagging due to high traffic.

Refresh your website, and see if the issue gets resolved. With low server resources, you should look into upgrading your hosting plan to avoid any downtime in the future.

If nothing happens, try clearing your browser cache. Your browser may be loading your website from there, which causes the issue.

If this doesn’t fix the problem, try disabling your plugins or themes, as detailed in Number 5.

7. 504 Gateway timeout

504 Gateway timeout

A 504 error usually happens when a server fails to connect to an upstream server to respond to a request.

How do you fix it?

A 504 error may only be a temporary glitch on your WordPress hosting server. Wait it out for a few minutes before reloading your website.

If it persists, try deactivating any of these proxy servers installed:

  • VPN
  • Website firewall
  • Network proxy

If this doesn’t solve the problem, consider changing your DNS servers. They may be down or unable to connect to your website.

Windows users can do the following steps:

  1. Open your Control Panel and go to Network and Sharing Center > General.
  2. Select Use the following DNS server automatically.
  3. Input 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4 as your DNS server address.
  4. Apply changes.

If you’re using Mac, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Settings > Network.
  2. Click on the Advanced button, then select the DNS tab.
  3. Change your DNS server address to 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4.
  4. Apply changes.

If nothing happens, try tracing your plugins or themes — as detailed in Number 5 — and see if one of them is causing the issue.

8. 403 forbidden

403 forbidden

You’ll likely see a 403 forbidden error on your webpage when your server doesn’t permit you to access a certain page.

Like most website errors, it’s usually caused by poorly-configured security plugins, corrupt .htaccess file, or incorrect server file permissions.

How do you fix it?

One of the main culprits of a 403 error is a poorly-coded security plugin. This happens when the plugin treats one or more IP addresses to be malicious and blocks them.

To fix this, trace the faulty plugin through the steps in Number 5.

If all plugins are working fine, consider resetting your .htaccess file. Follow the steps mentioned in Number 3.

Otherwise, you may need to correct your file permissions.

Open your FTP client and do the following steps:

  1. Go to the folder containing your WordPress site. Right-click on it and select File permissions.
  2. Enter 755 (or 750) in the Numeric value field.
  3. Tick the checkbox beside Recurse into subdirectories, then click Apply to directories only.
  4. Save changes.

You’ve just applied the correct file permissions for directories. For your files, follow these steps:

  1. Repeat Step 1 above.
  2. Enter 644 (or 640) in the Numeric value field.
  3. Tick the checkbox beside Recurse into subdirectories, then click Apply to files only.
  4. Save changes.

9. Connection timed out

Connection timed out

You may have seen this error when you’re trying to open a website to no avail. This means the server is struggling to load the site.

Several reasons may cause this error, including:

  • Heavy themes or plugins
  • Exhausted memory limit
  • Lacking site resources

How do you fix it?

First, deactivate your plugins or themes and trace which of them is wearing down your server.

Consider also increasing your PHP memory limit, as detailed in Number 1.

If nothing works, your site may lack the resources it needs to function properly. This is a proper time for you to upgrade your hosting plan.

10. Scheduled Maintenance Error

WordPress places your website in maintenance mode when you update your theme, plugin, or software.

If the update doesn’t complete, your website is stuck under maintenance. This is where you’ll see the scheduled maintenance error.

The downtime is usually negligible, but any downtime is always bad for your business.

How do you fix it?

Through FTP, go to your site’s root folder and delete the .maintenance file. This will deactivate the maintenance mode and return your website back to normal.

Go back to the interrupted update and try to install it again.

11. Login page refreshing/redirecting issue

Login page refreshing/redirecting issue

Ever tried to login to your admin page only to be redirected back to the same page?

This is a WordPress login refreshing and redirecting issue that many users encounter from time to time. And it’s an error you don’t want to happen to your clients’ websites.

How do you fix it?

WordPress uses cookies to authenticate logins. So clear your cache and cookies to reset the login.

If nothing happens, deactivate your plugins or revert back to the default theme through FTP. A faulty one can be the culprit of the error.

The login redirect issue may also stem from a corrupted .htaccess file. Reset this file with the steps we mentioned in Number 3.

If these don’t solve the issue, you may have to define your site URL.

Through FTP, go to your root folder and open wp-config.php. Add the following code within the PHP tags:

define('WP_HOME','http://yoursite.com');
define('WP_SITEURL','http://yoursite.com');

Note: If your URL does not contain www, make sure not to add it to your code.

12. Too many redirects

Too many redirects

Too many redirects is a common WordPress issue that means the page isn’t redirecting properly.

This problem usually stems from a misconfigured redirection issue — either within a URL structure or an installed plugin with a redirect function.

Users eventually end up in a redirect loop, which occurs when their browser gets stuck between two pages.

How do you fix it?

If you still have access to your admin page, go to Settings and check the WordPress Address (URL) and Site Address (URL) fields. Check if they reflect your website’s correct address and update as necessary.

If you don’t have access to your admin page, you need to access your website through FTP.

Go to your root folder and open wp-config.php. Add the following code within the PHP tags:

define('WP_HOME','http://yoursite.com');
define('WP_SITEURL','http://yoursite.com');

If nothing happens, you might be looking into a faulty plugin issue. Trace it through the steps we outlined in Number 5.

13. Image upload issues

Image upload issues

Have you ever had trouble uploading images on your WordPress site? This occurs when all images in your Media Library appear as broken.

And when the user tries to upload an image, it ends up with an error.

The usual cause points to incorrect file and directory permissions or a misconfiguration on your shared hosting server.

How do you fix it?

You need to apply the correct file permissions through FTP.

To set the file permissions for the uploads directory and its subdirectories, follow these steps:

  1. Go to your root folder and open the wp-content folder.
  2. Right-click on the uploads folder and select File Permissions. The File Permissions dialogue box will appear.
  3. Change the Numeric Value to 744 (or 755).
  4. Tick the checkbox beside Recurse into subdirectories, then click on Apply to directories only.
  5. Save changes.

To set the file permissions for all files inside the uploads directory, do the following:

  1. Perform Steps 1 and 2 above.
  2. Change the Numeric Value to 644 (or 640).
  3. Tick the checkbox beside Recurse into subdirectories, then click on Apply to files only.
  4. Save changes.

14. Maximum execution time

Maximum execution time

Ever seen the following error messages on your screen?

  • Fatal error: Maximum execution time of 30 seconds exceeded
  • This site is experiencing technical difficulties.

This error happens when a PHP script runs beyond the maximum time limit set by your server.

Most hosting providers set a limit to protect your server from resource abuse. The usual limit falls between 30-60 seconds, which is enough time for a good PHP code to run.

But when you’ve installed plugins on your website, you may need to increase this limit.

How do you fix it?

Increase your execution limit by editing your .htaccess file.

Through FTP, go to your site’s root folder and open the said file. Add the following code:

php_value max_execution_time 300

This increases your maximum execution time to 300 seconds (or five minutes).

An alternative is editing your php.ini file. Most hosting platforms don’t provide this code, so you may need to create your own.

In your php.ini file, add the following code:

max_execution_time = 300

Conclusion

Facing issues while using WordPress can be frustrating. But there’s only so much the platform can do to keep your site up and running at all times.

Follow this step-by-step guide and you’ll go back to enjoying a seamless WordPress experience in no time.

But if you want to avoid troubleshooting errors every now and then, consider getting managed WordPress hosting for your business website.