Common WordPress errors

What are common WordPress errors?

Recently I wrote a comparison between WordPress and a website builder called Squarespace. I also tested other website builders, but for this post let’s focus on WordPress. If you liked more it advantages over disadvantages (which I will mention briefly in this post), then you may want to proceed with the installation of WordPress. Being a smart website owner as you are, there’s a good chance you want to research in advance what are some of the common WordPress errors you can expect, and how to handle them. This is what this post is about.

What are WordPress advantages?

One of the WordPress advantages is the size of the community. There are countless developers building websites in WordPress, fixing issues, building plugins and creating the newest latest version. Not only that, but there are equal in numbers of designers creating WordPress themes, graphics, icons and making everything mobile-ready. Thirdly, apart from developers and designers, even us marketers are going above and beyond to create content in blog posts, videos, infographics to help you overcome issues like common WordPress errors. So, as you see, even in a major meltdown, you certainly have someone to turn to.

When it comes to updating the WordPress website, the dashboard itself is very straightforward. What is changing are the various theme builders that are built by various developers. They are becoming more and more advanced. Unfortunately, this is a separate topic I hope to cover in the future.

What are the common WordPress errors?

Common WordPress errors

Common WordPress errors

Instead of focusing on the disadvantages of WordPress, I will rather focus on some common WordPress errors, and how you can handle them. This way, you will get a glimpse of some disadvantages, and how to resolve some common WordPress errors. I’ve been building websites for my clients (in my past company) and for myself for nearly a decade and sooner or later you are going to encounter one of those. Truth be told, some of them are not very common, but some of them are critical.

Five most common WordPress errors are: Internal Server Error, Error establishing a database, White screen of death, Password retrieval not working, and memory exhausted error.

Check your .htaccess file

Here’s one thing that my sys-admin has just informed me of. I just purchased a website and we are moving it to one of my servers. So he reminded me to double check if the right .htaccess file is in place. The .htaccess file is a very important file that in case of WordPress is generated automatically by WordPress. So depending on the type of the website transfer you are doing you need to be careful of this file. With some web hosting providers this file is hidden (so that the newbie user doesn’t mess something up). Because it is hidden if you might have missed it during the transfer (unless you know what you are doing).

Also otherwise corrupt .htaccess files can lead to Internal Server Errors, 403 error and a 404 error. Speaking of, an Internal Server Error is a serious error that is outside the scope of this article. In case you encounter an Internal Server Error (which unfortunately is a common WordPress error), I recommend you read this explanation by 000webhost.

Changing the WordPress password

I understand this isn’t a serious error as the one like error establishing a database (we’ll get to that one in a second), but it’s the one I have mostly encountered! If you are handling websites for many clients, or if like me you own a lot of websites on WordPress, sooner or later you are going to get a “wrong password” notification. Without being able to login to the website, or blog, you won’t be able to proceed, and voila. You have a challenge ahead of you. Again, without going through the grueling details, I have this page bookmarked (video and screenshots included).

Those instructions will come extremely handy if the reset password isn’t delivering the new password to your inbox, or if you forgot the admin username. It will lead you how to change your password through PHPMyAdmin. It is a bit of an advanced procedure because you are effectively changing the username or password inside the MySQL database. But fear not, it’s a few step process that is executed in under 5 minutes. Log in to PHPMyAdmin, find the right database, click edit, switch to MD5, enter new password, save and exit.

Error establishing a database

I am not going to lie, I don’t handle this one myself. My team of people do this for me. You can have this privilege yourself! If you are hosting your WordPress website with a respectable web hosting company, you can just open a support ticket and they will take care of it. The dreaded “error establishing a database” is a common WordPress error and it impacts your website greatly. As a matter a fact, the website doesn’t load at all, you just get the message (screenshot below).

One of common WordPress errors - Error establishing a database connection

One of the common WordPress errors – Error establishing a database connection

If for some reason you want to tackle this issue yourself because you want to learn the process. Again, this process is outside the scope of this article. Before I point you in a direction, be prepared to work on the wp-config.php file, checking if the database is corrupted and properly loading from the server. Thing is, the error could be as simple as the wrong credentials (username and password), or as serious as a corrupt database or server inactivity.

I wouldn’t recommend tackling this by yourself, but 000webhost has a nice long 2400 word article focusing just on that one single WordPress error. So if you want to dig into that, be my guest. Like I said, it’s definitely outside the scope of my article. For the article itself, click here.

Memory and WordPress

Memory problems are a common WordPress error

Memory problems are a common WordPress error

There are several memory issues that can spark up when you are using WordPress. One of them is with the size of the file you are trying to upload. Naturally, you want to make your website rich with great content. Sometimes that leads to uploading beautiful graphics, photos, infographics. Most of the times, these are “heavier” than the default 2MB. Even without going into the details of fixing that one, this is becoming a rather big article.

Also, this isn’t the only memory error that can occur! In some cases, a WordPress plugin can “spend” all the default memory limit! In that case you need to increase your PHP memory limit. It is best that you leave this to an experienced developer (although a simple “define(‘WP_MEMORY_LIMIT’, ’64M’);” might do the trick) or your web hosting provider.

Anyway, I hope this post has helped you in making a decision to stick to the choice of building a website with WordPress. As you can see the common WordPress issues aren’t that difficult to master. In most cases there are comprehensive explanations that resolve the issue. Other times, you can simply reach out to your web hosting provider or one of many freelance WordPress developers that are out there.


Goran Duskic has been the Founder and CEO of WhoAPI Inc. since 2011, a company that specializes in developing APIs, including the well-known Whois API. He started his career in internet entrepreneurship in 2006 and has co-founded several online businesses, including a web hosting company that he later sold. Goran's work primarily involves creating practical API solutions to meet technological needs.

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