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How to troubleshoot WordPress issues?

WordPress issues
07.12.2021
4 min read

Try out these 7 fixes to the most common problems!

Undoubtedly, WordPress is one of the most popular platforms for creating a website. But  even it can sometimes cause problems. Just like any other software. Therefore, anyone, even the most experienced users can face some common WordPress issues that leave them scratching their heads.

However, the advantage of WordPress is that it is well-known and widely used, and most of the issues are well documented. Including solutions. So not only can problems be fixed, but they can be avoided.

Anyway, since we understand user frustration very well, below you will find a description of some of the most “popular” problems. With solutions, of course.

1.   Maintenance mode failure

Sometimes, WordPress may get stuck in maintenance mode during an update. The maintenance mode warning can cause panic at first, but there’s no need to be scared because the solution is simple and can be implemented very quickly.

All you need to do is access the website’s web server via an FTP client and delete the “.maintenance” file that was temporarily created. That’s it. Now your website should work again as before.

2.   WordPress does not send emails

On shared web servers, the php mail() function is often blocked. This can result in no emails being sent from the website or forms. A better solution is to send emails using the SMTP protocol as it allows proper authentication, which results in high email deliverability rate.

For this, you can use one of the WordPress plugins. The most popular one, very easy to set-up and use is WP Mail SMTP by WPForms with more than 2 million active installs reported in the WordPress plugin repository and almost exclusively 5-star reviews.

To send emails using the SMTP protocol, you’ll also need the credentials for a webmail account, because it’s not a good idea to use an account you created yourself in your domain. The better approach is to make use of a dedicated service like mailgun.

In addition, the main advantage of this solution is that email services are often whitelisted by email providers, which guarantees higher deliverability of emails that do not end up in spam folders.

3.   Maximum execution time and upload limit

Uploading an image or other media can cause an upload limit issue. Similarly, a maximum execution time error  may occur in case of any memory-intensive task.

You can change values of these parameters in the Dedicated Server section of the hosting panel. Or, you can edit the .httaccess file in the root directory of the website and add the following lines:

upload_max_filesize = 64M
post_max_size = 128M
php_valuemax_execution_time 300

(The above values can be increased as needed).

In WordPress version 5.2 or later, you can check these parameters (and not only these) on a new and very useful Site Health tab. To access it, open your WordPress admin dashboard, select “Tools”, and then the Site Health tab.

4.   XMLRPC

XML-RPC is a very old WordPress standard and your website probably does not use it anymore. Unlike hackers. This protocol is commonly used for DDOS or brute-force attacks. Therefore, it is highly recommended to block the xmlrpc.php file.

To do this, edit the “functions.php” file of your theme and add the following line:

add_filter(‘xmlrpc_enabled’, ‘__return_false’);

The second way to block the xmlrpc file is to edit the .htaccess file and to add the following code:

<Filesxmlrpc.php>
OrderAllow,Deny
Deny from all

</Files>

5.   Unused plugins in WordPress

The easiest way to avoid problems is to leave only the plugins you use and keep them up to date.

Therefore, any importer plugin that was used to import data from another website should be removed. And this is not just about the potential security vulnerabilities. It’s also about the fact that too many plugins can reduce the website loading speed.

And remember, if you are sure you only have necessary add-ons, update them as soon as possible and keep them up to date.

6.   When the error message is blank – WordPress White Screen of Death

Many of us remember the blue screen of death that appears in Windows when something goes really wrong.

In WordPress you can face a similar White Screen of Death, when the browser displays a blank page and nothing else. The first action you should take facing that problem is to locate the wp-config.php file and enable debug mode by changing the following line from:

define( 'WP_DEBUG', false );

to

define( 'WP_DEBUG', true );

Now you should see a white page, but with some text describing the problem, which may help to fix the issue. In many cases, it’s a memory limitation error, which was described in one of the previous paragraphs. And do not forget to set WP_DEBUG to false when the problem is fixed.

7.   Backups

There are two types of people. The ones who back up their files and the other ones, who will back up their files later. Probably one day. It’s really better to belong to the first group. Not only in the context of the WordPress website, but also for all important data.

Especially since most hosting providers offer backup services. But in this case, it’s important to check how often it is done and how far back you can go if something goes wrong.

Besides, there are many paid plugins or backup services for WordPress such as Jetpack Backup from Auttomattic, the company behind the WordPress system itself, BlogVault, or Backupbuddy. But backups can also be done without paid services. For example, you can use the free plugin BackWpUp, which in its basic version allows you to store backup on FTP, Dropbox, Amazon S3, or Microsoft Azure.

Jedrusik-WLC

Upper-mid PHP Developer / Frontend & Backend

Highly experienced professional in full-stack web development. His competences include building web applications, websites, content management systems, and team leading. Besides solid technical background, his strengths such as business analysis, solution design or writing technical documentation has led him to become a widely-skilled professional.

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