What If I Broke My WordPress Website? | Captain Coder

What If I Broke My WordPress Website?

Marisa VanSkiver / May 23, 2022

woman upset at laptop because her website is down

You clicked a couple of things in your WordPress site and now nothing will load.

You panic, because having your website go down means that people can’t explore your services, enter your email list, or maybe even get to the top of that funnel you’re running.

What do you do?

Well, the first thing to do is to not panic. You need your website back up and you certainly don’t want to lose all of that work you’ve put into it. But as we all know, panicking helps no one.

I’m going to show you, step by step, how you can go about fixing a broken WordPress website so you can get back to running your business.

Updating Plugins and WordPress

The most common culprit of a broken WordPress website is a recent update to the plugins you use or WordPress itself.

If you’re familiar with your WordPress dashboard, it’s those annoying orange numbers in the left-hand menu. They glare at you begging to be taken care of.

To keep your website secure, you have to keep those updated, but not all plugins or themes were written with the best WordPress longevity in mind.

If your site started to freak out after you hit Update on anything, take a quick note at that now. Do you remember which plugin it was? Or was it your theme or WordPress itself you updated?

Anytime you’re updating plugins, themes, and WordPress, you want to do just one at a time and take note of what you’re updating. Even if you can’t get your website back up on your own, knowing what might have been the cause will be a huge time saver for the web developer who helps you.

WordPress Emails

WordPress added a nice functionality awhile back that sends out an email to alert the site owner that 1) the site is having issues and 2) what caused the conflict.

Check if you’re the person who gets those emails at Settings > General > Administration Email Address. (If you have a care plan, it might be your web developer’s email address in that field.)

How to Fix a WordPress Website

If you want to take a few minutes to try and get your website back up and running, you can do a few easy things.

Is it Actually Down?

Honestly, sometimes we think our websites have gone down but it’s just stuck in the memory/cache on our own internet.

To make sure that your website is indeed down, you can use a handy tool called downforeveryoneorjustme.com and it’ll tell you whether your website is actually down.

My favorite trick though is to turn off the WiFi on my phone (this is important) and use my phone’s data to try the site. If it comes up, it’s a problem with your internet or browser only.

Try clearing your cache or hitting CTRL + Shift + R to purge that info.

White Screen of Death

Just like Windows has the oh-so-fun blue screen of death, WordPress has the white screen of death.

This is when nothing is loading at all and all you literally see is a white screen (or maybe an error message).

The white screen of death means there’s an error in your PHP code and usually it’s a sign that there was an issue with a plugin you just updated or installed.

If you get this error, you can log into your FTP and find the wp-config.php file.

At the bottom of that file, just add the line

define(WP_DEBUG, true);

That will display an error message so that you know exactly what is causing the problem.

Deactivate the Offending Plugin

Usually, it’s a plugin that’s causing the issue.

Go to yourwebsite.com/wp-admin and navigate to the Plugins in the left-hand menu. From here, find the plugin that you just added or updated and deactivate it.

That should bring your website back up as the error clears.

Deactivating Plugins Manually

If you can’t even get to your WordPress dashboard, you have to do a bit of a workaround.

Log into your FTP and find wp-content/plugins/ and look for the folder of the plugin causing your issue. Rename that folder by simply adding -BAK to it. That will deactivate the plugin and should get you back into your website.

Who Do You Call?

Does all of this just sound like too much or you’ve never logged into your FTP before? Who can you call for help?

Most people start with their hosting company; where their website lives. We talked about how to choose a quality web hosting provider last week, but one thing to keep in mind is not all hosting companies are created equally.

In fact, many will tell you that your broken website is your problem and to “contact a web developer.”

Super helpful.

This is where a website care plan can be incredibly beneficial because it keeps you protected against just these instances. It also gives you someone to call and actually get help from if you don’t want to try the next few steps.

My customers know that if something goes wrong with their websites, I’m just a phone call away to get them back online.

Ready to have full peace of mind that your website and leads will be protected? Let’s chat about how a care plan can help you.

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