Common Problems with WordPress Websites and How to Fix Them

We have often received requests for help with WordPress. These requests begin with installation problems down to management and security challenges. We have created this post to address the most common problems our clients have complained about and how they were addressed. Although this post will not address all the problems we have found with WordPress website, we hope to be able to address the most common we have received from our clients and website users. Happy reading.

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  • WordPress Site Loads as a Downloadable File

This is often the problem found when you use the QuckInstall auto-installer to run WordPress. It is a common problem with those new to QuickInstall or installing WordPress for the first time.
The common cause of this problem is that QuickInstall automatically inserts a code not compatible with the website PHP version.
The solution is to delete the php handler in the htaccess file.

  • Error establishing a database connection

This has been another common problem with those who are new to WordPress. It means the website is unable to connect to the database.
The common cause of this problem is a misconfiguration in wp-config.php file.
To fix this problem locate the file in root of your WordPress installation and ensure that you have provided the correct information regarding the Database Name, Database Username, Database hostname and Database password. The other reason you could find this error is if you have not set the right privileges for the database user.

The solution:
Check the database name in the configuration file. It should be the account username_database name. Using the same format, check the database password and database user. These will usually be applicable when you are installing WordPress manually. You will want to reset the database password at this stage. This can be done from the database section in your website control panel. Click on the database you want to modify, click on password reset, generate the new password and save the changes.

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  • Connection Timeout

This usually occurs when your website overruns server limit. Usually, there is a time limit allowed on server to run applications.. When this time is exceeded, then you can see the connection time error. Here are ways you can solve this issue:
• If you think it is a theme related issue, then disable the current theme. Go back to the WordPress original theme and check if the error is fixed or not.
• Ask your hosting provider to increase your PHP memory limits.
• You might want to increase the execution time in your php.ini file. If needed, ask your hosting provider to do this for you.

  • 403: Forbidden Access

This error means your server doesn’t allow access to a page. It is an error you will see when viewing a particular age. Poor security plugins is a likely cause of this error. Security plugins can block the IP address. The fix is to check your plugins to see if you are being blocked. Check file permissions also and if you have challenges, check with your web host for assistance.

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  • WordPress posts returning 404 Error

There are times when you have access to the blog main page but when you try to access a single post, you get an error. This throws up a big challenge for starters.  You should check if your htaccess file is not deleted or if the rewrite rules are wrong Check the htaccess file and if you are not sure of what it should be, then copy the content from an active and functional htaccess file and insert that into your page. You can overwrite the htaccess using FTP.. Remember to double check your file permissions.

You will also need to check permalinks settings. Go to your WordPress admin settings, then permalinks and then check the settings and click the Save button. This will automatically update the permalinks settings and the rewrite rules will be flushed. This should fix the problem.

500: Internal Server Error in WordPress

This is another problem that is common with people who are new to WordPress. Basically, it is caused by plugins, and can also be as a result of theme features or PHP memory limit being exceeded. It is not a WordPress-specific issue and there could be other causes of this problem. If things get too bad, then you will need to contact your web host.

Specifically, check to be sure your htaccess file is not corrupted. This can be solved using an FTP software to overwrite your htaccess file. You can also create a new htaccess file and update the content with the right codes. Go back to refresh your website to see if everything is working fine.

There could also be some files that do not have the permissions, and they could be causing this problem. To solve this issue, select the file or folder via FTP and edit its permissions.

  • Headers Already Sent Error Messages

This will most likely be caused by a syntax error in the wp-config.php file.
Open the file in a text editor. The cPanel file editor is an excellent one for this. The first line should contain
only this line: <?php. The last line
should contain only this line: ?>.
Make sure that those lines contain nothing else — not even a white space. Save the file changes.

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  • Sidebar Below Content Error in WordPress

WordPress users often experience a situation where the sidebar appear below content instead of being next to the content. This issue is mostly caused by WordPress themes. We have looked at solving theme related problems in a section below but it should also be noted that this problem could be caused by code errors. When users are adding code snippets to their site, they may accidentally forget to close an html div tag or add an extra closing div which could break the theme layout. Another common cause is using disproportionate width in CSS or not clearing float properly.

