How to Troubleshoot WordPress

Over the years, we’ve developed a potent troubleshooting strategy for removing minor bottlenecks in WordPress. This also helps us deal with client issues and they too find it easy to learn. Our methods usually work fine with major WordPress crashes. These have been compiled from various WP communities and professionals.

How to Troubleshoot WordPress

The process

We isolate the numerous WordPress layers and focus on it. The components inside the layer are tested individually and removed one step at a time. Once solved, the next layer is approached in a similar fashion. This may be slow, but it is thorough and detailed in the way that it solves problems. Now, most of you will be asking which are the layers mentioned here.

The layers

  • Plugins
  • Theme
  • WordPress Core
  • Database

What you can fix with this methodology?

You can fix myriad issues using this technique. The most common issues which can be solved are:

  • White screen of death – Where nothing is seen except a white screen
  • Fatal Plugin errors
  • Header Already Sent
  • Out Of Memory errors
  • And Many More..

First Take a Backup

Even if the website is currently in a crashed state, it is prudent that you take a backup. You are about to start many steps that will make numerous changes to your website which means that you need to have a backup. With a good back up the point, you can ensure that you can easily fall back to a position in case you make any mistakes. It also ensures that you don’t make the situation any worse.

Troubleshooting Plugins

We recommend you begin with plugin stage because it is observed that majority of the problems are caused due to plugin failures. Coding quality of the plugin is questionable but due to their functionality, they are usually chosen and their flaws ignored. When you add extensions to the plugins, you can create even more potent mixture of potential crashes.

Here’s how to fix plugins

Step 1 – Disable all plugins – Notice, if the problem has gone. If it has, you can systematically identify which plugin is causing the issue. Test the website after deactivating each plugin.

Step 2 – Re-activate the plugins in reverse order and see if the problem comes back. Identify the plugin causing issues and disable it.

Step 3 – Reactivate all the remaining plugins.

Sometimes, the issue is so drastic that you cannot even reach the disabled dashboard and keep getting an error message. Don’t worry, all is not lost. In such a case, connect to the website using FTP and locate the wp-content folder. Now, rename the plugin directory to plugins_wait. This will cause WP to skip and not run the plugins. Now, you can log in to the website and notice that it works fine when plugins are not running. Once in the dashboard, you can rename the directory back to plugins. Now the plugins will be available and you can start the above steps to identify the faulty one.

Troubleshooting WP Themes

After ruling out the plugins, you should move to the theme as a potential troublemaker.

  • Disable the currently installed theme.
  • Now, a default theme should be activated for example: Twenty Ten.
  • Start testing. Most likely the problem will have vanished. If not, you should move to the core WordPress layer.
  • Also activate the plugins to make sure that it is not a composite problem.

Next step is to also check for any recent code additions. Revert back any new codes you might have added. Make sure that the newly added widgets are also working suitably. In case you cannot log in to the dashboard, apply the same FTP route as used for the plugin step above.

Fixing WordPress Core Files

Next comes the WordPress core files. It is probably the least problematic area to be spending time on. Although safe, these files can be corrupted or even faulty that prevent them from functioning properly. The best way to fix core WordPress files is to re-install them.

Here are the steps:

  • Download a clean WordPress version.
  • Connect to your website via FTP.
  • Wp-includes and wp-admin should be renamed to make sure the clean copies are uploaded.
  • Take a back up of wp-config.php to be safe. It contains database connection details.
  • Upload the WordPress clean version.
  • Now you can test if the issue is fixed. If yes, then issue at WordPress core level is fixed.
  • Re-activate your earlier theme and begin testing.
  • Re-activate the plugins and undertake their testing.

Fixing the Component

By now, the problematic component is isolated. Here’s what to do next:

  • Check for any updates to the plugin or see if they have support for the particular issue you are facing. You are likely to find suitable solutions over there.
  • Find a suitable replacement for the theme or plugin.
  • Find the exact solution at
  • Search for the answers on social media. Sometimes, it’s just as easy as sending a message to an expert.
  • If all else fails, hire a WordPress expert technical support team or a good WP consultant to solve your problems.

Final Words

This method is most likely to resolve your issues on a daily basis. The key is to work through all the layers periodically and removing the problematic issues at each stage until the root cause is found. Remember to use this methodology in the stepwise instructions as mentioned above.

Do you want to share any WordPress horror stories? Talk to our WordPress consultants today to look for appropriate solutions.