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WordPress - troubleshooting errors step-by-step guide

WordPress is a beacon of convenience and versatility in web hosting in the digital era, where establishing a robust online presence is more important than ever.

From bloggers to entrepreneurs, many turn to WordPress to create their unique digital space. As a beginner or an average user, you might need help setting up the perfect website.

This guide is here to smooth out those wrinkles and provide a step-by-step roadmap to troubleshooting common WordPress errors.

Importance of WordPress in the Web Hosting World

Imagine a versatile tool that powers a significant fraction of the websites we frequently visit. It provides novices and experts an equal playing ground to carve out their digital identity; that's WordPress for you.

Initially launched as a blogging platform, WordPress has transcended its original purpose, metamorphosing into a comprehensive content management system that supports many websites, including e-commerce, portfolio, and business sites.

Its ease of use and rich repository of themes and plugins have positioned WordPress as a leader in the web hosting sphere.

Its open-source nature invites a community of developers and users alike to continually enhance its features and security, making it a dynamic and up-to-date platform suitable for creating modern, responsive websites.

Common Issues Faced by WordPress Users

As with any popular platform, users might face various challenges while navigating WordPress. These issues range from the infamous 'Error Establishing a Database Connection' to the perplexing 'White Screen of Death.'

Sometimes, a plugin conflict creates chaos, or a theme does not respond as it should. While these errors are common, they are manageable. Armed with the proper guidance, even a person with minimal technical know-how can learn to troubleshoot these issues efficiently.

Understanding and rectifying these errors is almost like learning a new language; it might seem daunting initially, but with step-by-step guidance, it becomes second nature. This article is your dictionary for deciphering and resolving WordPress errors, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable website-building experience.

Understanding WordPress Basics

In the exciting journey of setting up a website, understanding the foundational aspects is pivotal. Before we navigate through the troubleshooting errors, let's get acquainted with WordPress, a tool that has revolutionized the web hosting world with its versatility and user-friendliness.

What is WordPress?


WordPress app is one of the most popular content management systems (CMS) that empowers people and businesses to create and manage websites effortlessly. Initially launched as a turnkey blogging platform, it has grown exponentially to support various website types, including e-commerce, forums, news outlets, and portfolios.

Usage in the Contemporary Web Hosting World

WordPress is a formidable force in today's digital landscape, powering approximately 43% of all websites globally. Its popularity stems from its ease of use, extensive customization options, and a vast community that continually contributes to its improvement and security.

Users ranging from novices to experienced web developers find solace in WordPress's adaptable nature, utilizing it to bring their unique visions to life on the web.

Setting up a WordPress Website

Embarking on your WordPress journey involves a few essential steps to set up your website. Below, we break down these steps to get you started:

Domain Name and Web Hosting

Your website needs a unique address on the internet, known as a domain name, to be accessible to users. This name should resonate with your brand or your intended content.

Once you have settled on a domain name, the next step is to choose a web hosting service. Web hosting services store your website files and make them accessible online.

Various hosting options suit different needs and budgets, including shared and cloud hosting, VPS hosting, and dedicated hosting. Choose a service that aligns well with your requirements.

Installing WordPress

After securing a domain name and web hosting, the next pivotal step is installing WordPress. Many hosting services offer one-click WordPress installations, making the process straightforward even for beginners.

However, if you prefer a manual installation, it involves downloading the WordPress installation files from the official WP website, uploading them to your web hosting account, creating a database, and following the installation prompts to set up WordPress on your domain.

Selecting a WordPress Theme

Once WordPress is installed, the exciting phase of shaping your website's appearance begins. WordPress offers a plethora of themes that dictate your site's layout and design. Depending on your preferences and the required functionalities, you can always choose from free or premium (paid) themes.

When selecting a theme, consider responsiveness, customization options, and compatibility with popular plugins. Remember, your theme is essentially the face of your website, so choose one that aligns well with your brand identity and the user experience you aim to offer.

Common WordPress Errors

As you venture deeper into WordPress, you might occasionally encounter errors that disrupt your website's functionality.

While these errors can seem daunting, especially to beginners, understanding their causes and having a clear troubleshooting guide can alleviate their stress.

It explores some common errors and provides a step-by-step guide to resolving them.

Error Establishing a Database Connection in WordPress


This error typically occurs when WordPress is unable to communicate with the database. The potential causes could be incorrect database credentials in the wp-config.php file, a corrupt database, or issues with the web hosting server.

Step-by-step Troubleshooting Guide

Verify Database Credentials: Ensure the database name, username, and password in the wp-config.php file are correct.

Repair Corrupt Database: Utilize the repair database feature available in WordPress by adding define('WP_ALLOW_REPAIR,' true) to your wp-config.php file and visiting www.yoursite.com/wp-admin/maint/repair.php.