  • White Text and Missing Buttons in WordPress Visual Editor

Sometimes you see white spaces when buttons from WordPress visual editor disappear and instead of showing the buttons., you see white spaces This problem may occur when concatenated JavaScript is not working. It is a problem caused by missing or corrupt TinyMCE files, or conflict with some other plugin that modifies or extends the TinyMCE that comes with WordPress.

  • WordPress Memory Exhausted Error – Increase PHP Memory

This error suggests a whitte screen of death, or an error message like this one: Fatal error: Allowed memory size of xxxxxxxxxxxx bytes exhausted (tried to allocate xxxxxxxxx bytes) in /home/username/public_html/site1/wp-includes/plugin.php on line xxx

This error occurs when a WordPress script or a plugin exhausts the default allocated memory size limit. [Fix WordPress memory exhausted error] You can increase the limit in your php.ini file or contact your web host for help.

  • Locked out of WordPress admin area

Sometimes you may find yourself unable to login to login to WordPress admin area. This could happen if you forgot your password and don’t have to access to password recovery email. A plugin or code that incorrectly tries to make some changes into admin section can also lock you out. You may also lose access to admin area due to a hacked WordPress site. Another reason will be that you have been prevented access due to some htaccess allow deny rule.

  • WordPress login redirect error

You have this problem when you attempt to login to the WordPress dashboard and you are redirected by WordPress back to the login page.
Most of the time it happens due to incorrect values for site URL and home URL fields in WordPress options table. It can also be caused by poorly configured permalink settings or redirects setup in the .htaccess file.

  • WordPress image upload issues

This occurs when you find that all the images from their site are gone and are showing broken image placeholders. When you try to upload an image to a post, it results into an error.
All these files in the media library will appear as broken. A number of factors may be responsible including incorrect file and directory permissions in a WordPress installation.
Sometimes uploading images to a WordPress site can be confusing for someone new to WordPress. A user may be unable to find out how to align images, resize or crop them, or display them in a gallery format. This in itself is not an error and you will only need to use a utility software like Photoshop to correct display problems.

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  • Are you sure you want to do this error in WordPress

This error may be seen in WordPress admin area. The most common cause of this error is a plugin or theme failing to use Nonce properly.

  • WordPress unavailable for maintenance error

Sometimes due to an unfinished or interrupted WordPress update, you might see “Briefly Unavailable for Scheduled Maintenance” error in WordPress.

What happens then is that WordPress puts your site in maintenance mode during an update. If for some reason the update is interrupted, then WordPress does not get the chance to put your site out of the maintenance mode. This error would lock down your entire site and make it unavailable for admins as well as visitors. You can follow the manual update instructions outlined below to address this issue.

  • WordPress not sending email error

The most common symptom of this problem is not receiving any contact form or WordPress notification emails from your site. The most common cause of this problem is that most shared hosting providers disable or limit the module used for sending emails to prevent their servers from abuse. If you contact your provider and this is the case, then there not much you can do.

  • RSS feed errors in WordPress

Most WordPress RSS feed errors are caused by poor formatting. Error like these:

XML Parsing Error: XML or text declaration not at start of entity
Line Number 2, Column 1:

You can also see this error message when visiting your feed in a browser.

Warning: Cannot modify header information – headers already sent by (output started at /home/username/ in /home/username/ on line 1228

WordPress outputs RSS feeds in XML which is a strict markup language. A missing line break or an extra tab can break your RSS feed.

  • Too many redirects error in WordPress

This is a problem associated with a misconfigured redirection. As you know that WordPress has SEO friendly URL Structure which uses the redirect function. Several other popular WordPress plugins also use the redirect functionality as well.

Due to a misconfiguration in any of these redirection tools, your site may end up redirecting users to a URL that is actually redirecting them back to the referring URL. In that case the user’s browser is locked in a redirect loop.

  • Upload failed error in WordPress

This error occurs for a number of reasons. The most common being incorrect folder permissions. Each file and folder on your website has a set of permissions. Your web server controls access to the files based on these permissions. Incorrect permissions to a folder can take away your ability to write files on server. This means your web server cannot create or add new files to that particular folder. To fix this error, begin by checking the permissions for every folder and if the issues continue, you have to contact your web host for help.

