13 Common WordPress Errors [And How To Fix Them]

WordPress errors: WordPress is a powerful CMS, maybe the most popular in 2022, that has enabled many businesses to grow online. The bad part is that it can be an overwhelming platform for those who have never used it before. In this article, I will mention most of them and how to get rid of them.


I. WordPress Syntax Error

The syntax error is one of the most common WordPress errors of all time. If you are seeing a WordPress syntax error on your website it is more than likely caused by changes you recently made to your WordPress installation or perhaps a bad plugin or theme that you just installed. 

How to debug WordPress syntax error and find the issue?

ATTENTION: ALWAYS DO A BACKUP OF YOUR SITE BEFORE DOING ANY CHANGE.

To debug a WordPress syntax error you will need to edit your WP-CONFIG.PHP file and add the following line of code:

define('WP_DEBUG', true);

Add the line at any blank space anywhere in the file. After you have added this line you should be able to refresh your website and see more details regarding your error. Adding WP_DEBUG and setting it to true basically tells WordPress to show you more technical details of why you are having trouble. Attention: You should never keep this setting enabled on a live website because it allows malicious users to gain more information about potential issues with your website.

If you are still having issues you may need to contact the support team of your hosting provider to see if they can help you or use the WordPress forums to see if someone may be able to help there.

How do I fix the WordPress syntax error?

The easiest way to fix this issue if you recently installed a plugin is to simply deactivate the plugin. If you lack access to the WordPress admin area you can deactivate the plugin by removing its folder under /wp-content/plugins/PLUGIN-NAME/. Always make sure to do a backup before editing files. You can use an FTP client like FileZilla to access the files to your website. If this does not solve your error continue on to the next section to see more solutions to solving this issue.


II. WordPress Internal Server Error

Internal server error or ‘500 internal server error’ is another very familiar error for the WordPress user. When there is an internal server problem occurred but the server cannot identify the problem then this error is shown. The error message does not show the source of the error, so it is quite difficult for the user to solve this problem.

How to Fix the 500 Internal Server Error?

There are many reasons why 500 internal server errors occur but the most likely cause when it comes to WordPress is a .htaccess file that is configured wrong. Before you make any changes to your site it is recommended that you do a full backup, you could use an FTP client like FileZilla to do this. Now you need to open and edit your .htaccess file and reset it to the default WordPress version which I have added below:

# BEGIN WordPress

<IfModule mod_rewrite.so>
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteRule ^index\.php$ - [L]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /index.php [L]
</IfModule>

# END WordPress

Once you have saved the file simply reload your website to see if the 500 internal server error has been fixed. If you are still having issues please go on to the next section of this page.

Other ways to fix the 500 Internal Server Error

Another possibility is that there is something wrong with the code, to find out more about the error you can edit the wp-config.php file in your root directory and add the following line of code anywhere in the file.

define('WP_DEBUG', true);

This will allow WordPress to display technical error details of why you may be experiencing this issue. If you see a blank page there may be other problems that may be harder to solve.

A common reason for getting this error may also be PHP memory limits. This can be hard to change on a regular hosting account and I would recommend contacting your hosting provider for more information on how to raise this limit. Raising the limit is usually not recommended as it usually points to other flaws with your website, something is using more memory than it should and that is not good.


III. WordPress Connection Timed Out Error

Connection timed out error occurs when any functional complication of the server happened. This error causes because heavy plugins, limited memory space, etc.


IV. WordPress Update Failed Error

Downloading update from https://wordpress.org/wordpress-5.9.zip…
Unpacking the update…
Could not copy files.
Installation Failed

The auto-update failed because of the server problem generally. When these errors happen, a blank white screen would be shown, and after sometimes an updated failed notice would be given.


V. WordPress Error Establishing a Database Connection

When the website cannot connect to the database then this error occurs. Sometimes the server is unable to load correct data and becomes unresponsive. This error is called “Error Establishing a Database Connection“.

How do I fix “Error Establishing a Database Connection”?

WordPress database errors are usually caused by database details in the configuration file being incorrect. You will probably see a notice like “Error establishing a database connection” when this occurs. The easiest way to check this is to open your FTP client, I prefer FileZilla, and connecting to your site. Navigate to your root directory and find your wp-config.php file. Change the following values in that file to reflect the settings for your database. If you are not sure about these settings you can always check with your web host.

