WordPress is a powerful and secure platform, but that doesn’t mean your experience using it will always be smooth. On occasion, you might encounter common WordPress errors while working on your website. Although some of these are harmless, others can have significant consequences, and therefore require immediate attention.
Fortunately, solving these kinds of problems is not as difficult as you might expect. Once you’ve identified the culprits (often glitchy plugins and themes!), you can take the necessary steps to fix your website and prevent similar issues in the future. Before you attempt to troubleshoot any of these common WordPress errors, however, it’s important that you make a backup of your site.
In this post, we’ll look at the 🔎 most common WordPress errors, including server-related issues and security problems. We’ll also discuss their main causes and share a few solutions. Let’s get started!
📚 Table of contents:
400 Errors 🤬
Let’s start with 400 errors. These HTTP client errors indicate a communication issue between your site’s server and the user’s browser. Typically, you’ll see a number from 400 to 499 with a brief description of the problem, which makes these common WordPress errors relatively easy to solve.
400 Bad Request
The 400 Bad Request error is tricky, as it doesn’t point toward a specific issue. It can be triggered in various ways, including:
- A mistake in the URL
- Corrupted or outdated browser cache and cookies
- A mismatch between your site’s Domain Name System (DNS) and the DNS cache on your device
You may also encounter this error when trying to upload a file that’s too large. If that’s the case, you’ll need to resize it and try again.
Otherwise, you’ll want to try the following solutions:
- Check the URL
- Clear your browser cache and cookies
- Disable your browser extensions
You could also try flushing your local DNS. To do this in Windows, open the Command Prompt and enter the following line:
You should see a message once the DNS cache has been cleared.
If you’re a macOS user, open the Terminal and run the following command (for OS X 10.12 and later):
sudo killall -HUP mDNSResponder;sudo killall mDNSResponderHelper;sudo dscacheutil -flushcache
For OS X 10.11, you’ll need to run the following command:
sudo killall -HUP mDNSResponder
Other server issues can also cause the 400 Bad Request error. So, if none of these solutions work, you may want to reach out to your hosting provider for assistance.
This HTTP status code indicates that the server received an unauthenticated request. For example, the user may have entered the wrong login credentials.
Other possible causes include:
- DNS issues
- A firewall or plugin preventing access to the site
First, you’ll want to check the URL and login details to make sure they’re correct. Then, try clearing your browser cache and cookies, and flushing your local DNS.
The 403 Forbidden error appears when you visit a page that you don’t have access to. This is usually triggered by a file permissions issue in your .htacess file, or a plugin on your site.
To fix this issue, you can try:
- Disabling your plugins
- Generating a new .htaccess file
- Changing your file permissions to 755 and 644
Note that you’ll need to connect to your site via the File Manager in your hosting account to troubleshoot this error. Alternatively, you could use a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) client. For additional details about FTP, you might need to contact your web hosting provider.
404 Not Found
The 404 status code is one of the most common WordPress errors. This occurs when a user tries to access a page that no longer exists:
Common causes include a mistyped URL or a broken link. Alternatively, the page may have been moved.
To check your site for broken links, you can use a plugin like Broken Link Checker. Just remember to set up redirects whenever you change a URL.
500 Errors 🖥
500 errors indicate a problem with the server, and can be a bit more difficult to troubleshoot. Let’s look at the most common WordPress errors in this category.
500 Internal Server Error
The internal server error doesn’t tell you exactly what went wrong, but it’s usually triggered by an action on your website. For example, a plugin may have triggered a function that broke your site.
Therefore, you’ll want to start by deactivating all plugins and themes. If the problem persists, delete the .htaccess file (after making a copy).
If you’re still unable to identify the root problem, try turning on debugging mode. To do this, open your wp-config.php file, search for WP_DEBUG, and change the value from false to true, as shown below:
define( 'WP_DEBUG', true )
Then, close the file and reload your site. You might now be able to see what caused the error.
501 Not Implemented
This error suggests that your server doesn’t have the resources needed to complete a request made by the browser. To resolve it, try clearing the browser cache and disabling your proxy settings. You may also need to contact your host for assistance.
502 Bad Gateway
The 502 Bad Gateway error usually appears when the server takes too long to respond. This is a common issue during periods of high traffic. However, it can also be caused by a poorly coded theme or plugin, or a server misconfiguration.
So, once again, you’ll want to deactivate the plugins and themes on your site. If you use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) or firewall, you could try disabling that too. If the error persists, try clearing your cache.
If you’re really struggling with this error and the above solutions don’t work, here’s a detailed step-by-step approach to fixing the 502 error.
503 Service Unavailable
When you encounter this error, it usually means that the server is currently unavailable. Perhaps your host is carrying out scheduled maintenance, or the server is experiencing a high volume of traffic:
Therefore, you may want to reach out to your hosting provider to see if there’s a problem on their end. If not, a plugin or theme may be the culprit.
To resolve the issue, deactivate all plugins and themes on your site. If that doesn’t work, try disabling your CDN, and consider increasing your server’s resources.
504 Gateway Timeout
You might see this error if you’re using a WordPress firewall or proxy server. It means that the request to the server via the proxy or firewall has timed out.
First, try disabling the proxy settings or firewall. If that doesn’t work, there might be a problem with your DNS servers. Therefore, you could try changing the DNS server address to 184.108.40.206 and 220.127.116.11 (Google’s Public DNS).
