How to troubleshoot issues on your WordPress site?

How to troubleshoot issues on your WordPress site?

WordPress is a great platform when it comes to designing and creating web pages. It’s easy and straightforward to use and comes with many great options for web-builders to create websites just the way they like. 

However, if you are new to WP or even have an experience, it may seem impossible to find out why something is not working as you were expecting or why your website just crashed. It would be nice if we could wave a magic wand and have everything ‘fixed’ in no time.

But the reality demands a bit more of an effort to diagnose and fix issues. It would be impossible to describe how to troubleshoot every possible problem. Still, we have managed to devise a troubleshooting methodology while working for years with our WP technical support clients.

Our methodology has helped to solve the majority of crashed sites and fix errors like 502 Bad-gateway error. We are not claiming that we invented this method. Still, we have brought together several useful tips from the WordPress community and combined them to create a correct and repeatable way to isolate and troubleshoot WordPress issues.

The Process

Our methodology isolates the different layers of a WP theme one by one, tests a layer by removing its parts, and then, if the problem still exists, moves to examine the next layer until all are checked for a bug.

Once you manage to isolate the problematic component from the layer, you can remove it from your site and troubleshoot the problem itself.

We strongly recommend doing this process in an ordered and slow manner, incrementally testing each layer as you go down. Look at the layers, disable all the components, and slowly restart them to find out where the issue lies.

Bet Hard Casinos had been encountering site crashes recently. With the layering concept and simple fixes, they were good to go.

The Layers

We like to divide WP into four layers:

Plugins

WordPress Core.

Theme

Database.

In this blog, we will discuss the first three layers.

What Can this Process Fix?

Once you have learned this methodology, you can fix problems including:

  1. The dreadful white screen of death, where you can not see anything except a white screen.
  2. “Out of memory” errors.
  3. “Headers already sent” errors.
  4. “Fatal Plugin” issues.
  5. …many other WP issues, too.

Don’t Forget to Backup First.

Even if you find yourself in a situation where your site has crashed, and you can not do anything about it, it’s essential to stop, take a moment, and try to backup your site as it is now. 

You must keep in mind that you will embark on a journey that will make a lot of changes to your site. Backing up the data on your website as it stands means you can fall back to your starting position if you need to, without worsening the situation any further.

If you happen to use the WordPress backup plugin already, make sure you have a recent backup safely stored. If you are not using a backup plugin, start using one now. However, if you cannot access your WordPress site’s admin area, you will have to manually back up your databases and files.

With the help of backups, you can restore your WordPress site quickly when something goes wrong. Backups are your first and most important defense against hacking, security threats, and data loss.

Clear Browser Cache.

Your browser fails to realize that a WordPress page or a post has changed and will try to load it from the browser cache. This will cause you to view an older version of a page or post.

You may need to clear your browser cache to ensure that what you see on the screen is the latest version of the page or post. We have a detailed guide that will show you how to clear your browser cache in all major browsers.

Troubleshooting Plugins

One should start the troubleshooting process by going through the plugin layer. In our experience, about 80-90% of the site crashes are caused by faulty plugins. 

This is because there are many plugins ( sometimes of questionable coding quality) available to WordPress site owners. Combining these plugins with the other plugins, themes, and WordPress itself can result in an untested mix that can easily crash your website.

This is how you can troubleshoot plugins:

  1. Disable all the plugins.
  2. Check if the problem is still there. If it’s not, you have issues in your plugin layer, and if it’s still there, move on to the next layer.
  3. Start re-activating plugins one at a time.
  4. Test your website after every re-activation. Has the problem solved? If so, you have found the suspect plugin; jump to point 5. If not, repeat from point 3.
  5. Disable the suspected plugin.
  6. Re-activate the other plugin to make sure you don’t have multiple plugin problem.

Sometimes plugins can cause such a problem that when you try to access your dashboard to disable them, you will get the same message. If you encounter such an issue, don’t worry, we have another way around for you. 

Just connect your website through FTP and navigate to the wp-content folder. If you rename the plugins directory to plugin_temp, WordPress will no longer know about the plugins and stop running them.

Troubleshooting Themes

Once you are done testing plugins to rule them out, you now have to move to check the theme layer, and here is how you can troubleshoot them.

  1. Disable the current theme.
  2. Don’t forget to activate the default theme, such as twenty-ten.
  3. Run a test. Check if the problem is still there. If not, it means that the problem lies with the theme. If not, move to the WordPress layer.
  4. Start re-activating the plugins individually to make sure you are not encountering a composite problem.

Again, if you can not log in to the dashboard, you can do the same as what you did the plugins. Connect your site with FTP and rename the wp-content/themes directory. This will work most of the time.

Troubleshooting the WordPress Core Files

Hopefully, your problem will be solved now. But if not, WP core files is the last layer to check for. This is the last because it is least problematic. But we have seen incidents where WordPress Core Files become corrupt, stopping WP from working effectively. 

To troubleshoot the core files:

  • Connect your site via FTP.
  • Rename wp-includes and wp-admin to ensure that you are going to upload clean copies of these directories.
  • Make a backup of wp-config.php just in case. This file will hold your database details.
  • Now start uploading the clean version of WP.
  • Run a test. Is your problem solved? If yes, you have successfully isolated the problematic core file. If not, it’s time to run for an expert.
  • Re-activate your themes and plugins and test them individually.

WordPress troubleshooting in a nutshell

Troubleshooting WordPress is a time-taking process. Be patient, and look for the roots of the problem. After diagnosing the issue, you can search for the solution.

If you are not able to do so, call an expert. It’s your final option.