When you’ve finally found a quiet moment to sit down and work on your blog, site errors, slow loading pages, or randomly missing files can make even the most even-tempered WordPress users begin to panic. It can seem like nothing changed in the time between your site running perfectly and now. That can make finding a solution tricky. What are some steps you can take to troubleshoot the mystery errors quickly and get everything back to normal?
Understand the Process
Let’s start with a quick look at what WordPress is and how the parts that make up your site work together. Your WordPress site is essentially a library of files and folders, organized by code and a database, and housed on a web server. It has a domain, or address, and that is how a variety of devices can find it.
When someone types in your site address, or clicks on a post or file (e.g., an image, a PDF to download, etc), they use their device to request the related files from the library, and the database locates them. WordPress Core, your theme, and plugins determine how they should be displayed and in which order.
This process happens fast — usually seamlessly and without error. When it doesn’t, it can usually be traced to an incompatibility or change to the parts making up your site. Those changes can be as tiny as one or two lines of code that conflict from one plugin to another. Or it can be caused by an update that changes permissions for user accounts, or how devices run the site. Or any number of changes that happen in the background.
Work Toward a Solution
Here are a few actions you can take to track down the source of the issue, troubleshoot, and in many cases, resolve the problem.
Test your site on different devices.
Rule out that your device or browser isn’t the source of the problem by loading your site on different browsers and devices. If the issue resolves itself when you use a different device, you’ll know that the problem is with a setting in your browser or device, and not something on your site.
Log out and see if the error disappears.
This is a good test to find out if the issue you’re experiencing is associated with a user account. For example, if you notice your site seems to be loading sluggishly, it could mean that your site caching is bypassed when you’re logged in. Logging out makes sure you see what your readers see when they visit your site.
When the WordPress team, or developers of your theme or plugins release updates for their software, it’s important to make sure to install them. Many bloggers let these updates pile up or don’t update until things on their site get sideways. Updating regularly can not only solve some issues, but it keeps your site secure.
We recommend first running a backup of your site and then, updating WordPress Core, your theme and your plugins. If this doesn’t resolve the issue, move onto the next step.
Deactivating plugins one at a time to see if you can find which one is causing the issue. Plugins don’t always play well with others and this can help you find the potential culprit. If all of your plugins pass the test and your site continues to have issues, go to the next step.
Restore a Backup.
In an ideal world, you’re running regular backups. Read why you should be running backups and how easy it is to set up. If your site started acting up recently, and none of the aforementioned tests helped you resolve it, you can restore your last backup. If this fixes the issue, the source of the problem is most likely a change you’ve made on your site between the date of your last backup and now.
Ask for Help.
When all else fails, reach out to your theme’s support department, plugin developers, or your web developer. Share everything you know about the site problem, and let them know what steps you’ve taken to troubleshoot. That could save money, time, and help get your site back to normal faster.
If you’re an AGhosted client, contact Support with that information and we’ll take a look to see if we can help you fix your site. We’re here for you!