/** MySQL database name */
define('DB_NAME', 'your database name');
/** MySQL database username */
define('DB_USER', 'your database username');
/** MySQL database password */
define ('DB_PASSWORD', 'your database password');
/** MySQL hostname */
define('DB_HOST', 'your database username');

Still, having issues?

If you are sure that your database details are correct in the configuration file then your issue may be caused by some kind of server issue or corrupt database. What you can do to check this is to go to the main page of your site and check if you get the same error if you go to /wp-admin. If you see a message along the lines of “One or more database tables are unavailable. The database may need to be repaired” then there is something you can try to get this fixed. You need to add the following line to your wp-config.php file, add the code anywhere there is an empty line.

define('WP_ALLOW_REPAIR', true);

Now reload the /wp-admin page and it should present you with the option to repair the database. Click repair and let it run until finished and check if this solves your issue. You may want to remove the above code after you are done.

The advanced way to fix this error (don’t do it if you’re a newbie):

A few years ago, I ran into this problem after I accidentally removed the URL from the settings (it happens to everyone).

I fixed the problem by logging into phpMyAdmin (search it in the cPanel). If you have more sites installed, search for your site’s database (the one with the error), and in your Database go to the table WP_OPTIONS (If you don’t know what is the name of the database for that website, go to WP-CONFIG.PHP and you’ll find the database name there).

When in here click browse, this lists all the information.

You will notice the site URL value is blank.

Click the edit button (it looks like a pencil) and re-input your URL into the Value text area and click save.


VI. WordPress Memory Exhausted Error

Exhausted memory error happens when a script of WordPress becomes exhausted because of limited memory. When this error occurs, a message will be shown on the screen with memory size and the error type.

First of all, make sure your hosting plan is good enough for the size of your site. Let’s say you have a big WordPress site, with hundreds of posts and hundreds of unique visitors per day. If you host this kind of site on a basic and shared hosting plan, you will encounter this error very often. Make sure you have a powerful hosting plan.

Second, you can try to increase the memory limit

Editing wp-config.php file

To edit this file, you need access to your server via FTP. The file can be found directly in the root of your WordPress site.

Open the file in your favorite editor. At the very bottom, right before the line that says, “Happy Blogging”, add the following line:

define('WP_MEMORY_LIMIT', '1G');

WordPress memory may be handled differently, that’s why you need to set this in any case.

Editing your PHP.ini file

If you have access to the PHP.ini on your server, please look for the following setting and update it as follows:

memory_limit = 1G;

Editing your .htaccess file

To edit this file, you need access to your server via FTP. The file can be found directly at the root of your WordPress site.

Open the file in your favorite editor and add the following line at the top of it:

php_value memory_limit 1G

VII. WordPress White Screen of Death

Generally, this error is shown when the page exceeds the PHP memory limit. The error shows only a white screen but doesn’t show any messages so it is quite difficult for the user to find out the source.

The WordPress white screen of death is one of the most common errors that you may have to face once in a while. You are just shown a blank white screen with no error message which makes it even more frustrating.

The white screen of death may not affect the entire site but certain parts of it. For example, you may see the website fine but won’t see the admin area because it is where the error has occurred.

Luckily this error is not too hard to fix and in this tutorial, we will show you how to fix the WordPress white screen of death.

Note: Before attempting any solution, please make sure to backup your website. if you don’t have access to the admin area, backup through FTP.

Cause of White Screen of Death

The white screen of death generally occurs when one of your scripts has exhausted the memory limit of your hosting server. The script gets automatically killed by the server which in-turns results in a blank white screen with no error message.

The error can also come if you are using a poorly coded theme. That’s why recommend buying a theme from Themeforest.net as mostly they have very high-quality themes.

Since the white screen of death can be caused by a number of factors, here we are listing several potential fixes that may work for you.

Method 1: Increase PHP Memory Limit

One of the reasons for this error is the exhaustion of the PHP memory limit. To fix it, just increase the PHP memory limit and that should give enough memory to the script to run properly.

