How to Fix the 4 Most Common WordPress Errors

Matthias Held Last updated 07.10.2020
14 Min.
WordPress Error
Last updated 07.10.2020

Our support team has thousands of chats every month and helps customers resolve errors and problems with their WordPress websites day in, day out. In this article, we'll show you step by step how to fix four of the most common WordPress errors.

No other Content Management System (CMS) is as easy to use as WordPress: themes and plugins can be installed and managed with just a few clicks without you needing extensive technical skills. With a market share of over 30 percent WordPress has virtually become the operating system of the Internet.

Thanks to easy handling, an active community and unending possibilities to customize your site, WordPress is perfect for today's web. This makes it all the more frustrating when your WordPress has issues. But there's no need to panic! Today I'm going to show four common WordPress errors and how to solve them - quickly, simply and by yourself.

Our tips for fixing common WordPress errors

In order to provide you with the best possible support for troubleshooting and to share the knowledge gained from our years of support experience, I'll also explain the possible causes for the errors in addition to the fixes.

WordPress Error #1: White Screen of Death

WordPress Error: White Screen of Death

The "White Screen of Death" (WSOD) is comparable to the Blue Screen of Death you get in Windows after a system crash. With a WSOD, as the name already suggests, instead of seeing your website frontend or backend (wp-admin), you're confronted with just a white screen - without any type of error message or further details.

Possible Causes and Solutions for White Screen of Death

Cause 1: Incompatible plugins or themes

The error is very often caused by an erroneous combination of plugins or themes, for example:

  • a plugin is not compatible with another plugin or the active theme.
  • a plugin/theme was uploaded twice via S/FTP in different versions.
  • a plugin/theme cannot be used with the set PHP version.

WordPress lapses into a state of shock due to one of these errors and provokes the White Screen of Death.

How to Fix the 4 Most Common WordPress Errors
Problem analysis: Are your Plugins and Themes incompatible?

The first approach is to undo his recent changes. Think about what changes you have made. Did you perhaps install a new Plugin or change a Theme ? Updates to Plugins and Themes can also lead to this misbehavior.

Now you should determine whether the error occurs on all or only on certain pages. For example, is only your contact page affected? If you've just integrated a contact form on that page, then it's likely the contact form plugin is responsible for the WSOD.

Does the White Screen of Death appear on all URLs in the whole frontend? Then it could be a plugin integrated into all of them - for example a widget in the footer, a slider in the header or a plugin for the navigation.

If the screen stays white even when opening the backend (yoursite.com/wp-admin), the error is likely being caused by the theme or an incorrect web server configuration.

Check your debugging log!

Often a look into the error.log of your server or the debugging log of WordPress itself (WP-DEBUG) helps. You can activate this by editing the wp-config.php of your WP-installation and put /* That's all, stop editing ! Happy blogging. */ add the following lines lines:

define('WP_DEBUG',true);

define('WP_DEBUG_DISPLAY',true);

If your installation already has a 'WP_DEBUG' entry, but it is set to false you can simply set this value to true and just add the following line below it:

define('WP_DEBUG_DISPLAY',true);

Then, when you return to your problem page, you'll see the corresponding reasons for errors instead of the white screen. Errors that start with Fatal or Parse Error are usually those that cause the WSOD.

By the way: At RAIDBOXES you can enable the debugging log with a simple click in your BOX settings. You will get the output of the debug log under the link mentioned in your settings.

WP Debug_RAIDBOXES

Now you can see exactly which file generates an error at which point and why it occurs. I have an example for you to illustrate this. Where is the following information in the parse error:

Debugging Log

So the error occurs:

  • In the file /wp-content/plugins /contact-form-7/wp-contact-form-7.php
  • on line 12
  • It appears there's an unexpected character, in this case a “<”
In case of incompatible Plugins & Themes the following solutions are available:

Solution 1: If you can, restore a backup. This will simply restore your WordPress installation to the state before the error occurred.

Solution 2If you do not have a backup, you have no choice but to rename the folder of the suspicious Plugins or Themes via S/FTP. This will disable it. In our example, it would be the folder of the Plugins "Contact Form 7".

If you are not sure which Plugin is causing the error, try the following: Rename all Plugin/Theme folders one by one. If the error disappears after renaming a folder, you have identified the culprit. identified. As a RAIDBOXES customer, you can also simply use the Plugin and Theme management in the RB dashboard to deactivate.

