3 Most Common WordPress Issues and Their Solutions

WordPress is the most popular content management system because of its customizability and flexibility. And while it’s far from perfect, it’s generally easy to use.

WordPress errors can seem intimidating, but most are easy to fix. As long as you recognize the error and what caused it, you can perform basic troubleshooting independently.

This guide will show you how to diagnose and troubleshoot the three most common WordPress issues:
  • Internal server error
  • 403 forbidden error
  • White Screen of Death (WSoD)
Before you make any significant changes to your website, remember to create a backup of your files, so you have a copy if anything goes wrong.

After you’ve finished troubleshooting, clear your browser cache if the changes you made don’t reflect on your website.

1. Internal Server Error

An internal server error (also known as a 500 internal server error) is one of the most confusing errors a WordPress user can encounter. The error indicates something is wrong, but the server can’t identify what it is, so you’ll have to investigate it yourself.

What Causes the Issue

A corrupted .htaccess file is often the most common reason for an internal server error, but it can also be caused by theme or plugin issues.
How To Fix the Issue

When you encounter an internal server error, try accessing the website root through the file transfer protocol (FTP).

Rename the .htaccess file to something else (such as .htaccess-old). Try reloading the website to check if this fixes the problem. If you’ve fixed the problem, reset your permalinks by visiting Settings > Permalinks to create a new .htaccess file.

If you’ve tried the first solution and your website still encounters an error, the problem might be incompatible or outdated themes and plugins.

To fix your plugins, deactivate them via FTP. Then, reactivate them one by one until you find the error. Once you find the errant plugin, report it to the developer. You may also try reverting to the previous theme used when the website was still working.

If none of the above fixes work, try re-uploading the /wp-admin and /wp-includes folders by re-installing WordPress. Upload these using an FTP client and select Overwrite to replace the old files.

2. 403 Forbidden Error

A 403 forbidden error is shown to your website visitors if the server does not allow access to a specific page. There are different scenarios where you may encounter the error message:When you are denied access on wp-admin or your WordPress login page
During the WordPress installation process
When you visit any page on your WordPress website

What Causes the Issue

Any of the following may cause a 403 forbidden error:
  • Poorly configured security plugins
  • Corrupt .htaccess file
  • Your WordPress hosting company has made accidental changes to its server settings
  • Incorrect file permissions on your server, which can make your web server think you don’t have permission to access those files
How To Fix the Issue

To fix a 403 forbidden error, try:Checking your security plugins. These plugins can block several IP addresses if they think those addresses are malicious.
Downloading a backup copy of your .htaccess file. Delete the existing file from your server and try accessing your website. If your website is accessible, the .htaccess file is corrupt. Create a .htaccess file as detailed in the section on internal server errors.

Consulting your hosting provider. If you suspect that there are incorrect file permissions on your server, ask your hosting provider to check file permissions.

3. White Screen of Death

The White Screen of Death (WSoD) appears as a blank screen with no information and is usually a sign of PHP or database errors.

What Causes the Issue

The following are often the cause of a WSoD:Plugin compatibility issues
Problems with your WordPress theme, especially if you’ve activated a new theme or created a new website on WordPress
Missing or renamed theme directory. This error usually occurs when developers create a local development environment and clone the database, which may be missing or renamed.

How To Fix the Issue

If you’re experiencing a WSoD, try these troubleshooting methods:
  • Deactivating your plugins. Similar to the internal server error, try deactivating and reactivating plugins to find the error’s root cause.
  • Activating your theme. Log in to your WordPress dashboard or access your website via FTP and look for the /wp-content/themes/ folder. (If you did the latter, rename the folder of the active theme.)
  • Accessing the wp-login.php or /wp-admin/ as an administrator. You should be able to see a WordPress error message saying something like “The theme directory “{theme-name}” does not exist.”
  • If you see this error message, try switching the admin side themes, renaming your directory, or editing the “theme” and “stylesheet” records in wp_options.
Final Thoughts: Troubleshooting Guide for Most Common WordPress Issues

Although WordPress is generally stable, it’s normal to encounter errors sometimes. These issues may seem intimidating, but with this guide, you can have your website up and running in no time.

Most common WordPress errors can be prevented by updating your plugins and themes, checking your .htaccess files, and keeping your website secure.

The web hosting provider you choose also plays a significant role in keeping your website safe.
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