How to Increase PHP Memory Limit

METHOD 1: INCREASE PHP MEMORY LIMIT THROUGH CPANEL MULTI PHP INI EDITOR

To increase PHP memory limit through MultiPHP INI Editor:

Go to your hosting CPanel.

Find “MultiPHP INI Editor” and click on it.

Select the website from the dropdown.

Find memory_limit and set it to at least 512M.

METHOD 2: INCREASE PHP MEMORY LIMIT THROUGH WP-CONFIG.PHP FILE

Navigate to your website’s root folder.

Find wp-config.php

Right-click on the file and click on edit.

Paste the below code just before the line that says ‘That’s all, stop editing! Happy blogging.’

define( 'WP_MEMORY_LIMIT', '512M' );

Save the edit.


VIII. WordPress 404 page not found

Sometimes when a user visits a particular post this error is shown. The main cause of this error is the complication of permalink settings. The user needs to setup all the settings again to solve this problem.

How To Troubleshoot and Fix WordPress 404 Errors?

When you see a 404 error on your WordPress site it means that a page could not be found for the requested URL. This means that either the URL is wrong or that something is not working right inside your WordPress installation. Below we have listed many of the ways to go about troubleshooting and fixing these WordPress 404 errors.

.HTACCESS

More than likely .htaccess is the culprit for these errors and the easiest way to try to fix this is by changing the permalink settings in order to try to let WordPress automatically rebuild the .htaccess file. So how do you change your permalink settings?

Simply go to Settings -> Permalinks inside your admin area and save your settings, sometimes switching to a different URL structure temporarily and saving is a good idea. This should have solved any 404 errors you may have had on your site.

If that did not solve the issue you will need to log in via FTP, you can use a client like FileZilla to do this. Enter the host and login details for your website and navigate to your WordPress root directory. You should see a .htaccess file here and if you do not you will need to create the file. Now, open your .htaccess file via a text editor like Notepad++. Your .htaccess file should have the following content, if it does not you may need to replace everything in it with the content below.

# BEGIN WordPress
<IfModule mod_rewrite.so>
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteRule ^index\.php$ - [L]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /index.php [L]
</IfModule>
# END WordPress

Once you have updated your .htaccess file you can go to your site, refresh the page and see if you are still getting 404 errors. If you are still getting 404 errors continue on to the next section.

Mod_Rewrite and server settings

If you are still having issues at this point the error most likely lies in your server settings. This means that your web host may not be configured to run WordPress properly or they may be having technical issues. Contact your web host and make sure they have mod_rewrite enabled. You should also ask your web host for help to see if they can help you fix the 404 errors on your site.

Debugging

There is a plugin called Debug This which will allow you to debug rewrite errors. Simply add it to your WordPress installation and access the plugin via the admin bar on the page on which you are seeing the 404 error.


IX. Error in the sidebar

Another common WordPress error of all time is the sidebar error. The sidebar of the webpage sometimes is shown to the below of the content because of this error. This error occurs when the users forget to close any HTML.


X. WordPress Blank Page

After installing a new theme for WordPress this error occurs sometimes. All the content becomes blank because of this error and the user cannot access the dashboard. WordPress blank page caused by exceeding memory limits of your hosting server.

Exceeding the memory limits is another very likely reason for the white screen of death. This usually happens when you try to install a plugin that exceeds your default memory limit and causes the WordPress blank page.


X1. WordPress 403 error

Another very common error is the 403 error. When this error occurs a message will appear which says: “You are not authorized to view this page. (403 error)”

When the 403 status code shows up on your screen, it means that your server thinks you do not have the required permission to access that particular page. The 403 Forbidden error typically appears when you’re trying to log in to your WordPress admin area or when you visit a specific page on your site.


XII. Unable to delete a plugin

If this error appears then the user cannot delete any WordPress plugin. To solve this error:

  1. Open your FTP client and connect to your site. 
  2. Navigate to your root directory.
  3. Go to the WP Content folder.
  4. Go to the Plugins folder.
  5. Find the plugin name’s folder.
  6. Rename it (you can put “plugin_name + – old”).
  7. Reload your site. If everything is fine, access the plugin folder again (point 5) and rename the folder with the original name. If the error persists, rename it with “-old”, delete that plugin and search for an alternative.