Now, let’s look at some other common WordPress errors that are caused by server issues.
Memory limit error
Your site has a certain amount of server memory allocated to it. If you exceed this limit, you may encounter memory issues when trying to install a new plugin or upload a file.
Typically, you’ll see the following message:
Fatal error: allowed memory size has been exhausted
Fortunately, you can increase your PHP memory limit by editing your wp-config.php file. Alternatively, you may want to upgrade to a hosting plan with more resources.
Error establishing database connection
This error pops up when your WordPress site is unable to connect to the MySQL database:
It usually means that your database login credentials are incorrect. You can open the wp-config.php file to check these details.
Alternatively, the database may be corrupted. To repair it, open the wp-config.php file and add the following code before the line that reads That’s all, stop editing:
You could also deactivate your plugins and themes to rule out any problems with third-party software.
Maximum Execution Time Exceeded
Your site should be able to process data within a set time limit. If it’s unable to, it will time out and display an error.
Typically, the maximum execution time is 30 seconds. However, you can increase it by adding the following code to your php.ini file:
max_execution_time = 60
If you keep seeing this error, you may want to contact your host for assistance.
Failed to Write File to Disk
You might see this error when trying to upload media files to your site. It’s often caused by incorrect file permissions, so you can check to make sure they’re set up correctly (the numeric values should be set to 755 and 644).
However, this error may also indicate a problem with the server. In this case, your best option is to contact your hosting provider.
Security errors 🔒
Some of the most common WordPress errors are triggered by security issues on your site or server.
Cloudflare Error 521
If you use the Cloudflare CDN on your site, you may encounter an error 521. This means that Cloudflare is unable to connect to your server, either because it’s down or something’s blocking the connection.
First, check to make sure the server is up. If it isn’t, you’ll need to contact your host to find out what’s wrong.
If you’re using a firewall, it may be blocking Cloudflare’s IP ranges. Therefore, you’ll want to make sure they’re whitelisted.
Could Not Create Directory
When you install a plugin or theme, its files are added to your server. In some cases, WordPress is unable to store these files. Usually, this is due to a permissions issue.
To fix it, open the file permissions settings of your wp-admin, wp-content, and wp-includes folders, and make sure that the permission for Write is selected.
Not Allowed to Access This Page
If you see the message Sorry, you are not allowed to access this page, you may have incorrect file permissions. Check to make sure they’re set up correctly (as shown earlier) and that you’re still listed as an Administrator in your site’s user database.
Theme and plugin conflicts could also trigger this common WordPress error, so you may want to try disabling those tools.
If you’ve recently migrated to a new host or installed a new Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate, you might encounter the ERR_SSL_PROTOCOL_ERROR when trying to access your site. This error means that the server was unable to establish a secure connection.
To fix it, try clearing your browser cache and disabling your browser extensions. You may also want to ensure that your SSL certificate has been set up correctly.
If you’ve just switched hosting providers or renewed your certificate, you might need to contact your host for help.
Miscellaneous WordPress errors 🛑
Finally, let’s explore a few other common WordPress errors.
The white screen of death
As the name suggests, this error presents itself as a blank screen. Sometimes you may see the following message:
There has been a critical error on your website.
The white screen of death is usually triggered by compatibility issues with your plugins and themes. Therefore, you’ll want to disable all tools on your site and reactivate one at a time to identify the culprit.
Stuck in maintenance mode
When you run updates on your site, WordPress will automatically go into maintenance mode. This usually lasts a few seconds:
However, an error may cause your site to get stuck in maintenance mode. For example, a connectivity issue may have interrupted the updating process.
To resolve this issue, you’ll just need to go into your site’s root folder, locate the .maintenance file, and delete it.
WordPress syntax errors
These common WordPress errors refer to problems with your code’s structure. For example, you may have added some custom code that contains an error, like a typo. You’ll also find syntax errors in plugins and themes.
These errors can break your site or lock you out of the admin area. You can deactivate any new plugins or themes from the File Manager or via FTP.
If you’ve added the code yourself, you may need to restore a backup of your site.
Destination folder already exists
When you install a plugin or theme, you may get a message that says the destination folder already exists, halting the installation. This usually means that you’ve already installed that plugin.
If you’ve deleted the old version, its files may still be present on your site. Therefore, you’ll need to open your wp-content folder, find the folder with the plugin’s name, and delete it.
Locked out of admin / Login page keeps refreshing
There can be many reasons why you’re locked out of your site. In some cases, the login page will keep refreshing, even after you’ve entered the correct login credentials.
Some common causes include:
- Plugin and theme conflicts
- A corrupted .htaccess file
- Outdated cache in your browser
Start by clearing the cache and cookies in your browser. If the error persists, you can try deactivating your plugins and theme from the File Manager or via FTP. You may also need to delete the .htaccess file, then go to Settings > Permalinks in your WordPress dashboard and click on Save to generate a new one.
Conclusion on common WordPress errors 🧐
Most common WordPress errors are caused by plugin conflicts and poorly coded software. Others may be related to file permissions, corrupted files, and server issues. Sometimes, the error might be a temporary glitch and will disappear once you refresh the page.
When troubleshooting most WordPress errors, you’ll want to start by clearing your browser cache and cookies. You may also need to deactivate your plugins and themes, and check your file permissions. If you’re unable to resolve the issue on your own, you can reach out to your hosting provider for help.
Do you have any questions about the common WordPress errors covered in this post? Let us know in the comments section below!
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