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10 most common WordPress errors and their solutions

As people around the globe use their WordPress building skills for diverse platforms in different environments, running into errors becomes inevitable. Therefore, as you use WordPress, there are a number of common errors that can likely be encountered. 

Thanks to the widespread community using this tool, someone might have already gone through an issue like yours and shared their fix. This blog covers 10 key WordPress errors and their solutions to equip you with the right knowledge for your WordPress journey and refine your website building skills.

Before we dive into the 10 errors, we suggest you back your site up before making changes. This way if something goes wrong you can always go back to a point in time when everything was running smoothly. 

  1. The White Screen of Death

This error is one very frustrating view for a WordPress developer. It replaces your site with a white blank page that has no content or any sort of indication suggesting an error. This could occur for a variety of reasons and suggests that your site could not be loaded properly. 

A database or PHP errors are one of the root causes for this error. Key reasons for this error include:

  • Cause: Plugin compatibility

Solution: Try deactivating all your plugins from the Administration screens and then reactivate them one by one. 

  • Cause: A problematic theme

Solution: Try logging into the administration screen and activating the default theme. Often times the cause is the activation of a new theme or a new site in a WordPress network

  • Cause: Your caching solution

Solution: Clear your cache to see if the error resolves. Since your cache just might be making you see outdated files, trying this option might solve the problem

  • Cause: Running out of site memory

Solution: Raise your site’s maximum memory limit by editing your wp-config.php file. You just might have run out of some. To increase the limit, open up the wp-config.php file and add the following line of code within the main PHP tags.

define(‘WP_MEMORY_LIMIT’, ’64M’);

This will increase the memory limit to 64M

  • Tip: Activate WordPress debug mode. This feature shows you errors on each page and allows you to navigate to the root cause of this solution

Hopefully, these solutions will solve your problem. In case it still doesn’t get resolved, contact your hosting provider’s support team for help.

  1. 500 internal server error | internal server error

Less frequently occuring than the WSoD, this error appears due to an unknown issue with the server. General causes and their fixes for the internal server errors are as follows:

  • Cause: Corrupted .htaccess file.

Solution: Use your FTP and log into the root and access the .htaccess file. If you can’t find the file it might be hidden so select “force show hidden files” from the server tab to see it.

Next, rename the file to .htaccess_old. Reload the site and check if the error resolves. Hopefully this will fix the issue. Don’t forget to go to your settings>permalinks and reset your permalinks. This will automatically generate a new .htaccess file.

  • Cause: An added Plugin or Theme 

Solution: Similar to WSoD, try deactivating all your plugins one by one. If this doesn’t solve the problem, try resorting to a default WordPress theme.

  • Cause: Low PHP memory limit 

Solution: Increase your site’s PHP Memory limit or re-upload the wp-admin and wp-includes folders from a fresh install of WordPress. To increase the limit, open up the wp-config.php file and add the following line of code within the main PHP tags.

define(‘WP_MEMORY_LIMIT’, ’64M’);

This will increase the memory limit to 64MB. You can also set it to 128MB or 256MB as per your requirement.

  1. Error establishing database connection

As per the name, this error means your site can’t access its database. Since the database is where all your site’s content is stored, if you can’t access the database, you can’t have a functional site. 

  • Cause: Problem at your hosting server’s end

Solution: Try contacting your hosting provider for the error. They will be better able to guide you about why your database can’t be connected to. If its is exceeding its quota or creating trouble due to some issue with the server, this, only your hosting provider can tell you. 

  • Cause: Erroneous wp-config.php file

Solution: The wp-config. php file holds all the login details for the database you set during installation. It lies in the root directory of your WordPress installation and can be accessed through FTP or the file manager. View the file to see if all your credentials are lining up. Update any changes you might see in there.

  • Cause: Your website is hacked

Solution: Use a security tool to scan your website and check if your website is compromised. If you find that your site has been hacked, don’t panic. Immediately change your login details and restore your website from the backup.

  1. 404 error 

This error usually means the server was not able to find the page. It is mostly because of broken links and edited URLs. Like many other causes above, this too has the .htaccess file at its root as well. 

  • Cause: Corrupted .htaccess file

Solution: Generate a new .htaccess file as mentioned above and upload it again in the root folder. this should resolve the 404 error.

  1. 504 connection timeout error

Your site taking too long to load and then showing this view at the end? This is the connection timeout error and just depicts that your site is overburdening the server because it is trying to run too many operations on a limited resource environment. Some reason your server maybe overburdened include: 

  • Cause: Heavy plugins

Solution: Deactivate each plugin one by one to check if it is this component of your website causing a timeout.

  • Cause: Erroneous theme

Solution: try switching to a default theme to ensure it is not your theme overloading the server.

  • Cause: Low PHP memory limit

Solution: refer to the Internal server error on how to fix this.

  1. Parse error: syntax error

Mostly occurring due to the addition of new code snippets, reloading the site shows you a line similar to this in the browser..

  • Cause: syntax mistake in the code you wrote

Solution: refer to the lime number the browser is showing you. E.g. in this case it is line 549 and either correct the syntax or delete the newly added code.

  • Tip: Some common syntax mistakes include: 
    • Unexpected ‘=’ : include the $ when referencing a variable
    • Unexpected ‘)’ : include the opening bracket (
    • Unexpected ‘(‘ : include the closing bracket )
    • Unepxpected T_STRING: include a quotation mark or a semi-colon at the end of the previous line
    • Unexpected T_ELSE: include the opening if statement with your else statement 
  1. Common image issues

For anyone new to WordPress, uploading an image can be confusing. Aligning, resizing and cropping is definitely a challenge for a new-bee. To make matters even more complex, sometimes images do not display on the site, appear broken, the entire library is not displayed properly. Here are a few common causes and there solutions:

  • Cause: faulty file and folder permissions

Solution: 

  1. Open up Filezilla and locate the uploads folder inside wp-content. Right click it and choose File permissions.
  2. Set the upload directory and all the folders it contains to permission level 744.
  3. Enter 744 in the bottom field and choose “Recurse into subdirectories” and “Apply to directories only” further below.
  1. Click OK and the FTP client will apply the correct file permissions to your directories.
  2. Repeat the same process for the files but choose permission level 644, check to recurse into subdirectories and enable to “apply to files only” and click OK
  1. Sidebar below content

When your sidebar does not move along your webpage and is instead moving below it, your layout gives a broken image and can definitely cause you to lose your user base.

  • Cause: Excessive div tags <div></div> opened or closed or problematic style.

Solution: you might have too many or too less open or closed tags in the wrong places and use can use an HTML Validator to find them

  • Cause: Problematic style.css file

Solution: Your main content and sidebar have sizes that do not  fit next to each other or they have too much margin or padding. Try fiddling with various sizes and you will find the perfect fit.

  • Cause: Eliminated float property

Solution: Re-enter the float property in the content and sidebar.

  1. Changes not showing

Making changes to your website and not seeing the update in your browser? Oftentimes changes made to a website are not considered significant by the browser. It therefore loads the data from your cache, and you don’t get to see any changes. 

Solution: Empty your browser cache or close the tab and reopen the link.

  1. Stuck in maintenance mode

Oftentimes you might be updating your website and it may not complete and could cancel or timeout. To make matters worse, you can get locked out of the admin area and the update gets.

Solution: open up the root directory through FTP and delete the .maintenance file. This file may be hidden and you might have to force show hidden files inside your FTP client.

Although WordPress is a highly used platform across the globe, things don’t always run smoothly and errors do become inevitable. Hopefully through the information provided above you will be able to build your platform more efficiently and move on your WordPress journey with improved website building skills.