Tip: The problem is often just a renamed theme folder so you should check the correct spelling via S/FTP!

How to Fix the 4 Most Common WordPress Errors

Cause 2: Server error

1) Problem: Too little PHP memory limit

The typical error message in the error.log for this is:
"Fatal error: Allowed memory size of XXXX bytes exhausted (tried to allocate XXXX bytes) in..."

Furthermore, there may be a white site with the error message Internal Server Error appears.

What happens here is this:
A PHP task consumes more memory than the value set by host allows.

Solution: In this case, it is usually sufficient to add the following line to wp-config.php:

define('WP_MEMORY_LIMIT','256M')

The '256M' stands for the amount of RAM to be used in MB. For example, '512M' for 512MB would also be possible.

However, you should keep in mind that too high a value can cause your site system to crash completely. Therefore, you should only set your PHP memory limit if you have the appropriate amount of memory available on your plan. If your plan doesn't include enough RAM, you should consider upgrading your plan with your host.

2) Problem: Max Execution Time exceeded

When installing larger WordPress themes or plugins or making large imports or exports of data, the following error may occur, which is usually displayed in the WordPress backend:

Fatal Error: Maximum Execution Time of XX Exceeded in XXX

This means: The time a PHP script is allowed to run has been exceeded. This often happens when importing a large number of products into WooCommerce at once or exporting order data.

Solution: Increase the max_execution_time. A note beforehand: Normally, the runtime specified by host is sufficient. To avoid unnecessarily long loading times and problems, the max execution time should only be increased in individual cases (e.g. for a large file upload) and then decreased again.

With RAIDBOXES, you can set the max_execution time for the frontend and backend separately in the BOX settings:

Max execution time

With other hosts it is often sufficient to edit the .htaccess via S/FTP and add the line php_value max_execution_time 300 there. Here the 300 stands for the maximum seconds a script may run. In this case 5 minutes.

WordPress Error #2: Problems with SSL

WordPress error_SSL

At the latest since the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR ) came into force in May 2018, an SSL certificate should be a must for you. Not for nothing do most browsers now give a warning message if a website not is delivered encrypted. It is all the more annoying when SSL errors occur at your WordPress site to SSL errors occurs.

Possible causes and solutions for SSL problems

Cause 1: Certificate is expired

At the latest with the free certificates from Let's Encrypt this error should be a thing of the past. However, there are certain certificate types that have a runtime. If this has expired, an SSL error may occur.

SolutionThe easiest way is to integrate an SSL certificate without a runtime, which some host as well as RAIDBOXES free of charge and renew it automatically. If this service is not offered by your host , you must manually take care of a renewal of the certificate. To do this, it is best to set up a deadline reminder and contact the provider of your certificate in good time to renew it.

Cause 2: Domain not yet registered on certificate

When an SSL certificate is issued, you specify the domains to which this certificate should apply. A possible entry could be http://domain.com. If a redirection from http://www.domain.com is set up afterwards, this domain does not have SSL and an error is displayed.

SolutionThe new domain must be added to the SSL certificate and then renewed. Since this is a rather time-consuming and complicated process, you should contact your hosting provider for this.

With RAIDBOXES, you simply need to turn SSL off and on again after adding the additional domains in the BOX settings.

Cause 3: Mixed Content Error

When you set up SSL in WordPress, the http:// address in the database must be replaced by https:// by default. At RAIDBOXES, this is done automatically when SSL is set up. In about 5-10 percent of cases, some resources may still load via HTTP. This can be the case with hardcoded images or CSS/JS files, for example. In Chrome, the URL is then grey and not green.

HTTPS address bar browser

Problem analysis and solution:

First you have to check if you actually have mixed content errors on your site.

  1. Press F12 on your website (on MAC CMD+F12) and the developer console will open. Fields with "Mixed Content" appear at the bottom of the "Console" with a yellow background:
    Mixed Content Error
  2. Now make a backup of your site. With RAIDBOXES, you just save it in your BOX backups on the dashboard.
  3. Install the plugin Better Search Replace. After activation you will find the plugin under "Tools" -> "Better Search Replace".
    In the "Search for" field, enter: http://
    and in "Replace with": https://
    Then you select all tables in the table field and activate the tick box at the bottom under "Test run?".
    Better Search Replace

    Now click on "Start search/replace" at the very bottom.
  4. When the test run has found some tables, you can uncheck the "Test run?" box and start the real run.
  5. After the real run is finished, check the site again to see if you still have mixed content errors (see step 1).
  6. If mixed content errors still occur, check the source code to see where the resources are still loading from "http" instead of "https" and replace them accordingly.

