There’s nothing more frustrating than encountering WordPress errors on your website. Looking for ways to fix them? Let’s sort it out and see how you can get your site working again.
As stable as WordPress is most of the time, sometimes things happen and your website – or maybe just a part of it stops working.
Luckily though, most WordPress sites experience the same types of errors, so it’s usually pretty easy to diagnose the most common errors.
We’ve created a guide to help you fix some of the most common WordPress errors that you’re most likely to encounter.
Here are the specific issues that we’ll cover:
- most common WordPress errors explained;
- solutions that can help you fix these errors;
- and much more.
Table of contents
- What are the most common WordPress errors?
- 400 Bad Request
- 403 Forbidden Error
- 404 Page Not Found
- 500 Internal Server Error
- Error establishing a database connection
- Connection Timed Out Error
- White Screen Of Death in WordPress
- Parse/Syntax Error in WordPress
- A final word
What are the most common WordPress errors?
Before we get into the most common WordPress errors and how to fix them, you should first know what they are.
All the numbers you see when getting an error are in fact HTTP status codes. There are 5 different classes of such codes, depending on their significance.
Errors numbered from 400 to 499 are errors that occur due to a miscommunication between your website’s server and the user’s web browser.
Errors that are between 500 and 599 are server errors that can have several causes.
Other types of errors that can occur are PHP errors, WordPress file errors, web browser errors, security errors and more.
Here are the most common ones you can run into.
400 Bad Request
This error occurs when your server experiences certain problems. The 400 can have several causes: there is a typo in an URL, you used characters that are not allowed, you are trying to upload a large file, there’s an issue with the browser caches/cookies and more. Here’s how it looks:
We’ll give you the most common solutions to fix this error.
Check the page you are trying to access, to see if the URL is correct and there aren’t any typos.
Clear the browser cookies and cache (for instance, in Google Chrome you go to More Tools – Clear Browsing Data). Make sure the boxes with “Cookies and other site data”, “Cached images and files” are checked.
This is where you have to go:
How to clear the caches in Safari
If you are using Safari, go to History in the top menu and click on the Clear History option, in the drop-down menu. This will delete the cache, cookies, and entire history.
Here’s where you find the option:
If you only want to clear the browser cache, you have to go Preferences – Advanced – Show Develop Menu. Then click on Develop and after that on Empty Caches. It should look like in the screenshots below:
Try to deactivate any browser extensions you might have installed. They sometimes affect the cookies. In Chrome, go to More Tools – Extensions.
You’ll find all your extensions there. Don’t necessarily remove them, just switch the blue button to white, to deactivate them. You can test them one by one, to see which one is to blame.
This is where you can find your Chrome extensions:
403 Forbidden Error
This error occurs when your access to a certain page is denied because you don’t have the proper permissions.
The 403 is displayed in several variations, such as: “you don’t have permission to access / on this server”, “access denied”, “you are not allowed to access this address”, “it appears you don’t have permission to access this page”. Here’s an example of how the error looks like:
The most common causes of the 403 error are:
Your files don’t have the right permission codes
WordPress has permissions for each file in its database; they can be Read, Write or Execute file permissions. If they get tampered with, you get a 403 error.
You can change the file permissions in WordPress from the cPanel, via FTP (File Transfer Protocol) or with the help of a plugin. This is a complex task so it is best to check out WordPress’s article on the topic, for detailed guidance. It will show you all the methods you can use, with a thorough explanation.
If you want to use a plugin to manage permissions, one of the best you can try is All in One WP Security & Firewall.
Go to your Dashboard – Plugins – Add New, search for the plugin by typing in its name, install and activate it. After that, you have to follow the instructions that come with the plugin. They are straightforward so you shouldn’t have any problems.
You might have a problem with the .htaccess file
Another cause of the 403 error could be a problem in your .htaccess file. It is short for “HyperText Access” and it’s a configuration file that is found in the root folder of your WordPress website. This file is usually included in the installation, although in some cases, you have to create it yourself.
The role of this file is to control your website using specific rules. It enables and disables functions, grants or bans access to certain parts of your website and more. In a nutshell, depending on the rules you create, it modifies the behavior of your website.
The best solution, in this case, is to make WordPress generate a new .htaccess file. One way to do that is via FTP (you can use FileZilla, which is free and easy to use).
Once you install FileZilla and connect to the server, go to the root folder, search for the .htaccess file and delete it. However, make sure and save a copy of the file on your computer as a backup, just in case.
After that, go to your WordPress dashboard, in the left sidebar, and click on Settings – Permalinks. Simply hit the Save Changes without making any changes. This way, WordPress will generate a new .htaccess file.