Contact Your Webhosting Provider for assistance: If the issue persists, call your web hosting provider to check for server-related problems.

404 Not Found Error in WordPress


The 404 error is encountered when the server cannot find the requested page. This could happen due to changed or broken permalinks, or the page might have been deleted or moved.

Step-by-step Troubleshooting Guide

Check Permalinks: Go to Settings > Permalinks in your WordPress dashboard and save the settings again to reset the permalinks.

.htaccess File: Ensure that the .htaccess file is not corrupt. You should reset it by generating a new one from the permalink settings.

Internal Server Error in WordPress


Various issues, including corrupt .htaccess files, PHP memory limit issues, or plugin conflicts, cause this generic error.

Step-by-step Troubleshooting Guide

Check .htaccess File: Rename the .htaccess file to identify if it's the cause. If the site works, generate a new .htaccess file by resetting permalinks.

Increase PHP Memory Limit: Increase the PHP memory limit through the wp-config.php file by adding the code define('WP_MEMORY_LIMIT,' '64M');

Deactivate Plugins: Deactivate all plugins to see if a plugin conflict is causing the issue.

White (blank) Screen of Death in WordPress


This error, characterized by a plain white screen, can be caused due to plugin or theme conflicts, PHP memory limit exhaustion, or a malfunctioning script.

Step-by-step Troubleshooting Guide

Increase PHP Memory Limit: Similar to troubleshooting the internal server error, try increasing the PHP memory limit first.

Deactivate Plugins and Themes: Deactivate all plugins and revert to a default theme to check if the issue resolves.

Debug Mode: Enable WordPress to debug mode by adding define('WP_DEBUG,' true) to your wp-config.php file to identify any underlying issues.

Working with WordPress Plugins and Themes

Plugins and themes are crucial for any WordPress website, adding enhanced functionality and aesthetic appeal. However, as you add or update them, you may occasionally face issues that hamper the performance or appearance of your website.

Recognizing and resolving these issues promptly is vital to ensure the seamless operation of your WordPress website. Here, it delves into the nuances of plugins and theme conflicts and provides step-by-step guides to troubleshoot these common issues.

Plugin Conflicts

Plugins enhance the core capabilities of WordPress. However, with thousands of plugins available, not all are developed under the same coding standards. That can lead to conflicts when two or more plugins don't play well together.

Recognizing Plugin Conflicts in WordPress

The website crashes upon plugin activation.

Specific features or functions need to be revised.

Unexpected error messages or visual anomalies on your website.

Step-by-step Guide to Resolving WordPress Plugin Conflicts

Deactivate All Plugins: Start by deactivating all plugins on your website. If the problem subsides, it’s likely a plugin conflict.

Reactivate Plugins One by One: Begin reactivating each plugin one at a time. After each activation, check your site for the problem. When the issue reappears upon a particular plugin’s activation, you’ve found the culprit.

Check for Plugin Updates: Ensure all plugins are updated to their latest versions. Developers often release Plugin updates to address compatibility issues.

Contact Plugin Developer: If you've identified a specific plugin causing the conflict, contact its developer with details of the issue. They might offer a fix or workaround.

WordPress Theme Issues

Your WordPress theme determines your website's design and layout. Themes, like plugins, can also conflict with WordPress core updates or plugins, leading to various issues.

Recognizing Theme Issues

Visual inconsistencies on your website.

The site crashes upon activating a new theme.

Features or functions are not working when a specific theme is active.

Step-by-step Guide to Resolving WordPress Theme Issues

Activate a Default Theme: Switch to a default WordPress theme like "Twenty Twenty-One." If this resolves the problem, your theme might be the source of the conflict.

Check for Theme Updates: Always ensure your theme is updated to the latest version. Theme developers regularly release updates to ensure compatibility with the latest WordPress version.

Test with Plugins: Some themes might conflict with specific plugins. Deactivate and reactivate all plugins individually, checking for the problem each time. That will help identify if a plugin-theme conflict exists.

Seek Theme Support: If you’ve purchased a premium theme, approach the theme’s support team for assistance. They can provide insights or fixes specific to their theme.

WordPress Performance and Speed Issues

In the digital age, where users expect instantaneous results, the speed and performance of your website are paramount. Not only do they influence user experience, but they also affect SEO rankings. Here, we will tackle optimizing site speed and image optimization's role in enhancing website performance.

Site Speed Optimization

Importance of Site Speed

Website access and loading speed is a critical factor in determining the business success of your website. A faster WordPress site provides a better user experience, encouraging visitors to stay longer, increasing conversion goals, and interacting more with your content. Moreover, search engines like Google prioritize faster websites in search rankings, which means optimizing your site speed can also help improve your website’s visibility.