WordPress Error #3: 504 Gateway Timeout

WordPress Error_Gateway Timeout

A 504 Gateway Timeout Error often occurs when you have a number of plugins that may also be communicating with external services. The error message means that a PHP process is taking longer than 30 seconds.

Website owners often assume the error is due to a server problem. However, this is not always the case.

Possible causes and solutions for 504 Gateway Timeout Errors

A 504 Gateway Time-Out error occurs when a server acting as a gateway, i.e. the server that connects to another server, cannot reach that other server within a specified time.

This error can be caused by a variety of elements involved. It can be your local network, your browser, your ISP (Internet Service Provider), your web server or even a third partyPlugin or Theme.

Cause 1: Local problem

This error can also be caused by a change in browser settings, a proxy being activated, problems at your ISP, outdated local DNS cache and many others.

Solution: Test the URL on the website http://www.isitdownrightnow.com/. If you get a message that the website is online ("YourUrl.com" is UP and reachable), there is a local problem.

Server Status Check_Up

But if the result of the test is "YourUrl.com" is DOWN, then this indicates a problem with your DNS, your web server or a WordPress plugin or theme.

Server Status Check_Down

Cause 2: DNS problems

The DNS (Domain Name System) is responsible for converting your URL (such as raidboxes.io) into an IP (e.g. 94.130.145.82).

With a new registration or a domain migration, it can take some time until all computers, DNS servers and providers have recognized the adjustment. Under certain circumstances this can take up to 24 hours.

Solution: First, you should check for a local problem. To do this, clear your DNS cache:

To clear your DNS cache on your device, first open your command line as follows.

  • Windows: Press [Win-Key + R], there cmd and press Enter
  • Mac: Launch Terminal from the Dock at Applications > Utilities > Terminal

Then you enter the following:

  • Windows: ipconfig /flushdns
  • Mac: dscacheutil -flushcache

After that, your local DNS cache is empty and you can try again.

If the error persists, see what other servers around the world have to say about it. To do this go to www.whatsmydns.net and enter the URL in the search line (Note: Please make sure that "A" is selected in the second selection field so that only the A-record is checked. This is responsible for the correct resolution of the domain name to the IP address. Then start the scan!

DNS Check

If the DNS record is up to date on all servers, you should see a green tick everywhere and the same IP. This IP should in most cases point to the IP of your server (exception: with an upstream CDN).

If errors are displayed in the form of a red "X", this server doesn't yet have the correct entry. If there are different IPs, the server still has the old entry and hasn't yet updated to the new one. The only thing to do in this case is simply wait.

Cause 3: Server problem (e.g. performance or host)

Visitor-intensive websites and e-commercesites like shops running WooCommerce generate a lot of requests to the server, which, due to their content, cannot be cached... and thus lead to a high server load - up to the collapse of the server.

solution: If the performance of your hosting package is not sufficient for your website, you may have to upgrade it. Alternatively, it often helps to switch to another host whose server architecture offers better performance. You are welcome to use your WordPress site free of charge a Test move to RAIDBOXES free of charge. This will not interfere with the operation of your livesite , because you get a completely separate environment with its own URL, which is not indexed by search engines. In over 80 percent of cases, there is a significant increase in performance and a reduction of 504 errors to 0.

Cause 4: Traffic spam, DDOS attacks, bot attacks

DDOS attacks and spam attacks can bring your site down as they generate so many (uncached) calls that your server crashes.

Solution: To filter such attacks, it often helps to use a CDN like. Cloudflarewhich filters access to your website and blocks spam bots and attacks. In very persistent cases, you can exclude (block) the IP addresses of the attackers from accessing your website.

With RAIDBOXES you can do this easily via your BOX settings:

IP blocking_RAIDBOXES

Cause 5: Problems with plugins and themes

In some cases, very long requests from Plugins or Themes can lead to 504 gateway time-out errors. If you have just updated Theme or Plugin , try to disable this first.

For RAIDBOXES you can do this via your Plugin/Theme settings of your BOX - even if you can't get into your WordPress backend anymore.

RAIDBOXES_Plugin and Theme management

If you don't have access to your WordPress backend on other hosts, you can connect via S/FTP and open the folder .. /wp-content/themes or .. /wp-content/plugins search for the corresponding Theme/Plugin and rename the folder. This will automatically disable the corresponding item.