There might be a problem with your plugins
If neither of these solutions will fix the 403 error, you might need to deactivate and then activate your plugins. A bug or a compatibility issue with a plugin can cause this error. Go to your Dashboard – Plugins – Installed Plugins.
Here’s how you deactivate plugins from the WordPress dashboard:
Deactivate the plugins and then activate them again. Once you do that, try to access the website again. The error should be fixed.
An easier approach to deactivating the plugins
However, deactivating and reactivating the plugins one by one can be time-consuming. Luckily though, there are dedicated tools nowadays that can do the work for you. Health Check & Troubleshooting is a great plugin to consider. It can run checks and troubleshoot your website without you manually disabling all the plugins.
The plugin comes with straightforward instructions and you can also check this article for more comprehensive information on how to use the tool.
404 Page Not Found
This is another common error that occurs when you try to access a page and you get the message: “page not found”.
You can see this error in several variations: “this page cannot be found”, “HTTP error 404”, “404 not found”, “the requested URL was not found on this server” and others.
While this error is not a fatal one for your website, you shouldn’t ignore it, because it can affect your SEO. If Google can’t index the content of your site, that will impact your ranking.
Most commonly, this error is the result of a broken link. For instance, you made some changes to some content and you changed the slug, but you didn’t set up a redirect.
In most cases, this error can be fixed from Permalinks in the WordPress dashboard. You simply go to the left sidebar menu in the Dashboard and click on Permalinks. You don’t need to actually modify anything, just hit the Save Changes button.
This should update the redirect code contained in your .htaccess file and that should hopefully fix the issue.
In addition, you can also use dedicated tools to check for broken links. Here’s one of the best plugins you can use. It’s free and user-friendly.
Despite your efforts, 404 errors might still occur on your website. Therefore, you might want to consider Colorlib 404 Customizer. This plugin is free and helps you create custom and user-friendly 404 pages for your site. It is packed with useful features, so do check it out.
500 Internal Server Error
This is a tricky WordPress error to fix, because it’s a generic message, thus a little bit hard to diagnose. The 500 error is a catch-all message for when something goes wrong with your server.
It can appear in several variations: “500 Internal Server Error”, “500 error”, “The website cannot display the page – HTTP 500”, “Currently unable to handle this request. HTTP ERROR 500” and others.
The error might look like this:
There are several possible causes for this error:
- a corrupted database;
- the browser cache;
- corrupted files when you install WordPress;
- a broken .htaccess file;
- PHP memory limit issues on the server and others.
Here are some tips to try and fix the error.
✔ Simply try to reload the page, after you wait a minute or so. Maybe the server is just too overloaded.
✔ Clear your web browser cache. The easiest way to do that is by clearing the History, regardless of the browser you are using. We’ve already shown you how to do that for Google Chrome and Safari, so follow the instructions above. It is pretty similar for other browsers too, such as Firefox, Internet Explorer, etc.
✔ Generate a new .htaccess file. Connect to your website via FTP and find your .htaccess file, in the root folder (just as we mentioned above, for the 403 error). Rename the file to something like .htaccess_old. After that, go to your Dashboard – Settings – Permalinks and click on Save Changes. This will generate a new .htaccess file.
✔ Deactivate your plugins and reactivate them one by one. Just like with the 403 error, this could solve the problem.
✔ Increase your website’s PHP memory limit. You can do so by adding a line of code to your wp-config.php file.
How to increase the PHP memory limit via FTP
If you are using an FTP client such as FileZilla, go to the root of the website and find the file.
For this specific action you also need a text editor, so you can edit the code in the file. If you are a Windows user, Notepad++ is a good option to consider, as it is free to download and easy to install.
Mac users usually prefer SublimeText.
Right-click on the wp-config.php file and choose View/Edit. Above the line with: “That’s all, stop editing! Happy blogging”, insert this code:
define ( ‘WP_MEMORY_LIMIT’, ‘64M’ ) ;
Here’s how you do it:
The code should look like this:
Save your changes when you are done and refresh your website.
Error establishing a database connection
Just as the name suggests, this error can occur due to a database connection error. Your database is the place where you find all the content, such as pages, posts, and other information.
Most of the times, this error is related to your wp-config.php file, which includes all the info about the database of your website.
Here’s the message you usually get with this error:
There are several reasons why this error occurs:
- Your database is corrupted;
- You are using incorrect database login credentials;
- There might be problems with your database server.
Since this is a more complex error to deal with, you can follow these detailed tips on how to fix it.
Connection Timed Out Error
If you use shared hosting for your website, you might have to deal with this error quite often. The Connection Timed Out error is usually caused by an overcrowded server, because you have to share hosting with a plethora of other websites. The server can’t handle all the requests and that’s when you get the error.
