Whatever the issue is, knowing how to trouble shoot a WordPress installation is key to getting your site running smoothly again.
Before going any further, please understand that this article is our proposed troubleshooting method. Following these instructions at your own risk.
The number one rule is that you should always be backing up your site. Do you have a backup from when the site was running smoothly? If the issue is critical, you may want to consider restoring that backup to get things back to running smoothly as soon as possible.
If you don’t have a backup, now is the time to create one. Create a backup even if it’s backing up the current problem. In the rare occasion you make things worse, at least you’ll have a way to get back to where things are now. Once you have a current back up complete you can move on to analyzing the problem a little more thoroughly.
I recommend “WP Clone by WP Academy” as an easy to use back up plugin for WordPress. It creates a backup that can be saved or can easily be used to restore the site on any WordPress installation. The second option is to take a look at “WordPress Backup to Dropbox” or WPB2D. This option allows for incremental backups to be stored in the Dropbox cloud. These cloud backups can be created incrementally, so that you can store multiple daily version of your website’s history.
Once the data is backed up and safe, the next step is to start looking at the plugins that may have been installed or updated most recently. If anything has been updated or installed since the problem started, disable those first. Then retest the site. If the problem appears to have been fixed, one of these plugins is the problem. Re-activate them one by one until you know which plugin is causing issues.
If you haven’t installed or updated a plugin in a while, a more drastic approach is necessary. Disable all of the plugins and test the site. Does the site still give you errors? If so your problem is most likely not a plugin and other avenues will need to be considered. It could be your theme or something wrong with your server. We’ll cover those issues shortly.
If the site seems to be working well with the plugins disabled, then you must carefully start to reactivate the plugins one by one until you can isolate the plugin that’s causing the issue.
When you find the plugin that’s causing the issue, it’s time to do a little research to find out what the issues are. More often than not, if you’re having a problem, other people are too. A couple of well-crafted Google searches could lead you right to the answer. In many cases, the answer is updating the plugin or searching for another plugin that’s more compatible with your current version of WordPress.
In the event this is a purchased plugin, the first thing to do would be to contact the support department for the developer who created the plugin. This is your best bet for commercial plugins. If you can’t find a support contact, you may be able to search and track down a Facebook group or support forum for the plugin.
If you test every plugin and none of them appear to be the issue, it’s time to take a look at your core WordPress files. I recommend installing the WordFence WordPress plugin. Besides getting the added benefit of WordFence protecting you site from many forms of hack attacks, it can also run a scan of all your installed files. If any files appeared to be tampered with or different from the originals installed, the program will tell you. In many cases WordFence will even offer an option to restore the altered files to their original form. Unless you’ve done some heavy customizations, the program will fix most problems. If it gives you the warning that it can replace the file, please make sure you have a copy of any custom code you may have altered the file with, so that you can reinstall it on the new code version.
If both the plugins and the core WordPress files are cleared, you may want to take a look at the theme files. In many cases you can easily just restore the theme files. This should clear up most issues.
Finally, if you’ve tried all of the options we mentioned above and you are still having site issues, it’s time to open a ticket with QuadraNet’s support department. While WordPress is a user-installed software and not officially supported by your hosting support plan, our tech support may be able to identify the problem and either provide you with information to fix it or fix it for you.
When you’re back up and running with a healthy site again, remember step one. Create a backup of the now working site, so that you can always head back to this backup in the event of an emergency.