WordPress is essentially a very stable content management system, but with more than 55,000 plugins and 11,000 themes available, there will be some issues from time to time.
What happens when you try to load your Admin dashboard but can’t get in? What about if you can’t load your website at all?
I recently found several posts where website owners were locked out of their websites and had no idea how to resolve the problem. Here are a few simple ways to get back into your website.
One: Plugins are probably the problem; manually disable them.
WordPress on its own is not likely to crash randomly, but plugins can be automatically updated and cause conflicts with each other or with WordPress core. If you suddenly find you cannot access your website, the first step is to head to your host and sign into the file structure using FTP (File Transfer Protocol). Often this is available using a web-based interface. If you cannot access files via your host’s website, you may need expert help, although there are many in-depth guides for using FTP via applications.
Once you can access your files, if you navigate to wp-content > plugins, you can disable plugins by simply renaming the folders. I typically will throw a # in front of the folder name and try to reload my dashboard or website one by one. So the first plugin (or the one I suspect is the problem) will go from “pluginOne” to “#pluginOne.” By systematically doing this to each plugin, you will identify which is causing the issue.
Side note: some use the suffix “disabled,” and while I like that it is descriptive, I can much more quickly visually identify the modified folders when I use the pound/hash symbol, which is why I prefer it.
Once you do, you can log in and update that disabled plugin from the backend and then activate it again. If your site now loads, you have solved the problem. Make sure to go back in and remove the # in the folder and double-check that it remains active.
Two: If not plugins, check your theme.
If you disable all your plugins and still cannot access your website, your theme is the next most likely culprit. Simply head to wp-content > themes and throw that same # on your active theme and try to load the site. If it works, you know your theme needs to be updated or changed. If you can now access your admin panel, you can update it there, or if you are slightly more advanced, you can download a new copy and replace it via FTP.
Note: you need a theme to load your site. If you only have one theme in your themes folder, you can download the default WP theme here and put it in the themes folder in your host’s interface.
If you are still unable to access your site after trying these steps, you likely need the help of your hosting provider or an expert. Reach out here if you need help updating your WordPress site and bringing it back online. We are experts in hunting down problems and resolving them!