In customer support, we have thousands of conversations per month in chat and help our customers every day to solve error messages and problems with their WordPress websites. In our article we will 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 are installed and managed with just a few clicks, without you needing any great technical knowledge. With a market share of over 40 percent WordPress has virtually become the operating system of the internet.
With its ease of use, active community and many ways to customize your website, WordPress is perfect for today's web. So it's all the more frustrating when your WordPress suddenly starts having problems. But there's no need to panic! Today I'll show you how to solve four typical WordPress errors quickly, easily and on your own.
Our tips for fixing typical WordPress errors
In order to support you in troubleshooting as best as possible and to share the knowledge from our years of support experience, I will explain the possible causes and the corresponding solutions for four typical WordPress problems today.
WordPress Error #1: White Screen of Death
The "White Screen of Death" (WSOD) is an analogy to the Blue Screen of Death, which is displayed in Windows during a system crash. As the name suggests, with WSOD the website, in the frontend or backend (wp-admin), simply remains white - without any error message or further information.
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 is not usable 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.
Problem analysis: Are your Plugins and Themes incompatible?
The first approach is to undo your recent changes. Think about what changes you have made. Have you perhaps installed a new plugin or changed a theme? Updates of plugins and themes can also lead to these errors.
First, you should determine whether the error occurs on all websites or only on certain ones. For example, is only your contact page affected? If you have just integrated a contact form, it can be concluded that this contact form plugin is responsible for the WSOD.
Does the White Screen of Death occur throughout the frontend on all URLs? Then it can be the theme itself or a plugin that is integrated on the entire website - for example a widget in the footer, a slider in the header or a plugin for the navigation.
If it remains white even when you call up the backend (yourwebsite.com/wp-admin), it is most likely the theme or a misconfiguration of the web server.
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Check your debugging log!
Often a look at the error.log of your server or the debugging log of WordPress itself(WP Debug Mode) helps. You can activate this by editing the wp-config.php of your WordPress installation and inserting /* That's all, stop editing! Happy blogging. */ add the following lines:
If your installation already has a 'WP_DEBUG' entry, but it is set to false, you can simply change this value to true and simply add the following line below it:
If you then go to your problem page again, you will get the corresponding reasons for errors instead of the white site. The errors that start with Fatal Error or Parse Error are usually the ones that cause the White Screen of Death.
WordPress Debug at Raidboxes
If you have your WordPress hosting at Raidboxes, you can easily enable the debugging log with one click in your Box settings. You will get the output of the debugging log under the link mentioned in your settings.
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. We see the following information in the parse error:
So the error occurs:
- In the file /wp-content/plugins /contact-form-7/wp-contact-form-7.php
- on line 12
- Apparently there is an unexpected sign there, in this case a
In case of incompatible plugins & themes the following solutions are available:
Solution 1: If you can, restore from a backup. This will simply restore your WordPress installation to the state it was in before the error occurred.
Solution 2: If you do not have a backup, you have no choice but to rename the folder of the suspicious plugin or theme via S/FTP. This will deactivate it. In our example, it would be the folder of the Contact Form 7 plugin.
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. For Raidboxes you can also simply use the plugin and theme management in Dashboard to deactivate it.
Tip: Often the problem is simply a renamed theme folder, so you should check this via S/FTP for the correct spelling!
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 on which 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:
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 bear in mind that too high a value can cause your site to crash completely. Therefore, you should only increase your PHP memory limit if your plan provides the corresponding RAM. If your plan is low on RAM, you should consider upgrading your plan with your host.
2) Problem: Max Execution Time exceeded
When installing larger WordPress themes or plugins as well as larger imports or exports of data, the following error may occur, which is usually displayed in the backend:
Fatal Error: Maximum Execution Time of XX Exceeded in XXX
This means that the time a PHP script is allowed to run has been exceeded. This often happens when importing many products into WooCommerce or exporting order data.
Solution: Increase the max_execution_time. A note beforehand: Normally, the run time 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.
At Raidboxes you can set the max_execution time for the frontend and the backend separately via the box settings:
With some hosts you can edit the .htaccess via S/FTP and add the line php_value max_execution_time 300 . Here the 300 stands for the maximum seconds a script is allowed to run. In this case 5 minutes.
