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Most Common WordPress Issues and How to Solve Them

Most Common WordPress Issues and How to Solve Them 

As famous, powerful, and flexible as WordPress is, it’s far from flawless. For various reasons, from user-side errors to malware in your computer, issues might pop up occasionally – ones with or without an explanation or error code. Most such issues are no cause for panic, as you can resolve them with little effort. However, knowing where to look and how to approach each issue is half the battle. So, let us explore some of the most common WordPress issues and how to solve them.

Backing Up WordPress

First and foremost, before and after you run into any WordPress-related issues, it’s vital that you perform backups. That will allow your website to remain intact as you troubleshoot, reverting to a healthy and functional state as needed.

Manual backups aside, there are three main ways to make hassle-free backups:

  • Your web host may do so for you, depending on your plan. Some, like HostArmada and DreamHost, offer free offsite backups even on cheaper plans.
  • WordPress agencies will typically offer this service as well. Experts from say it is a great choice, as they also provide maintenance services.
  • Many WordPress plugins also offer this option, free or for a fee.

In all cases, always remember to thoroughly check for the exact features and services you’re getting beforehand.

As regards WordPress backup plugins specifically, the WordPress plugin library offers an array of plugins for this purpose. Among them, you may consider the following:

  • Updraft Plus
  • Duplicator
  • VaultPress
  • JetpackBackups
  • WP Time Capsule


Tools for troubleshooting WordPress Issues

Finally, before you start troubleshooting, you will need to have some tools in hand. You may not need to use them for every case, but having them at your disposal can help.

First, you will need a text editor. Notepad++ is the best choice here, but others can also work.

Second, you will need a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) client. FileZilla is rightly famous for this purpose, but others can also suffice. In all cases, FTP clients will differ visually but always serve the same function; establishing a connection to the server and manipulating files without going through the admin panel.

A typical FTP interface will look like this:

The interface of a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) client



Most Common WordPress Issues And How To Solve Them

With your groundwork and tools, let’s delve into the five most common WordPress issues.


#1 White Screen of Death

The white screen of death is likely the worst offender, in that it offers no explanations whatsoever. If you stumble across it, you’ll get just what the name suggests and nothing else:

A blank web page illustrating the “white screen of death” WordPress error


Worse yet, there are a few different causes of this issue. As such, start by identifying the scale of the problem:

  • If other websites on your hosting plan are experiencing it, too, the issue lies with your hosting service company. There’s likely nothing you can do in this case except contact them.
  • You should investigate further if it’s isolated to one site or specific pages.

In the latter case, the most common offenders are themes, plugins, and files.

Themes and plugins

First, you can start there if you have access to your WordPress admin area. Deactivate all of your plugins, and reactivate them one by one to identify the culprit:

A screenshot of a WordPress dashboard on the plugins page

Alt. tag: A screenshot of a WordPress dashboard on the plugins page.

If you do not, you can still do so via FTP:

  • Navigate to your wp-content/plugins
  • Rename it to something else – this should fix the white screen of death.
  • If it does, revert the folder’s name, and rename the plugins within it one by one to identify the one that causes the issue.

A screenshot of a WordPress dashboard on the plugins page

If this does not fix the issue, repeat the process for themes. If you have access, reverse to a default WordPress theme from your admin area. If you don’t, use your FTP client to navigate to your wp-content/themes folder and repeat the above renaming process.


Individual files also cause many common WordPress issues, and this one is no exception. You may try the following steps if a faulty file is a problem.

  • First, you can enable debugging to be able to examine error logs.

To do so, access wp-config.php through your FTP client and add the following lines:

define( 'WP_DEBUG', true );

define( 'WP_DEBUG_LOG', 'wp-content/wp-errors.log' );

define( 'WP_DEBUG_DISPLAY', false );

Once you do, examining error logs should reveal fatal errors, along with file paths and other details.

  • Another standard solution may be increasing your PHP memory limit, whether you locate the faulty file or not.

To do so, access wp-config.php again and locate the line:

“That’s all, stop editing! Happy blogging”.

Right after it, add the following line:

define('WP_MEMORY_LIMIT', '64M')

That will increase your PHP memory limit to 64MB. You can also try 128 or 256MB if need be.

  • Then, you can deactivate your plugins and revert to a default theme if you haven’t yet done so.

Refer to the above instructions for this step.

  • Finally, you’ll need to contact your web host and request assistance if all else fails.

If all of the above fails, you’ll likely need professional help. It’s not unlikely that the issue might be on your web host’s end, too.


#2 Internal Server Error

Like the white screen of death, an internal server error can also occur for several reasons. Just like it, it also doesn’t offer much information to help you pinpoint the problem. For these two reasons, it’s among the most common WordPress issues users struggle with.

