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How to Troubleshoot your WordPress Website?

During my time in the web hosting industry I have found that many WordPress users experience the same issues over and over again and again, from the “white screen of death” (not to be mistaken for error 500), bad plugins to 404 error messages. Being a nice guy and all, I decided to put all that into one place so it will be available to anyone.

Let’s start with something I am sure many of you have experienced and that is a slugish or sometimes even unresponsive website. Does this sound familiar: you have made a few changes, installed a plugin that looks like it can expand the functionality of your project, however after a quick reload you find your self unable to access any of your WordPress back-end or even front pages.

Don’t stress out, the fix for this is very easy:

First thing you can do is to log in your cPanel and navigate to the File Manager

File Manager - cPanel

Once there, go to your website’s folder (public_html for the primary domain) -> wp-content -> plugins and simply rename the folder to plugins_old, this will deactivate all of your plugins.

WordPress plugins folder

Reload the website and voila, your website should be back to normal but missing some of the functionality of the deactivated plugins. You can then rename the plugins_old folder back to plugins and enter your WordPress dashboard. You will see that all of your plugins have deactivated, you can start activating them one by one to find which is the one that was causing your issue.

Another approach is to create a plugins_old folder in the same directory and drag and drop the plugins one by one until you come across the culprit.

plugins_old wp-content foldermove from plugins to plugins_old

Another situation like that can be caused by a theme malfunction. Let’s say you bought a brand new squeaky clean theme and just activated it, but the site suddenly stopped working, you have no access to the dashboard and can’t change the theme from there.

Simply Log into your cPanel again and go to the File Manager. From there go to the root of your website -> wp-content -> themes. There you will see all the themes that you have, to stop the current theme from working just rename its folder and the website will revert to the default theme.

rename theme wp-content

Last but not least, we will see how to troubleshoot the pesky error 500.

Internal Server Error

There are a couple of things that can trigger it and I am going to explain them one by one.

  1. One of the most likely issues is a corrupted .htaccess file. Log into your site root using cPanel -> File Manager and rename your .htaccess file to .htaccessold. Try reloading your site to see if the problem is resolved. If it works, got to your website’s dashboard -> Settings -> Permalinks and reset them. This will generate a brand new .htaccess file.
  2. Try deactivating all your plugins via cPanel or FTP as explained in the beginning of the blog post.
  3. Try deactivating the current theme. Once again look previously in the post.

This is the first part of my WordPress troubleshooting guide, you can expect the next one soon. In the meantime, please tell me what you think in the comments below and share the guide with someone who may benefit from it.

was this blog post useful to you

Vladimir Penev

Vlado is a pumped up techie that always tackles the problems head-first (yes, his head is hard like that). He loves to screw around messed up websites and find the culprit behind the issue. A massive anime and comics fan he uses the Hulk rage to block the passage to client websites and Thor`s Hammer to annihilate possible threats.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Constantine

    Thanks, this has been very useful. I had a plugin that was slowing my website a bit.

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