  • Harmful programs error in Google Chrome

This error occurs when Google finds any suspicious code that could be a malware or trojan. Many times, this occur when there is a website hack and your website is used to distribute malicious code. This error can also occur when your website is displaying adverts from low quality advertising networks. These networks may sometime display ads linking to websites distributing malicious code.

  • Missed post schedule error

WordPress has a feature allowing you to schedule posts to be automatically published at a specified time. Most bloggers rely on the future to manage their publishing schedule. WordPress can sometimes miss scheduled posts which is the error we are now looking at. To address this problem, you need to install and activate the WP Missed Schedule fix failed posts plugin. This plugin looks for posts that have missed their scheduled time. If it finds a post that missed it’s schedule, then it will publish them correctly.

Also read: WordPress Maintenance Tasks You Need to Perform Regularly

  • Facebook Incorrect Thumbnail Issue in WordPress

This error occurs when Facebook is prevented from correctly displaying the right thumbnail image. One of the most common reason is having multiple images set in the og:image tag where your featured image is smaller than rest of the images. Facebook uses Open Graph (og) tags, and to fix this, you need to install the Yoast SEO plugin which automatically adds them to your site to prevent missing thumbnail issue.

  • WordPress Theme Installation Errors

A normal WordPress theme should install without errors. However, some persons do encounter errors when installing WordPress themes so here are the most common errors and the solutions:
The package could not be installed. The theme is missing the style.css stylesheet.
This is one of the most common errors reported with WordPress theme installation. It occurs because they try uploading the Full zip that includes sample data, documentation and much more which displays the “The package could not be installed. The theme is missing the style.css stylesheet.” error.

You can fix this by checking to mae sure that you are uploading only the installable theme which is normally Usually, whem downloading a theme, it gives you tow choices, one is to download the full zip which you will need to extract to locate the theme and the other one is just the installable theme. Check this always very properly to install rightly.

Also read: WordPress Performance: How to Find a Slow Plugin

Fix WordPress Problems with a Manual Update

With WordPress, the automatic upgrade process is very effective and you will rarely want to use the manual method. However, there are situations where you need to manually upgrade your WordPress site to fi a problem.
The following steps will help address this problem:

  • 1. Back up your WordPress website and deactivate all plugins.
  • 2. Navigate to the WordPress Update page by clicking the Please Update Now link. Click the Download button.
  • 3. Select a location to store the download package and click Save.
  • 4. Connect to your web server via FTP.
  • 5. Delete all the files and folders in your existing WordPress installation directory except the following:

/wp-content folder



  • 6. Upload the contents of the /wordpress folder — not the folder itself — to your web server.
  • 7. Navigate to the following URL on your website:

At this point, your database still needs to be upgraded to the latest version; so instead of seeing your website on your domain, you see a message telling you that a database upgrade is required.

  • 8. Click the Upgrade WordPress Database button.

This action causes WordPress to initiate the upgrade of the MySQL database associated with your website. When the database upgrade is complete, the page refreshes and displays a message saying so.

  • 9. Click the Continue button.

Your browser loads the WordPress login page. The upgrade is now complete, and you can continue using WordPress with all of its newly upgraded features.

This is an exercise you will need to do room time to time in the course of using WordPress. If you choose to upgrade regularly, you will have to do this more regularly and at least three times yearly.

WordPress itself adds new features regularly and will also patch security lapses and so upgrades will occur always.

Also read: SEO Effects of Changing a WordPress Theme

That's the much we can take based on our experience. Do let us now if there be any error that is commonly experienced with WordPress users and you will want added.

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Comments (1)

  • Jayesh Kukreja
    Jayesh Kukreja

    Nice post brother, I have been surfing online more than 3 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty worth enough for me. In my view, if all web owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the internet will be much more useful than ever before. There is certainly a lot to know about this issue. I love all of the points you’ve made. I am sure this post has touched all the internet viewers, its really really good post on building up new weblog.

    September 13, 2020 at 04:00 AM

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