When your WordPress is down, it’s the same as suddenly closing the doors of your physical store in the middle of a sales day.
An inactive website drives away customers, affects brand reputation, loses sales, hurts search engine optimization (SEO) and can have lasting effects well beyond the actual downtime.
A 2022 Uptime Institute report found that 60% of website outages cost more than $100,000.
While managed WordPress hosting services can help you prevent downtime from happening, there are steps you can take on your own to diagnose and fix downtime issues for your WordPress website.
Here are the steps we will cover:
How to check if your WordPress website is down
Sometimes called the white screen of death, a blank white screen announces that a website cannot load. But even if you can’t access your WordPress website from your computer, or if you get a report from a client that it’s down, it may not actually be down. If you suspect your WordPress site is down, here’s how to quickly investigate the scope of the problem.
Clear your browser’s cache
Occasionally, a caching error can make your website appear to be down when nothing is actually wrong. Clear your browser cache and try to reload your website.
check your network
Sometimes your individual computer will have trouble connecting to your website even though the website itself is working properly. If you can’t access any other website, the problem could be your computer or your Internet connection.
You can check your network connection by pinging it from the command prompt or by using your system’s network troubleshooting function.
Check for more downtime reports
If other websites load fine, use a downtime detection tool like fall detector either Down for everyone or just me to see if the problem is being reported by others. You can also check with other people in your organization to see if they can access the website.
Identify why WordPress is not working
After confirming that your WordPress website is down; will need to identify and diagnose the problem. Most WordPress website outages are the result of hosting issues, technical errors, or security threats like a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack.
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Problems with the hosting service
Your WordPress hosting is the first place to look for the cause of downtime. Excessive data usage, scheduled maintenance downtime, or even power outages at the server location could cause problems.
Check the status page of your hosting service provider
Your WordPress host could be experiencing a server outage or planned maintenance. Check your host’s server uptime status page for live uptime and downtime information. Some service providers also notify customers through email notifications or social media posts about downtime updates and scheduled maintenance.
Check the maximums of your plan
If you recently uploaded new videos, switched to a graphic-heavy WordPress theme, or had a recent spike in traffic, you may have exceeded your hosting plan’s bandwidth or storage maximums.
Check traffic spikes
If your site experiences a sudden spike in traffic, it can trigger your host’s security protocols and be mistaken for a DDoS attack. In that case, your website may have been temporarily taken offline to prevent further damage. If you are using shared hosting, traffic spikes for any website on the server can cause slow load times or outages for everyone.
Technical errors in your website’s coding, server misconfiguration, internal plugin server errors, plugin conflicts, WordPress theme errors, Domain Name Service (DNS) errors, and moved files can cause downtime for all or part of your WordPress website. The most common technical issues that can cause your WordPress website to go down include:
Domain Name System (DNS) configuration issues Plugin conflicts Theme conflicts Outdated plugins or themes Files lost or moved Custom coding and CSS
Cyber attacks and security threats, especially against financial data, continue to increase. As cybercrime targets more businesses, security threats become a more common reason WordPress websites experience downtime. Common pathways and types of security threats are:
Outdated or poorly coded themes and plugins. Mismanagement of passwords by your staff. Hacking attempts by bad actors, including brute force and DDoS attacks. Ransomware.
How to fix a broken WordPress website
Once you confirm that your WordPress website is offline or broken, you need to organize a response. If the site is still online but experiencing slow speeds or other errors, temporarily put your website on maintenance mode to pause access while you work on it.
Fix WordPress Theme and Plugin Conflicts
Plugins power the functionality of many websites, but sometimes they fail, or two plugins don’t work well with each other (or with the WordPress theme).
To quickly diagnose if the problem is with a plugin, disable all plugins via FTP or the file manager. If the website reappears, then the problem is with the plugin, and you can reactivate the plugins one at a time to identify which plugins are causing the problem.
Fix a corrupt update
Sometimes updating a theme or plugin doesn’t work correctly. There may be a bug in the code or it may be infected with malware. Reverting the update is the fastest solution for these problems.
You can also use a plugin like plugin detective to find plugin conflicts and update issues.
Troubleshoot DNS configuration errors
If your Domain Name System (DNS) information is not set up correctly, no one will be able to find your website and it will appear to be down. Use a dns checker to quickly identify if there is a problem with your DNS.
Each web host includes instructions on how to correctly point your website’s address into their service. Generally, this is done from your customer portal and allows you to set zones and records.
Troubleshoot PHP memory limit
If you run into a PHP memory limit problem, it’s the equivalent of your store being understaffed. PHP workers they are bits of code that do the heavy lifting of transferring data between your host and your website visitor.
To fix a PHP memory limit issue, add the following code to your wp-config.php file:
Fix a corrupt database
If you suspect that your WordPress database is corrupted, run a consistency check by turning on the WP_DEBUG function in your WordPress configuration file.
If errors are detected, repair the database using the built-in repair function of MySQL, the database management system (DBMS) for WordPress. Check that your directory and file permissions are set correctly.
Fix security attacks
Identify the type of attack that has occurred by using security plugins like Wordfence or Sucuri to scan your website for malware and vulnerabilities.
Note: iThemes Security Pro is provided at no cost to WordPress clients managed by Nexcess.
If you’ve identified malware, quarantine infected files to prevent them from spreading to other parts of your website, and replace them with clean copies from a backup or trusted source.
Changing your WordPress login, FTP passwords, and database passwords is a quick fix if you suspect unauthorized access.
Once you’ve stopped unauthorized access, you’ll need to undo the damage. Restoring your website from its last backup can restore it to a previous state where it worked correctly. In some cases, you may need to go back to a previous backup if there was a problem that you didn’t quickly diagnose.
However, reverting means losing any changes, updates, or content added after the backup. You will need to update WordPress, your theme, and any plugins again after restoring the backup.
If you are facing a serious security threat that you cannot resolve on your own, contact your hosting provider for assistance. If you use shared hosting, you may need to hire outside help. Managed hosting providers can usually provide more help than shared hosting.
The best ways to protect your WordPress website
Preventing downtime saves you time and money in the long run. A few simple steps will help protect your WordPress website from downtime.
WordPress Security Protections
Keep WordPress up-to-date. Keep WordPress themes up-to-date. Keep WordPress plugins up-to-date. Backup your website. Use security plugins. Use SSL certificates.
Scheduling routine maintenance tasks and updates to plugins, themes, and your WordPress core makes progress simple. You can do it manually or with automated APIs. Some hosts also offer WordPress plugin performance monitoring tools.
WordPress Uptime and Performance Protections
Use a caching plugin. Use a content delivery network (CDN). Use an automatic uptime monitoring tool like Pingdom, or the one provided in iThemes Sync Pro, which is included in Nexcess Managed WordPress plans. Choose a reliable managed WordPress hosting plan.
A poor hosting plan can lead to slow loading times, website crashes, and security breaches. When choosing a hosting plan and service provider, check for server reliability, bandwidth capacity, and security.
Consider using a managed WordPress hosting service like Nexcess and let the experts handle many of the performance, maintenance, and security tasks for you.
Final Thoughts: What To Do When Your WordPress Website Is Down
Every website experiences downtime. The goal is to minimize that downtime by planning ahead and maintaining your website. Maintain frequent backups, update software, and retain contact details for technical support. Knowing what to do in advance helps minimize downtime and ensures your website stays up and running.
Don’t wait until website downtime impacts your business.
Verify Fully Managed WordPress from Nexcess for high performance hosting.