From time to time, a plugin can generate this error due to the cache plugin (simple way), or due to a PHP error (advanced way, I will not specify here how to solve it, because you risk to broke the entire site).


XIII. WordPress uploading image error:

You will get this error while you’re trying to upload an image on your WordPress site.

There are different reasons for this error, and we will try to find the best solution to get rid of it.

Check your image file name

First of all, check your image’s name. If it contains special characters, this might be the reason. Rename the image with simple words, even random words.

Post-processing of the image failed.

This happens when you are trying to upload an image that is large in pixel size, for example, an image with 3000 x 2000 pixels. Which is too large for your server to process.

Read more here: [SOLVED] Post-processing of the image failed. If this is a photo or a large image, please scale it down to 2500 pixels and upload it again. 

Other possible solutions:

  1. Decrease your image size before uploading. You can use GIMP (it’s a free and very useful photo editor software). After install, select (from the menu above): Image -> Scale Image -> put a lower image size.
  2. Increase PHP Memory – Again, the PHP Memory limit has a crucial role for each WordPress site.
  3. ModSecurity – Your hosting server may have mod_security enabled, and it might be the cause of this error, so you may disable it and check if works.

To disable the mod_security, add the following code to the .htaccess: 

ATTENTION: EACH MODIFICATION ON THIS FILE MAY BREAK YOUR SITE. BEFORE DOING ANYTHING, DOWNLOAD A COPY OF THAT FILE INTO YOUR COMPUTER, OR COPY THAT FILE ON YOUR SERVER AND RENAME IT BY ADDING AN “-OLD” TO THE FILE. IN CASE SOMETHING GOES WRONG, REINSTATE THE OLD FILE.
<IfModule mod_security.c> 
SecFilterEngine Off 
SecFilterScanPOST Off 
</IfModule>

Unable to create the directory and broken images in the Media Library

Do you see this error when you try to upload a new image: “Unable to create directory wp-content/uploads/2022/02. Is its parent directory writable by the server”?. If so, the folder permission is not well configured. Here is the solution:

  1. Navigate to wp-content/uploads/ (with Filezilla, or even through cPanel and Files Manager feature)
  2. Use your FTP program to change the uploads folder permission to 755, apply it to all enclosed items.
  3. This will make sure all items and folders within your uploads folder are set to 755.

XIV. Warning – “Cannot Modify Header Information” Error

This happens when the error is triggered due to a broken code within your page’s header. The message, for instance, appears like this:

Warning: Cannot modify header information - headers already sent by (output started at /yoursite/wp-config.php:1) in /yoursite/wp-includes/pluggable.php on line 1251 

Warning: Cannot modify header information - headers already sent by (output started at /yoursite/wp-config.php:1) in /yoursite/wp-includes/pluggable.php on line 1254

Solutions:

The warning cannot modify header information – headers already sent by error can be solved in different ways. First, go to wp-config.php and add this code on the first line:

ob_start(); 

error_reporting(0);

Clean the browser’s cache (if you have any cache plugin installed, try to flush it) and see if the issue was solved.

2nd solution

The solution for me was the windows locale wasn’t on UTF8, and unzipping the files seems to have screwed things up.


How To Turn On Debug Messages For WordPress

This simple thing will help you find the best solution for getting rid of the most WordPress errors. I already mentioned above the “WordPress debug” feature. Below I will make a special section about it.

By default, WordPress will turn off all debugging messages so the visitor to the site can’t see any error messages showing anything wrong with the code.

If you do any WordPress development, such as new plugins or theme development, this can cause a problem as you won’t see if you have any settings wrongs.

Turning on debug mode will display all warnings or error messages you have with any installed plugins or themes. The “WordPress debug” feature makes it easy to spot outdated or use old WordPress functions that are not supported anymore.

Turn On Debugging

To turn on debug messages you need to open up your wp-config.php file and find the line.

define('WP_DEBUG', false);

Comment out this line a replace it with.

define('WP_DEBUG', true);
define('WP_DEBUG_LOG', true);

Please Note

You must remember to turn this off when you put your website live or the visitor will be able to see all your debugging messages.

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