Step-by-step Guide to Optimizing WordPress Site Speed

Choose a Good Hosting Provider: Start with a reliable hosting provider with excellent speed and uptime.

Use a WordPress-friendly Content Delivery Network (CDN): Implementing the right choice of CDN can help distribute the load, saving bandwidth and speeding up access for your visitors.

Leverage Caching: Employ caching to store copies of frequently accessed data, reducing server lag.

Minimize Code: Clean up your site's code by removing unnecessary characters and whitespace.

Optimize Plugins: Keep only necessary plugins and ensure they are updated to prevent slowdowns.

Image Optimization for WordPress

Importance of Image Optimization for WordPress

Images are often the largest files (after videos) on a website, and if not optimized, they can significantly slow down page loading times.

Optimized images mean faster page loads, contributing to a better user experience, end-user satisfaction, and potentially higher search engine rankings.

Step-by-step Guide to Optimizing WordPress Images

Choose the Right Format: Utilize image formats like JPEG, which provide good quality and smaller file sizes than formats like PNG.

Compress Images: Before uploading, compress images to reduce their file size without significantly compromising quality.

Use Responsive Images: Implement responsive images that adjust to different screen sizes and resolutions to save bandwidth.

Leverage Lazy Loading: Employ lazy loading to defer image loading until they are visible to the user.

Specify Image Dimensions: Always specify image dimensions to help browsers allocate the correct amount of space on a page, speeding up the loading process.

Security Concerns for WordPress

The digital landscape is fraught with cyber threats, and your WordPress site is no exception. A secure website not only safeguards your data but also ensures the trust of your visitors. In this section, we’ll discuss the significance of WordPress security and how to address concerns like malware and hacking.

Securing Your WordPress Site

Importance of Security

A breach in your website's security can lead to data theft, loss of user trust, and a potential dip in search engine rankings. Ensuring robust security protocols is vital for protecting your business reputation and maintaining user confidence.

Step-by-step Guide to Securing Your WordPress Site

Regular Updates: Ensure WordPress core, plugins, and themes are updated regularly. Updates often contain security patches.

Strong Passwords: Use complex passwords and change them periodically. Utilize password managers for added security.

Implement SSL: Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encrypts data transfer between the user's browser and your website, enhancing security.

Limit Login Attempts: Employ plugins to limit login attempts, preventing brute-force attacks.

Backup Regularly: Schedule automated backups of your site so you can restore to a previous safe state in case of any security mishap.

Handling WordPress Malware and Hacks

Recognizing Malware and Hacks

Unexpected Website Behavior: It might be compromised if your site displays unexpected ads or redirects.

Suspicious User Accounts: Unauthorized admin accounts appearing in your WordPress dashboard can be a sign.

Search Engine Warnings: Search engines might flag your website as unsafe if they detect malware.

Site Performance Issues: A sudden slowdown in your site’s performance could indicate malicious activity.

Step-by-step Guide to Removing WordPress Malware and Recovering from Hacks

Isolate the Website: If you suspect your site is compromised, take it offline temporarily to prevent further damage or data theft.

Scan for Malware: Use reliable WordPress security plugins to scan for and remove malware.

Restore From Backup: If you have a recent site backup before the hack, restore it. That can be the quickest way to get back online safely.

Update & Strengthen: After recovery, update all elements of your site. Change passwords and bolster security measures to prevent future breaches.

Seek Professional Help: If the situation seems beyond your control, consider hiring a cybersecurity expert or service specializing in WordPress security.


Navigating the intricacies of WordPress can initially seem daunting, especially when encountering errors or security threats.

However, as illustrated in this comprehensive guide, with systematic approaches and step-by-step procedures, you can seamlessly troubleshoot common errors, optimize your site's performance, and safeguard it against potential security threats.

Remember, the cornerstone to maintaining a successful WordPress website is a combination of proactive security measures, timely updates, and understanding the basics of its functioning.

By adhering to the guidelines outlined in this guide, you are well on your way to managing a secure, speedy, and efficient WordPress website.

With this knowledge about WordPress, you are now prepared to tackle any hurdles you might face in your WordPress journey, ensuring a smooth and engaging user experience for your website visitors.

Useful links / Resources

  • Common WordPress Errors (Official)

  • 50 Most Common WordPress Errors and How to Fix Them (WP Beginner)

  • WordPress Essential Security Setup (Web750)

  • What to do if your website based on WordPress gets hacked or infected with malware (Web750)

  • Guide of steps to speed up your WordPress website (Web750)

  • Support Article (in Spanish)

  • Support Article (in Portuguese)

  • Go back to Web750