WordPress Error #2: Problems with SSL
At the latest since the entry into force of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May 2018, an SSL certificate should be a must for you. Not for nothing do most browsers now issue a warning message if a website is not delivered encrypted. It is all the more annoying when SSL errors occur on your WordPress website.
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 actually be a thing of the past. However, there are certain types of certificates that have a validity period. If this has expired, an SSL error may occur.
Solution: The easiest way is to integrate an SSL certificate without a term, which some host as well as Raidboxes deliver free of charge and renew automatically. If this service is not offered by your host, you must manually renew the certificate. To do this, it is best to set up a 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, one specifies for which domains this certificate should be valid. Thus, a possible registration can be http://domain.com. If a forwarding from http://www.domain.com or is set up afterwards, this domain has no SSL and an error is issued.
Solution: The new domain must be added to the SSL certificate and then renewed. As this is a rather time-consuming and complicated process, you should contact your web host for this.
At Raidboxes it is sufficient to switch SSL off and on again in the box settings after adding the additional domains.
Cause 3: Mixed Content Error
When setting up SSL in WordPress, the http:// address in the database must be replaced by https:// by default. At Raidboxes, this happens automatically when SSL is set up. In about 5 to 10 percent of cases, it can still happen that there are resources that are loaded via HTTP. This can be the case, for example, with hardcoded images or CSS/JS files. In Chrome, the URL is then grey instead of green.
Problem analysis and solution:
First, you need to check if you actually have mixed content errors on your website.
- Press F12 on your website (CMD+F12 on MAC) and the developer console will open. At the bottom of the console, fields with "Mixed Content" appear with a yellow background.".
- Now make a backup of your website.
- Install the plugin Better Search Replace. After activation you can find the plugin under "Tools" > "Better Search Replace".
Enter the following in the "Search for" field: http://
and in "Replace with": https://
Then select all tables in the table field and check "Test run" at the bottom.
Now click on "Start Search/Replace" at the bottom of the page
- When the test run has found some tables, you can uncheck "Test run?" and start the real run.
- After the real run is finished, check again on the website if you still have mixed content errors (see step 1).
- If mixed content errors still occur, check the source code to see where resources are still included with "http" instead of "https" and replace them accordingly.
WordPress Error #3: 504 Gateway Time-out
A 504 gateway time-out error can occur quite frequently if you have a large number of plugins that communicate with external services as well. The error message means that a PHP process takes longer than 30 seconds. If you own the website, the error is often directly associated with a problem on the server. However, this is not always the case.
Possible causes and solutions for 504 Gateway Time-out
A 504 gateway time-out error occurs when a server acting as a gateway, i.e. the server that establishes a connection to another, cannot reach this 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 party plugin or theme.
Cause 1: Local problem
Browser settings changed, a proxy activated, your ISP having problems, your local DNS cache out of date and many other possibilities can cause this error.
Solution: Test the URL on the website http://www.isitdownrightnow.com/. If you get the message that the website is online ("yourwebsite.com" is UP and reachable), then there is a local problem. However, if the result of the test is "yourwebsite.com" is DOWN, then this indicates a problem with your DNS, your web server or a WordPress plugin or theme.
Cause 2: DNS problems
The DNS (Domain Name System) is responsible for converting your URL (such as raidboxes.de) into an IP.
In the case of a new registration or a migration of the domain, it may take some time until all computers, DNS servers and providers have recognized the adjustment. This may 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 cleared and you can try again. If the error persists, check what other servers in the world say about it. To do this, go to www.whatsmydns.net and enter the URL in the search line. Please make sure that A is selected in the second 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!
If the DNS record is up-to-date for all servers, you should see a green tick and the same IP everywhere. In most cases, this IP should point to the IP of your server (exception: if a CDN is connected upstream).
If errors are displayed in the form of a red X, this server does not yet have the correct entry. If there are different IPs, the server still has the old entry and has not yet been updated to the new one. In this case, the only thing that helps is to wait.