One solution to this problem is to increase the PHP memory limit and we’ve already shown you how to do that. You have to add this code to your wp-config.php file:
define ( ‘WP_MEMORY_LIMIT’, ‘64M’ ) ;
Another thing you can do is to deactivate your plugins and then reactivate them one by one. We’ve also explained how to do that, so check for the instructions above. The reason why it might work is that in some cases, one of your plugins might hog all the resources, while the rest of your website stalls out.
You should check out some of the best WordPress hosting solutions, to reduce the chance of getting this error.
White Screen Of Death in WordPress
If you are familiar with the popular BSoD (Blue Screen of Death) in Windows, this is pretty much the same thing, but for WordPress. It manifests through a blank screen when you try to access a website, just like in the image below:
The WSoD (White Screen of Death) can affect the front-end of your site, your WordPress admin or specific parts of the website. It can be a little hard to diagnose because it can be caused by both PHP and database problems. Here are some tips for figuring out what’s going wrong:
✔ Start with the easy solutions. If the error only appears on the front-end, but you can access the admin of your site, try to clear your browser’s cache.
✔ If that doesn’t work, make sure it’s not a plugin problem. Deactivate and reactivate the plugins one by one.
✔ If you can’t access the dashboard, deactivate the plugins through FTP. You can find all the WordPress plugins in public_html → wp-content → plugins. Search the folder of the plugin you want to deactivate, right-click on it, and Rename it. You can rename it any way you want, as this will disable it, because it will stop WordPress from seeing it.
✔ If you can access the dashboard but your users only see a blank screen instead of your website, it might be a theme issue. So if you remember installing a new WordPress theme, try to go back to the previous one.
✔ You can also try to go back to a default WordPress theme, such as Twenty Twenty for instance. The way you do it is by going to Dashboard – Appearance – Themes and hit Activate on the one you want. Here’s an example below:
✔ Increase the memory limit, by adding the code we already mentioned above. Go to the wp-config.php file and add this code:
define ( ‘WP_MEMORY_LIMIT’, ‘64M’ ) ;
✔ If everything fails, you might have to reinstall WordPress altogether.
Parse/Syntax Error in WordPress
The Parse error (syntax error) usually occurs when users make a mistake on their site.
For instance, you might add an incorrect line of code to your WordPress website. It can be something as insignificant as a typo, a missing comma and so on.
It can also occur when you install a new theme or plugin on your website. In this case, the best thing to do is deactivate the plugin/theme.
However, you’ll most likely be denied access to your dashboard, which means you have to disable them manually, via FTP. Log to your site via FileZilla and locate the Themes folder. In most cases, it should be in public_html, in the wp-content folder.
You open the themes folder and right-click on the theme you want to disable. You Rename the folder, so that WordPress can’t identity it anymore. This is where you have to go:
In other cases, you might need to correct a typo/error in a line of code you entered. A good thing about this error is that it shows you where the mistake is, right in the error window:
You just need to go and locate the folder where it’s at and correct the proper line of code.
There are two ways to fix this WordPress error: through the cPanel or via FTP.
How to fix the syntax error via cPanel
Log in to your cPanel and go to File Manager. Locate the file that contains the mistake, right click on it and then on Edit. Find the line of code you need to correct (the number is specified in the error), fix it and click on Save Changes. This is where you find the File Manager:
Find the file you need to modify and edit it:
How to fix the syntax error via FTP
In order to fix the error through FTP, you have to look at the error and see where the problem is. Connect to your site via FileZilla and find the specific file. We’ve already explained how to use FileZilla, so check out the steps above if you need to.
Once you locate the specific file, right-click on it and on View/Edit. This will open the code editor. If you can figure out what the issue is, go to the line with the problem and fix it. But if you are not sure, you can just delete the new line of code altogether.
Here’s how you do it:
Don’t forget to save and close the file when you are done. A message window will pop-up asking you if you want to upload the file to the server.
Click on “Yes”, refresh your website. This should fix the error.
A final word
So there you have it. These are just some of the most common WordPress errors you might encounter. Some of them have quick fixes, while others require deep digging to get solved.
WordPress errors can’t be ignored. There are various reasons why you can’t allow errors on your site:
- They affect the functionality of your website; errors deny you access from different parts of your site, so you won’t be able to properly manage it.
- It is bad for your reputation; reputable websites don’t constantly display errors when you try to access their pages; a buggy site conveys a lack of professionalism.
- Unfixed WordPress errors can decrease your sales; a dysfunctional website is bad for SEO and conversions. Users don’t have patience when they run into issues so you’ll end up losing visitors and customers.
We hope this article will help you fix the most common WordPress errors you might run into. If you found this information useful, you might also want to check our article on Most Common WordPress Login Issues and Fixes.