If you are not sure which Plugin or Theme is causing the problem, first switch to a standardTheme like twentyseventeen.

If this solves the problem, it's most likely due to the theme or a plugin and theme connection. In that case, get in contact with the theme developers. If the problem isn't solved, disable all plugins and activate them again one by one until you've identified the "problem plugin".

Try reinstalling the plugin. If that doesn't help either, contact the plugin developers.

WordPress Error #4: Error Establishing a Database Connection

Error Establishing a Database Connection

The "Establishing a Database Connection" error is the mother of all WordPress errors. The error message means your server no longer has access to the database or can no longer reach it.

Your WordPress database stores almost all the information that your site needs to run correctly. Not only the content of your pages and posts are stored in the database, but also your users' login information and your plugin and theme settings.

Only images, plugin and theme files and WordPress core files are not stored in the database. These are stored in the file system of your website, which you can reach e.g. via S/FTP.

Possible causes and solutions for Error Establishing a Database Connection

If your site remains white and only the error message "Error Establishing a Database Connection" appears, your site cannot connect to your database or the necessary information is missing or incorrect. You'll likely not be able to log in to the WordPress backend.

Cause 1: Wrong data in the WP-Config

Most of the time, it's simply wrong information about the database connection causing the error. This error often occurs after you've migrated to a new server or hoster and is quite easy to fix:

SolutionFor all system-related errors (and this one is especially important!), you should create a backup of your site beforehand. Customers at RAIDBOXES simply create a manual backup in their BOX backups. With other hosters you may have to backup the whole site or at least the files you change locally.

Now you retrieve the information needed to connect to the database. This is:

  • Database name (DB_NAME)
  • MySQL user name (DB_USER)
  • MySQL user password (DB_PASSWORD)
  • MySQL Hostname (DB_HOST) [This is the server].
  • Table prefix ($table_prefix) [mostly 'wp_']

Usually you can find this information in the dashboard of your hoster. Mostly not all information is needed. At RAIDBOXES , for example, you only need the table prefix, as the remaining entries are automatically read and controlled.

If you have the necessary information, download via S/FTP the "wp-config.php" from the main directory of your WordPress installation, make a local copy of it as a backup and edit the original e.g. with Notepad++.

There you'll find the following lines (note: $table_prefix will not be included in all cases):

WP-Config

Make sure this is correct by comparing this information with the information you've just obtained.

Save these changes and reload the file into the root directory of your server (overwrite the original file, you have a local backup).

If the information is now correct, you should be able to use your website normally once again.

Cause 2: Incorrect database

There may have been an error in your database.

Solution: WordPress may be able to repair the database automatically. To do this, go to DEINEURL.de/wp-admin. If you see here that your database can be repaired, add directly before "/* That's all, stop editing! Happy blogging. */" add the following line to your WP-Config:

define('WP_ALLOW_REPAIR',true);

Then go to YOURURL.COM/wp-admin/maint/repair.php.

If this resolves the error, don't forget to remove the code from wp-config.php.

Cause 3: Problems with your host

In some cases, the SQL server may be down and not available. The maximum database size may potentially have been reached. Or the resources of your hosting provider are exhausted.

Unfortunately, this often happens with shared hosting. Because there you share a server with many other websites. If a site consumes a lot of resources, this is of course at the expense of your site . For this reason we always recommend to use a high-performance hosting especially adapted to WordPress . High-Performance-Hostingso that it does not come to such overloads.

SolutionContact your hosting provider or check their statussite (if available) to see if there are any problems with the server at the moment. If necessary, ask the provider to show you the CPU load and switch to another server if the load is too high. If this does not bring any improvement, you should consider switching to another host .

Final thoughts

Every WordPress user will recognize that sense of panic when, all of a sudden, you're sitting in front of a white screen or can't login to the WordPress backend. In these moments, it's essential to keep a cool head, root out the cause systematically and then work through the appropriate steps to solve the problem. I hope this article will help you in the future to analyze and fix these typical WordPress errors.

What WordPress errors have you had to deal with most frequently? Leave some feedback in the comments section below.

Matthias is the Chaos Calmer at RAIDBOXES. As a plugin and theme developer, WordCamp speaker and active hosting community contributor, he can regularly be found at WordCamps and other WordPress events and is partial to a snack while snacking. If he's not there, he's somewhere with a lap full of cats.

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