A web page showing an Internal Server Error

Thankfully, a few solutions can also help with this issue. Namely:

  • Increasing the PHP memory limit
  • Deactivating all plugins
  • Seeking your host’s help if all else fails

There are two additional steps fit for this specific problem worth outlining.

Checking your .htaccess file

This file contains necessary directives and may be corrupted. If it is, it can very well cause internal server errors as the site structure and links get corrupted.

To check this, you can:

  • Access your server via your FTP client
  • Navigate to your root directory
  • Locate your .htaccess file and rename it to something else
  • Reload your site to see if the issue persists

If this fixes the issue, log into your site and navigate to Settings>Permalinks. Save your changes, and a new .htaccess file will be created.

Remember that .htaccess is hidden by default, so you may need to have your FTP client force show hidden files:

A screenshot of an FTP client, where the user enables the option to force show hidden files.

Re-uploading core WordPress files

Alternatively, it could be that core WordPress files have been corrupted. If that’s the case, the solution is relatively more straightforward:

  • Download the latest version of WordPress from org
  • Open your FTP client
  • Replace your installation’s wp-admin and wp-includes folders with the new files you downloaded

That will not alter your other files in any way.


#3 403 Forbidden

Similarly, 403 Forbidden errors are among the most common WordPress issues and can occur for several reasons. Just like the above, too, it usually doesn’t offer much information to help with troubleshooting:

Thankfully, it also shares another similarity with the issues above. That is, a few different likely solutions:

  • Deactivating all plugins
  • Refreshing your .htaccess file
  • Seeking your host’s help if all else fails

Another possible cause of this issue is incorrect file permissions. In this case, you will need to follow a slightly lengthier process.

First, use your FTP client to navigate your WordPress installation’s root folder. Right-click it and select “File Permissions” from the menu. When you do, you’ll be presented with a dialog box like this:

A web page showing a 403 Forbidden WordPress error


Here, set the root folder’s permission to either 744 or 755. That is the default numeric value for folder permissions, whereas 644 or 640 are the default ones for file permissions. Once you do:

  • Check the box next to “Recurse into subdirectories.”
  • Check the “Apply to directories only” option
  • Click “OK”

If this doesn’t fix the issue, an individual file’s permissions may be causing it. Repeat the process above for individual files, using 644 or 640 numeric values.


#4 404 Not Found

A prevalent issue, too, 404 Not Found may be among the most notorious problems across the web. It’s also one of the most common WordPress issues, and it, too, does not explain much:


Faulty permalink settings typically cause this error. As such, unless you’re using some link-related plugin, you can:

  • Access your admin panel,
  • navigate to Settings>Permalinks, and
  • select “Save Changes.”

That will flush the rewrite rules for your site and usually solve the 404 error.

If it doesn’t work, you can also update your .htaccess file manually:

  • Use your FTP client to locate your .htaccess file
  • Change its permissions to 666, making it writeable
  • Repeat the process above in your admin panel
  • Revert your .htaccess file’s permissions to the original value

If you’re using a link-related plugin, start by disabling it to identify the problem. Then, depending on your plugin, reinstate its settings one by one as you ensure they don’t reproduce the problem.

Finally, you may also use WordPress plugins like All In One SEO (AIOSEO), which can fix such errors for you:

A screenshot of the All In One SEO plugin on the 404 logs page

However, that step will differ among different plugins, so we encourage you to follow your plugin’s documentation and instructions.


#5 413 Request Entity Too Large

Finally, you may encounter 413 Request Entity Too Large. This one also doesn’t provide much of an explanation:

An example web page showing a 413 Request Entity Too Large WordPress error

However, the name gives it away. 413 means your files, themes, or plugins are too large to be uploaded. That is not one of the most common WordPress issues, but it’s common enough to warrant a mention.

Beyond contacting your web host about it, you can solve this in several ways.

  • Change your maximum file size and execution time manually.

You can do so by locating your functions.php file via your FTP client. Use your text editor of choice to add the following lines of code to it:

@ini_set( 'upload_max_size', '64M' ); 

@ini_set( 'post_max_size', '64M'); 

@ini_set( 'max_execution_time', '300' );

Conversely, you can add the following lines of code to your .htaccess file:

php_value upload_max_filesize 64M; 

php_value post_max_size 64M; 

php_value max_execution_time 300; 

php_value max_input_time 300;
  • Upload the file causing the problem manually.

If you encounter an error when uploading a specific file, you can use your FTP client to upload it manually.


In closing

To sum up, some of the most common WordPress issues may not offer much to help solve them. There’s no reason to panic, however, as we’ve outlined above. Similar practices can resolve most such problems, like refreshing your .htaccess file and deactivating themes and plugins. Others require more specialized approaches, especially if they’re due to some uncommon cause. Finally, if all else fails, your web hosts should be able to help you resolve the issue at hand.


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