One frustrating error you may encounter on your website is the WordPress down error. This is because the error screen may not provide any visual feedback as to what is causing the issue. Thus making it difficult to troubleshoot.
This error might be preventing you from accessing your WordPress dashboard or the WordPress site entirely.
If you are here looking to fix the WordPress down error on your website, then you have come to the right place. In this guide, we will show you 10 things to check when WordPress goes down on your website.
- What Causes the Error Message?
- 10 Things to Check When WordPress is Down
- Check your Network Connections
- Confirm if it is Just You
- Confirm Domain Availability
- Check if Web Server is Down
- Review Your Most Recent Changes
- Check for Theme and Plugin Compatibility
- Troubleshoot WordPress Configurations
- Perform a Manual WordPress Update
- Enable Error Logs
- You May Have Been Hacked
- Safety Tips to Protect Your WordPress Site
What Causes WordPress Down Error?
This error can occur in many different ways. The error screen you see can be a reference point to begin troubleshooting the WordPress error.
It may be caused by something as simple as poor network connectivity or as complex as a web server error. Additionally, plugin and theme compatibility issues can lead to your WordPress site going down.
If you do not properly secure your website as well, you run the risk of getting hacked. When this happens, you may see a white screen on your WordPress site, or worse, you lose access to your site completely.
10 Things to Check When WordPress is Down
If your WordPress site is down, you can perform these checks on your website to help you detect the source of the error. Knowledge of which can help you to bring your site back online.
Check your Network Connections
Sometimes poor network connection or an improper internet configuration can lead to a blank or empty WordPress site.
One way to determine if the fault is from your network devices is to attempt to open a different web page. If you still encounter the same error when you try accessing another page, then you may need to restart your network devices.
Confirm if it’s Just You
The issue might only be occurring on your system so it is best to check all user-specific causes before concluding the site is totally down.
You can try accessing the website from a different device or using your smartphone. There are online tools such as Downforeveryoneorjustme.com that let you confirm if the problem is from your device.
Once you open the website, simply enter your domain name in the input box and then click on or just me?
If you receive a response that the site is up, that means the problem is from your device. You can try clearing your browser cache or doing a hot reload using (Ctrl + F5 or cmd + f5).
But if you get a response that the site is currently down, then there are two things you can do.
If you are not the owner of the site, you can inform the owners of the issue through their social media pages. Chances are their web team is already working to resolve it.
However, if this is your WordPress site, then it is likely a server-side error. Read on to discover the possible causes.
Confirm Domain Availability
Every domain name you purchase has an expiry date. And when you do not renew your domain subscription, your WordPress website will go down.
You should be able to access your domain dashboard from the registrar’s website. There you will see a list of all the domain names you have as well as the expiry date for each domain.
You can also use the ICANN Lookup tool. This tool will perform a domain lookup and display information about the domain.
Simply head over to their website and then enter the domain name in the input box. After that, click on the Lookup button.
Under “Domain Information”, you will find the public DNS information about your domain name such as the Nameservers, date of creation, and the expiration date.
If the expiration date is past due, you need to simply renew your domain and your site will be back online.
Check Your Web Server Status
This occurs particularly on sites that use shared hosting services. Because resources are shared across numerous websites, downtimes are bound to occur. That’s especially the case when there is a huge traffic spike on one of the websites on the network.
When this happens, you will need to contact your web host and report the issue to them. As they work on it, all you can do is to wait it out and keep refreshing the web page until it comes up. Alternatively, you may need to upgrade to a better WordPress hosting plan for your website. This is necessary for sites with increasing daily traffic.
Also, if there is a limit on your hosting account bandwidth or the storage is capped, your site may stop working once you exceed the limit. You can quickly fix this by upgrading your hosting package.
Review Most Recent Changes
This is pretty straightforward. If you recall the last changes you made on your website prior to the error occurring, then it is likely what took your website down.
What you can do is to revert your last changes. That can be as simple as deactivating a plugin or theme. If it is a custom code you added, you need to remove the code to see if your WordPress site comes back online.
If you do not have access to the dashboard, you may need to undo changes manually. See the following guides for help.
Meanwhile, if you have a backup of your site, you can simply restore your site to the previous state before it went blank. This is why performing regular backups is essential for WordPress websites.
Theme and Plugin Compatibility
Themes and plugins are the basic building blocks of any WordPress website. Although WordPress provides a variety of options to choose from, you should be wary of the plugins you install.
There is no way to practically test out all possible theme or plugin combinations. For this reason, it will be difficult to tell if the plugin you want to install is compatible with your active theme.
