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WordPress: How to Fix Common Server and Connection Errors

As you build your WordPress site, you may encounter an error or an error message. We have identified several common errors and provided an overview on how to address these issues. If you have any difficulties troubleshooting your WordPress website, feel free to contact us and we would be happy to help.

Using WP_DEBUG to Make Troubleshooting Easier

WordPress is equipped with WP_DEBUG giving youa detailed description of what caused the error rather. WP_DEBUG is turned off by default and must be enabled by changing a variable inside of your wp-config.php file. Learn more about WP_DEBUG by clicking on the following links:

Important: WP_DEBUG requires additional resources when turned on and could slow down your site. We recommend that you only turn WP_DEBUG on when you are developing or troubleshooting your website.

Blank Page (White Screen of Death)

The name of this error was coined by the WordPress community. You see it when your website shows nothing but a blank white screen with no errors or messages.

  • Default Pages May Need to Be Reconfigured
    By default, whenever a user visits the location where you website is stored, it will look for a "homepage file" as a starting point to display the rest of the website. If multiple "homepage files" exist, a priority system is used. WordPress uses "index.php", which by default has a lower display priority than "index.html". Look in your main WordPress folder for any unwanted "homepage files" and delete or rename them. If you want to keep them instead of deleting or renaming them, you will need to use the scripting options on your account to change the display priority.

  • A Plugin May be Causing Issues
    To identify which plugin(s) might be causing the issue, deactivate all of your plugins then reactivate them one by one. Once you identify a problematic plugin, you may need to uninstall and reinstall the plugin, contact the developers for the plugin and report a bug, or simply find a different plugin to use.

  • Your Active Theme May be Causing Issues
    If you recently activated a new theme and the website goes down immediately after, activate a different theme (such as the default WordPress theme). You may need to uninstall and reinstall the theme, contact the developers for the theme and report a bug, or simply find a different theme to use. Deactivating a theme will cause your website to use the default WordPress theme.

  • Other Factors May be Causing Issues
    If you have deactivated all plugins and reverted to the WordPress default theme (assuming you have not made any custom modification to the default theme) and you still see a white screen, try out the other troubleshooting methods found on this page.

You can find additional information regarding this error by going to WordPress.org.

Internal Server Error

While the name of the error may suggest that FatCow's servers are causing the issue, there are actually a lot of other reasons that could be causing this error to occur.

  • The .htaccess File is Corrupt
    Various things can cause your .htaccess file to become corrupt (such as modifying it manually). You can temporarily rename your .htaccess file to see if this is causing the issue. If so, you can keep your old .htaccess file renamed and generate a new .htaccess file by re-saving your Permalinks.

  • A Plugin May be Causing Issues
    To identify which plugin(s) might be causing the issue, deactivate all of your plugins then reactivate them one by one. Once you identify a problematic plugin, you may need to uninstall and reinstall the plugin, contact the developers for the plugin and report a bug, or simply find a different plugin to use. Click here to learn how to deactivate all plugins simultaneously without using the WordPress Dashboard.

  • Your Active Theme May be Causing Issues
    If you recently activated a new theme and the website goes down immediately after, activate a different theme (such as the default WordPress theme). You may need to uninstall and reinstall the theme, contact the developers for the theme and report a bug, or simply find a different theme to use. Deactivating a theme will cause your website to use the default WordPress theme.

  • The wp-admin and wp-includes Folders May Need to be Reinstalled
    The wp-admin and wp-includes folders contain the files that run the WordPress Dashboard and other administrative functions. It is possible that you may need to simply reinstall these folders. The "reinstallation" process is simpler than you might expect:
    1. Make a backup of your WordPress website.
    2. Download a fresh copy of WordPress from WordPress.org.
    3. Extract the "wp-admin" and "wp-includes" folders from the compressed installation file. This can be done using decompression software (such as 7zip, WinRar or Winzip) on your personal computer, or by using Archive Gateway after uploading the installation file via FTP.
    4. Upload the "wp-admin" and "wp-includes" folders (and all of their contents) via FTP. Be sure to save over your old "wp-admin" and "wp-includes" folders in the process.

You can find additional information regarding this error by going to WordPress.org.

Error Establishing a Database Connection

Just as the error suggests your WordPress site is experiencing difficulties connecting to your database. The issue is normally caused by one of the following reasons, though more complex issues may have multiple reasons.

  • The wp-config.php database login credentials do not match the database login credentials.
    Confirm that your credentials match. If they do not, your WordPress PHP files will not be able to connect to your database and your website will not display. The most common reason this issue occurs is the database password is manually changed but the wp-config.php file was not. To learn how to update the wp-config.php file, click here (make sure you keep spaces and other punctuation/code marks as indicated by WordPress.org).

  • The Database Is Corrupted
    A corrupted database means that its content has been changed in a way that makes the database unusuable. Faulty WordPress plugins or themes can sometimes corrupt the database making them either partially or completely corrupted. The recommended course of action is to restore a backup version of the corrupt database. To learn how to backup and restore databases, click here.

  • The Database Does Not Exist
    If you drop or delete your database from your hosting account, your WordPress website will have nothing to connect to. To learn how to backup and restore databases, click here. If you have accidentally deleted your database and you do not have a backup, please contact us to see if we can restore it for a small professional service fee.

  • The Database is Unresponsive
    If the database servers associated with your hosting account may be having intermittent issues. At FatCow, every effort is taken to prevent this from occuring. If an issue does occur, it will be resolved as quickly as possible.

You can find additional information regarding this error by going to WordPress.org.

PHP Memory Limit Exceeded

Your website, theme, and plugins require PHP memory in order to run properly. If your combined resources as consuming too much memory your website may produce a partially loaded page. Fortunately there is a way to increase the amount of memory that your WordPress website allows itself to use. Visit WordPress.org to find out how to increase PHP memory limits.

MySQL Query Limit Exceeded

A "query" refers to a single "question" being asked of the database to retrieve information (such as retrieving the contents of a blog post or confirming login credentials). Because MySQL Queries consume server processing power FatCow limits the number of queries that any single shared hosting user can perform within an hour. This limitation protects other users on the shared hosting environment from suffering negative effects caused by a single user utilizing too much processing power.

  • What Are the Query Limits?
    Query limits are capped at 75,000 queries per hour per database for a typical shared hosting account. WP Essential customers are capped at 150,000 queries per hour per database because they are on a platform specifically designed and optimized to handle WordPress sites. These limits are more than sufficient to handle most WordPress websites.

  • How Can I Prevent Myself from Reaching the Query Limits?
    The best way to limit your query usage is to activate the W3 Total Cache plugin, which comes standard on all new WordPress installations. This plugin drastically reduces your query usage and helps your WordPress site load faster. Learn more about W3 Total Cache by clicking here.

  • What Can I Do If I Accidentally Exceeded my Query Limits?
    You will need to wait until your query limits reset (occurs once every hour) before your website will display normally. We highly recommend activating W3 Total Cache if you have not already. You can also consider upgrading to a WP Essential package to increase the maximum number of queries allowed for your account.

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