Common WordPress errors and how to fix them

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Known for its user-friendly interface, WordPress (WP) is being widely used to build websites. However, while accessing the WordPress site, users may come across some common issues that might leave them scratching their heads. Downtime, missing resources, or unsuccessful updates are some of the common issues that can force users to leave the site, which is likely to negatively impact your brand reputation. 

To avoid such pitfalls, it is recommended for businesses to seek the assistance of website development experts to ensure that nothing goes wrong. For this, it is better to reach out to a WordPress development company that can handle site development with perfection.

Through this post, you will have a better understanding of WordPress site errors. Read on to know the most common WordPress error messages with their causes, prevention, and troubleshooting steps.

Common WordPress error messages: Causes, troubleshooting, and prevention

1. White screen of death (WSOD)

As its name implies, it presents a blank, featureless screen. There will be no error message or other clues on the screen making it difficult to know what to do next. This phenomenon can be alarming and frustrating, especially for website administrators and users. The WSOD can affect both the front end (what visitors see) and the back end (the administrative dashboard) of a website.

Image Source – Hostgator, 2020

Causes:

It is essential to have a thorough understanding of the potential causes to effectively manage such WP errors. Some of these causes are:

  • Plugin or theme conflicts
  • Memory exhaustion
  • PHP errors

Troubleshooting:

With systematic troubleshooting and a cautious approach, you can identify the problem and arrive at a solution. In case you do not have the time or lack the knowledge to fix this issue, you can hire a WordPress developer to do it for you.

Some of the troubleshooting steps are:

  • Deactivating a plugin
  • Switch to a default theme
  • Increase PHP memory limit
  • Check error messages
  • Enable WordPress debug mode

Prevention:

To prevent this WordPress error from occurring, you can consider taking the following measures:

  • Regular backups
  • Update plugins and themes
  • Quality control
  • Follow coding standards and a consistent coding style

2. Error establishing a database connection

This WordPress error suggests that your site cannot connect to the database. It can render your website inaccessible. When it occurs, your users won’t be able to view your content or access the dashboard. However, understanding the causes and solutions can help you quickly resolve the problem. 

Image Source – thrivewp.com, 2023

Causes:

There can be different reasons behind the occurrence of this WP error. 

  • Incorrect database credentials
  • Corrupted databases
  • Server issues
  • Corrupted core files

Troubleshooting:

The common solutions discussed below can efficiently fix this WordPress database error. To be on the safe side, it is recommended to create a backup of your site before you start troubleshooting this WP error.

  • Ensure the domain is pointing to the service provider
  • Check the database server to make sure the server is running
  • Check login credentials to ensure entered username and password are correct
  • Fix the corrupted files
  • Repair the WordPress database
  • Create a new database

Prevention:

Any changes to your website should be done carefully. Before making any significant changes to your site’s configuration, it is always wise to have a backup.

  • Ensure your database credentials are kept secure
  • Regularly update your plugins, themes, and WP core to avoid compatibility issues

3. 404 not found

It is another common WordPress error. This HTTP response status code indicates that the server could not find the requested resource, typically a web page or a file. It indicates that the server received your request but was unable to locate the requested content. 

Image Source – Dreamhost, 2021

Causes:

This can happen for various reasons and understanding the causes can help you troubleshoot the issues effectively. 

  • Incorrect URL
  • Deleted or moved content
  • Broken links
  • Rewritten rules
  • Incorrect directory/folder structure
  • Server misconfigurations

Troubleshoot

Although hiring a WordPress developer will be the best course of action to troubleshoot during such scenarios, you can still attempt to resolve this WordPress error by implementing the following:

  • Check the URL to make sure it is typed correctly. You can also try accessing the page from a different browser.
  • Clear browser cache to remove any old or outdated copies of pages that may be causing 404 page not found errors.
  • Check the permalink structure to ensure it is set up correctly.
  • Update redirects
  • Check server logs
  • Test different browsers

Prevention:

Preventing this error involves a combination of good practices, proactive measures, and careful management. Here are some steps that you can take to prevent the “404 Not Found” error.

  • Maintain and monitor your website regularly
  • Use proper redirects
  • Check for broken links
  • Backup your site regularly
  • Update plugins and themes
  • Test links after content updates

4. Maximum execution time exceeded

Encountering this WordPress error while updating a plugin or theme indicates that the PHP script in WordPress is taking too long to run. It has exceeded the maximum time limit set by the hosting server. 

By default, it is set to 30 seconds, which is enough for all scripts to run in normal conditions. 

Image source – WPBeginner, 2023

Causes:

This can happen due to various reasons. Let’s understand what can cause exceeding the maximum time limit.

  • Complex database queries
  • Inefficient code
  • Large media files
  • Plugin or theme conflicts
  • Infinite loops
  • Server load
  • External API calls
  • Background processes
  • Unoptimized code libraries

Troubleshooting:

Troubleshooting this WP error involves a systematic approach to identifying the root cause and implementing the required solutions.

Let’s look at how to fix the “Fatal Error: Maximum Execution Time Exceeded” WordPress error. 

  • Identify the trigger
  • Enable debugging
  • Check error logs
  • Deactivate plugins and themes
  • Increase execution time
  • Optimize code
  • Use caching
  • Monitor server load

Prevention:

To mitigate the occurrence of WordPress’s “Maximum Execution Time Exceeded” error, there is a need to adopt effective strategies. Some of these are presented below.

  • Optimize code and queries
  • Choose quality plugins and themes
  • Optimize your content (like images and media) to reduce page loading time
  • Limit external requests
  • Perform batch processing
  • Monitor server health
  • Minimize redirects
  • Use optimal plugins

5. Your connection is not private

To combat the bad actors from intercepting the information shared between visitors and websites, browsers now require sites to use secure socket layer (SSL) certificates to encrypt data. When browsers load a website without an SSL certificate, it will render a message ”Your connection is not private.” This WordPress error occurs when your browser is unable to validate the site’s SSL certificate.

Image source – WPBeginner, 2022

Causes:

The possible causes behind the occurrence of this WordPress error are:

  • Expired SSL certificate
  • Domain mismatch
  • Self-signed certificate
  • Misconfigured SSL certificate

Troubleshooting:

You can perform the following steps to fix the “Your connection is not private” error in WordPress.

  • Force reload a page
  • Check with multiple browsers
  • Clear your browser cache
  • Turn off Antivirus and VPN applications
  • Check your SSL certificate expiration date
  • Test your SSL server
  • Check the certificate domain name

Prevention:

To ensure a secure browsing experience and prevent the occurrence of this website error, take the following proactive steps:

  • Keep SSL certificates updated
  • Use valid SSL certificates
  • Enable automatic HTTPS
  • Regularly update your website
  • Use security plugins
  • Implement two-factor authentication
  • Perform regular security audits

Conclusion

WordPress sites rarely experience issues, but when they do, it can be frustrating. Most issues can be fixed by you, but sometimes you may require technical expertise to resolve them. In such cases, you can opt for hiring a WordPress developer, who will know the ins and outs of resolving such errors.

In short, when you encounter a WordPress error, try to identify the cause, follow the troubleshooting steps, and take preventive measures so that you don’t have to worry about it again.