An easy walk around for this is to have a staging environment where you can test theme and plugin updates for compatibility before implementing them on your live website.
If your site crashed just after you installed a particular plugin, then the plugin is most likely the cause of the error.
A quick fix for this is to deactivate the faulty plugin from your WordPress dashboard. For this, go to Plugins >> Installed Plugins and then locate the faulty plugin(s).
Below the plugin name, select Deactivate. You can repeat the process for other faulty plugins.
Once done, visit your site to see if the error has been resolved.
Note: If the error is preventing access to your WordPress dashboard, you may need to deactivate the plugins from your server. Check our detailed guide on how to disable WordPress plugins using FTP.
Troubleshoot WordPress Configurations
Improper configuration of files on your server may result in your website going down. For starters, ensure your database configuration is set up properly.
You can find the settings on the wp-config file. The database name, username, and password should match the one you set in your MySQL database configuration.
In addition, a corrupt htaccess file or improper file permissions may lead to an internal server error on your website.
Resolving this involves making changes to websites’ server resources. For this reason, we recommend you backup your site before proceeding.
Manually Update WordPress
Using an older version of WordPress exposes your site to potential attacks. The attacker may install the malware on some of your WordPress core files. This might prevent access to your WordPress dashboard.
In other cases, some of your core files might have become corrupt for other reasons.
As such, you need to manually update your WordPress core files using an FTP client or through cPanel on your hosting providers’ dashboard.
Manually updating WordPress involves 3 simple steps:
- Download the latest version of WordPress
- Unzip the WordPress files
- Upload to your web server
If you are the manager in your hosting account, you should be able to access your WordPress site files using FTP. From there, you can upload the updated files to your server.
We have a guide detailing how to perform the update. Please refer to this guide to learn how to manually update WordPress.
Enable Error Logs
If your site is still down after following the tips above, you can turn on debug mode on your site to get more information as to what is causing the error.
It could be an internal server error, server timeout, or an error establishing a database connection between your site and the server.
To enable debug mode, you need to modify the wpconfig.php file on your web server. You can do this via cPanel in the File Manager section or using an FTP client.
We will use FTP for this tutorial. Don’t know how FTP works? Feel free to check this guide on how to connect your site to FileZilla.
After connecting your site, navigate to the directory containing your WordPress site files (usually public_html).
Once there, right-click on the wp-config.php file and then select View/Edit. Open the file with a code editor.
Now paste the code snippet below. Ideally, the code should be added before the line that reads
“That’s all, stop editing!”.
define( ‘WP_DEBUG’, true );
Save the file and re-upload the updated file to your web server.
Now visit your website, you should see a list of error logs that occurred when the page was rendered. The fix may vary depending on the error log you see.
We have a detailed guide on common WordPress errors and how to fix them.
You May Have Been Hacked
When you install plugins from unverified sources, or you are not using a security plugin, your site may easily be a target for hackers.
Additionally, if you are using an easy-to-guess username and password for your admin user, it makes it quite easy for hackers to gain access to your website.
This is because they mostly use brute force and DDOS attacks on your site’s login page. These attacks, even when not successful, may overload your web server which may lead to your site going down.
You can use a security plugin such as Wordfence or Sucuri Security to protect your site from such attacks.
If your site has been compromised, there will be visual feedback or a random redirection of your site address to another site. When such happens, you may need to contact your web hosting support for further guidance on how to restore access to you. Alternatively, you can request for our Malware Removal Service, and we’ll get to work on your site.
Safety Tips to Protect Your WordPress Site
Nothing beats taking preventive measures to ensure your WordPress site does not go down. For starters, ensure the theme you are using is from a trusted developer and that they offer support for their product.
In addition, you can use a downtime monitoring tool to stay on top of your game. These tools notify site administrators whenever their site goes down.
It can also give feedback as to what caused the downtime. If you have Jetpack installed, you can turn on their downtime monitoring feature by going to Jetpack >> Settings.
Under the “Security” tab, toggle the switch below the “Downtime monitoring” section.
Another safety tip is to limit the number of plugins you install. Some plugins are multipurpose such as the Jetpack plugin. It provides support for a variety of services.
Rather than install multiple plugins for something basic, you can use one plugin that offers all the features you need. By the way, Jetpack is from Automattic (the founders of WordPress), so you can be sure of top-notch services from a trusted provider.
Lastly, ensure you are using a security and firewall plugin on your website. This limits the chances of your website getting hacked.
However, in the event you still run into the error that takes down your website, we have shown you 10 things to check to help you troubleshoot your website.
If you are still experiencing the WordPress issue after following the steps listed in this article, then you can reach out to our support team so our experts can help you fix it.