HowTo – AHHHH My WordPress Site Is Screwed What Do I Do? Quick Answers.

wordpress-logoOk so the first thing you have to do is calm down AND STOP FREAKING OUT!

Everyone has this happen at least once, maybe once a week… something happens and you can’t understand what you did to make it all go so wrong…

If your site stops functioning while you are working on it then you have a real clue to what the problem probably is. If there are problems at other times you can follow a few steps to restore your site quickly.

Steps to take

Diagnose your Internet Connection and that of the Server.

There are times when You, Your Host or the 20 or so routers between you can have problems. The first thing you should do if your site does not load is see if you can get to any other site like google. If you can get to google and get fresh search data then you know your connection is not the problem.

Ping your site: If you get in your browser a message Website Can Not Be Found ping your hostname. Open a start->run-> cmd dialog box or Terminal and Ping .

If you see a host not found message like:

Ping request could not find host
Please check the name and try again.

Then you know it is a problem with your DNS.

This is a technical problem that you will have to workout between your ISP, Domain Name Seller, Your Hosting Company and possibly settings in your own account.  Most likely if you have paid your fees and have not made changes  it could be a temporary problem that should resolve its self in a few minutes or hours.

Try loging into your cPanel account if you can by IP address or going to your Hosting Companies website.

What if I can get to my site?

If you can get to your site by ftp and see that your files are still there then you know your site is alive to some extent. Your Hosting Company could be having problems or it could be a problem with WordPress.

If your site is still putting out a partial page view the source of the page and look where the data stops.

You may have a sidebar widget or plugin acting up so try to match the end of the data to the location it represents on your page. Even if the page looks blank you may still get the first few lines with your Site Title or other identifiable info showing you that WordPress is trying its best to feed your pages.

Error Messages showing on the page

A really common mistake is adding a blank line or character at the bottom of your wp-config.php file.

This will return the error Headers Already Sent…

If you have this problem go right to that file and look if you have blank lines at the bottom of the file.

If you have other error messages then note them and especially the file that they are returning. Hopefully it will point you to the Theme File or Plugin causing the problem.

If it is a core file from the wp-admin or wp-includes directory causing a problem you could either have a plugin confilcting with that file or the file could be corrupted. See Restore Below if nothing else helps.

The first thing you want to do is alert your visitors while the repairs are going on.

Drop a file named index.html into your root directory and place a message in it saying the site is down for maintenance. This won’t help people that are direct linking to your posts but if they go to your main url they will know that your are working on the site. It is a good idea to keep this file in your root directory at all times then if there is a problem just rename it to index.html and your server should feed it instead of index.php

Make sure you can read the index.html file from your browser.
If you can that means your Webserver is working.

Now that you have taken care of your visitors you can start working without thinking about them.

If your site can not feed the index.html or any other file but you can access it by FTP then there could be a problem with your webserver. Contact your hosting company or restart apache if you can.

Examine what you were doing

If  you are working on your site and something goes wrong then you have a good idea of where to look for problems.

Did you just
Update WordPress
Change the Theme
Install or Update a Plugin
Edit your Permalinks
Turn on or off Caching
Edit your .htaccess file
Edit your wp-config.php file
Directly Edit your Database

These things and more can make your site not work if you create a problem.

So, Lets get to fixing it

The first thing you should do is see if you can login to your WordPress Site as Administrator.

Go directly to and try to get in.

If you can get in and you do not see an error about connecting to the database then you are doing pretty good.

Next go to the edit menu and see if you still have content .. your posts are still there… If they are whew feel better?

If you can not login and get a database error then double check your wp-config.php file for the propper user database name and password. If it seems correct try accessing your database directly with PhpMyAdmin or another Database tool.

If you can not login to your database your MySql Server could be down or there could be a problem with your database.


Plugins are the problem 90% of the time when your site feeds partial pages or when it dies right after a plugin install or software update.

If you believe the problem could be a plugin or if you are not sure then access your site by FTP and go to the directory bloglocation/wp-content and then rename the plugins directory to xplugins to disable all of your plugins.

If you know it is a problem with a specific plugin you can find that plugin’s directory and rename only that folder.

When in doubt rename the whole plugin folder and check if that helps by accessing your site directly  or however you have it setup.

Server Cache

If you are using WP-Supercache plugin you will have a cache directory in your wp-content folder.

WordPress knows about the settings for cache files in 2 locations your .htaccess file and the first line of your wp-config.php file. Turn the cache off by deleting the appropriate lines in those 2 files. Then delete the directory inside your cache folder that stores your static pages.


The override for Themes is pretty much like Plugins.

If you can login to your site and change the theme to the default theme that ships with WordPress.. yes its not as pretty as your theme but it will let you know if wordpress is working.

If you see your site come back then you know you need to address a problem with your theme.

If you can not login to WordPress then FTP to your account and go to bloglocation/wp-content/themes and rename the directory of the theme you are using. Then go into that theme directory and rename styles.css to xstyles.css This should disable that theme and the Default Theme should kick in.

Now What Still Not Working

Ok so you have established that your internet connection is working on both your end and the servers.

You logged into your site with FTP and you see your files are there and nothing looks really out of the ordenary.

You logged into your MySql Database and you have established that you can connect and that there is data in your posts.

You have disabled all of your plugins and changed the theme to the default theme.

You have manually disabled your cache and deleted the cache data in your wp-content/cache/ folder.

If you have got this far then there are probably some moderately serious problems.

The first thing you should do is make a backup of everything you have this means your files and database.

You should know the version of WordPress that you have installed. You should now delete everything except your wp-config file and perform a manual ftp replacement of all your wordpress files with the same version that you have installed.

If you do not know the version you have installed you can simply install the newest version of wordpress and perform an update.

Once you have ensured that your new wp-config.php settings match the sample file with passwords database and secret keys you should access your wp-login.php file and you will either get in or you will be prompted that you need to update your database.

Update your database if needed and login.

If you can get in and your site is working then you will need to reinstall all of your plugins and themes as appropriate.

If you have a problem logging in or continue to have problems then your wp-database is probably corrupted.

Restoring From A Backup

If you have a recent backup of your database you may try to import that into your current database.

The method should be …

Drop all of your tables or delete and then remake your database and users.

Import the old database into the empty database.

Remember only restore a database that was part of a backup when the site was functioning correctly.

Last word of advice

If you have problems that can not be cured by a replacement of your wordpress files and a restore then update of a former working database you will need individual support. The WordPress website has a form where you can ask questions.

Remember to keep backups of all your files. This means older backups and a current backup at the time you had the breakdown.

More then likely you can restore your site by following the methods above but if you can not do not panic as long as you have a database backup your data can be harvested and placed in a new install.

Good Luck.

Remember everyone will have these problems  so make backups often and understand how to restore the backups to restore your site.