WordPress is a robust but easy to use tool for creating a website. However, it may not seem so easy if you find yourself with an error and you're not sure how to fix the issue. In this article we'll go through some common WordPress errors and the troubleshooting steps recommended for resolving those errors.
Theme and Plugins Errors
A theme or plugin error is not always easy to spot in a WordPress site. Activating a new theme or plugin and immediately receiving errors is a clear indicator of the issue. However, sometimes your site has been running just fine for a while when seemingly out of nowhere an issue occurs. In either case the first steps in troubleshooting are to switch to the default theme and disable plugins.
Switching to the Default Theme
If you still have access to the WordPress dashboard, you can change your theme to either of the WordPress default themes (2010 or 2011). If you no longer have the default theme installed, you will want to search for and install one of the default themes.
If you are unable to access your WordPress admin area or log into your WordPress dashboard, you can manually disable your current theme through either FTP or the cPanel File Manager. Within the folder where you installed WordPress (either public_html or a subfolder) navigate to the wp-content/themes folder and rename your current theme to manually disable it. This will force WordPress to switch to the default theme. Just keep track of what the original name of the folder was so you can easily change if needed.
If you still have access to your WordPress dashboard, simply deactivate the problematic plugin from within the Plugins area of the dashboard. If you cannot access your wp-admin area or log into your dashboard, you can manually disable individual plugins by following the steps in our Disable a WordPress Plugin article. You can also disable all plugins by temporarily renaming the entire plugins folder if needed.
If you're not sure which plugin is the issue, it's usually recommended to Deactivate each plugin individually in the dashboard and then reactivate them one by one until you determine which plugin (or combination of plugins) is causing the error.
404 File not found Error
404 errors on WordPress sites are a little different that 404 errors on other types of sites. We'll cover the two reasons you might see this error on your site and how to fix this error.
The most common cause of a 404 error in WordPress is Permalinks. Change your current Permalink structure to anything else and save the new structure. Switch back to your previous Permalink structure and save again. This usually will resolve any Permalink issues.
Coding Issues in Files
A less common cause of 404 errors on a WordPress site is an issue with the code of either your index.php or your theme's search.php files. This can occur after an edit to one of these files that causes invalid addresses. This is a good time to mention how important it is to keep a backup of your site. Make sure before you edit any files that you make a backup of either your entire site or at least the file(s) you will be editing. If you do not have a backup of your index.php or your theme's search.php file you can download either the WordPress installation files or your theme files to your local computer. Once the download is complete, unzip the file and retrieve the needed index.php or search.php file so you can upload it to the appropriate folder on the server using either FTP or the cPanel File Manager. In the case of the WordPress index.php file you should upload that to wherever you installed your WordPress files. If you need to replace your theme's search.php file, you will want to navigate to your particular theme folder inside wp-content/themes and upload the file there.
Memory Exhausted Errors
This can be a very confusing error for many people. Keep in mind that when you see an error that reads something like this that the memory it is referring to is the memory allocated for PHP, not the total memory of the server itself.
Fatal error: Allowed memory size of 33554432 bytes exhausted (tried to allocate 1966080 bytes) in /home2/user1/public_html/fantasy/wp-includes/class-simplepie.php on line 5353
The good news is that usually this is an easy issue to fix. You will simply want to update your php.ini file to increase your memory limit. Our article on updating your local PHP settings can you walk you through the steps to update your php.ini file.
If you run into a WordPress error not listed above, a good resource is the WordPress Codex and Forums. WordPress has documentation on Troubleshooting and a Support Forum where members of the WordPress community can ask and answer questions related to WordPress.