Cause 3: Server-side problem
Visitor-intensive websites and e-commerce websites such as WooCommerce stores, generate very many requests to the server, which cannot be cached due to their content 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. Alternatively, it often helps to switch to another host, whose server architecture offers better performance. You are welcome to perform a free test move with your WordPress website to Raidboxes. This will not disturb your live website in its operation, because you get a completely separate environment with its own URL, which is not indexed by search engines. In over 80 percent of the 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 traffic can crash your website by generating so many (uncached) hits that your server crashes.
Solution: To filter such attacks, it often helps to use a CDN like Cloudflare, which filters access to your website and blocks spambots and attacks. In very persistent cases, you can exclude (block) the IP addresses of the attackers from accessing your website.
At Raidboxes you can easily do this via your box settings:
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 deactivating it first.
At Raidboxes you can do this via your plugin/theme settings of your BOX - even if you can no longer get into your WordPress backend.
If you do not have access to your WordPress backend at other hosts, you can connect via S/FTP and search for the corresponding theme or plugin in the folder .. /wp-content/themes or ../wp-content/plugins and rename the folder . This will automatically deactivate the corresponding element.
If you are not sure which plugin or theme is causing the problem, first switch to a standard theme like Twenty Twenty-Two.
If this solves the problem, it is most likely due to theme or a connection between theme and plugins. Please contact the manufacturer of the theme. If not, deactivate all plugins and activate them one by one until you have eliminated the corresponding plugin. Then try to reinstall this plugin. If this does not help either, contact the manufacturer of the plugin.
WordPress Error #4: Error Establishing a Database Connection
The Establishing a Database Connection Error is the worst case scenario among WordPress errors. The error message means that your server no longer has access to the database or can no longer reach it.
Almost all the information that your website needs to run correctly is stored in your WordPress database. Not only the content of your pages and posts, but also login information as well as plugin and theme settings are stored in the database.
Only images, pluginfiles and themefiles and WordPress core files are not stored in the database, but in the file system of your website, which you can access via S/FTP, for example.
Possible causes and solutions for Establishing a Database Connection Error
If your site remains white and only the error message "Error Establishing a Database Connection" appears, your site cannot establish a connection to your database or the necessary information is missing or incorrect. In most cases, you can no longer log into the WordPress backend.
Cause 1: Incorrect 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:
Solution: For all system-related errors (and this one is especially important!), you should create a backup of your website beforehand. At Raidboxes you simply create a manual backup in your Box backups. With other hosters you may have to backup the whole website 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 Username (DB_USER)
- MySQL Password (DB_PASSWORD)
- MySQL Hostname (DB_HOST) [This is the server].
- Table Prefix ($table_prefix) [mostly 'wp_']
As a rule, you can find this information in the Dashboard of your host. In most cases, not all of the information is needed. At Raidboxes, for example, you only need the table prefix, as the remaining entries are read out and controlled automatically.
If you have the necessary information, download the wp-config.php from the root directory of your WordPress installation via S/FTP, make a copy of it locally as a backup and edit the original with an editor like Notepad++.
There you'll find the following lines (note: $table_prefix will not be included in all cases):
Compare this information with the information you have just obtained. Save these changes and upload the file to the main 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 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 yourdomain.com/wp-admin. If you see that your database can be repaired, add the following directly before "/* That's all, stop editing! Happy blogging. */", add the following line to the WP Config:
Then go to yourwebsite.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
Under certain circumstances, the SQL server is down and not accessible. It is also possible that a maximum database size has been reached. Or the resources of your web hoster have been used up.
Unfortunately, this often happens with shared hosting. Because there you share a server with many other websites. If a website consumes a lot of resources, this is of course at the expense of your website. That's why we always recommend a high-performance hosting specially adapted to WordPress, so that such overloads do not occur.
Solution: Contact your web host or check their status page (if available) to see if there are any problems with the server at the moment. If necessary, check the CPU load at host and switch to another server if the load is too high. If this does not bring any improvement, you should consider changing to a different host.
Surely you know the feeling of panic when you suddenly sit in front of a white screen or can no longer log into the WordPress backend. The important thing is to keep cool, systematically get to the bottom of the cause and then work through the corresponding steps to solve the problem. I hope that this article will help you to analyse and fix these typical WordPress errors in the future.
What WordPress problem have you had to deal with the most? Feel free to leave me your feedback in the comments.
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