How To Fix a Broken WordPress Site

First things first. Yes I have to say this and if you’re reading this article it may be too late but… ALWAYS CREATE A BACKUP!!! Always, no matter how small you think the update is that you’re doing, create a backup of your entire site before making any changes.

You never know how the various plugins are going to interact with one another and what seems to be a simple update can take your entire site offline. So let’s say that you don’t have a backup, or you want to explore other options before doing a complete site restore. Here’s where to start.

Make note of the updates you just installed. Usually after doing updates to your site you will have a list or summary of the updates that were just completed. Even if you go past this page you can usually use your browsers back button to get to the summary list and see all the updates that you’ve installed. Make note of them.

DON’T PANIC! Easier said than done right? I realize this is difficult but it’s also very important to wait until your initial panic response subsides. That moment you realize your site (or worse your clients site if you’re working on someone else’s site) no longer loads. Fix wp-login page not found

During this initial period your brain is in a panic state and will not think logically about how to resolve the situation so, get up, have a glass of water and let the panic subside.

First check if you can still access your back end WordPress admin area. If this is still accessible you’re in great shape, simply login and disable any plugins you just updated one by one. After you disable each one, try browsing your site again to see if it’s fixed. If not, move on the next one.

If you cannot access your website admin area, there are still options. Your site can also be accessed via FTP. If you haven’t done this before, don’t worry it can be a bit tricky but not too bad at all. First, download an FTP program like FileZilla.

Now hopefully you have your website FTP username and password. Sometimes it’s the same as your WordPress login but that’s rare. If you don’t have it, you’ll have to get this from your web hosting provider or if you have back end access to your site (cPanel or Plesk etc) login that way and change it.

You may have to talk to your web hosting provider or IT company if you don’t have this information.

Alright so once you’ve accessed your site via FTP, you need to browse to your plugins folder. This can generally be found inside a folder called wp-content/plugins. The first or root folder may be called WordPress so look in there for the wp-content folder.

Once you’re in there you should see a folder for each plugin that you have installed on your site. The folder names will closely match the plugin name. If you know which ones you just updated, rename the folders one by one to something like: “pluginname.bad”. In this instance I simply add a.bad at the end of the folder name.

Rename each folder one by one and test your website between each. If it was a plugin that broke your site, you’ll eventually find the culprit! This technique essentially breaks the connection between WordPress and the plugin so it will not load when the site is accessed.

It’s also a possibility there’s a compatibility issue between two plugins in which case you will disable one, things will work again and you’ll think you’ve found the bad plugin but if you enable them individually (one without the other) they both work. This can make things a bit confusing but regardless you’ll be on the right track.

Once you find the bad plugin and rename the folder, you site should be good to go again. You will be missing the functionality of whatever plugin you disabled however your site should still be mostly functional again.

You can now reach out to the developer of the bad plugin and let them know about the incompatibility. Chances are that you’re not the only one that’s had this issue and there may already be an update or a workaround posted on their website.

If your situation was caused by a WordPress theme update or a complete WordPress version update, chances are a plugin is still conflicting and disabling your plugins is always a great place to start. It’s important to stay on top of your WordPress and plugin updates to decrease your chances of these types of problems.

A very old version of WordPress is much more likely to have problems with newer versions of plugins and vise versa.

It’ also a great idea especially if the site you’re working on is a high traffic business critical site, to research any WordPress or plugin updates to see if there are known issues with particular versions prior to installing. A quick Google search should reveal several forums with people complaining about it if there are problems.

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