Despite being the most popular and used content management system (CMS) in the world, WordPress is far from perfect. Although you can contact the technical support for all kinds of WordPress errors, the support is not always timely.
Along with smaller and common WordPress errors that you face with the platform, you may at times encounter a critical error that can potentially jeopardise your website’s performance considerably.
Addressing the critical error as quickly as possible is vital for your website, and let’s see how you can do it.
What Is A Critical Error In WordPress?
A critical error in WordPress is an error that prevents the site’s codes from running as needed to make it work properly.
It could be a memory issue or corrupt WordPress core files. If you have used an automated WordPress installer, the email would be the same that you have given for your WordPress hosting account.
When this error happens in your website hosted with WordPress, the following message shows up saying check your site admin email inbox:
This message can be seen on all WordPress sites using WP 5.2 or above.
How Does A Critical Error Happen In WordPress?
For a website to work correctly, its codes, plugins, and other scripts must work smoothly. When any of this stops working, a cascade of errors might occur in the background preventing files from loading. This stops the website from working.
There could be several reasons for a WordPress critical error to happen. It might range from a custom code you installed on your site to a plugin malfunctioning to conflicts between plugins.
Regardless of the issue, you can follow any of the methods below to fix the critical error.
How To Fix The Critical Error In WordPress?
The following methods will help you fix the critical error message:
Find The Critical Error Email From WordPress
When a critical error occurs, WordPress users get an email from wordpress hosting provider explaining the error and a link that lets them log in to the WordPress dashboard running on recovery mode.
Analyze Why The Error Occurred
One of the best ways to understand why this happened is to analyze what you were doing before the issue.
Some of the things you may have done to cause the error are:
- Deleting or installing a plugin
- Deactivating or activating a plugin
- Uploading, activating, or deactivating a site theme
- Making changes to web hosting
- Updating the PHP version
- Updating through FTP
If you have done any of it, try undoing it. This will reverse the critical error most of the time.
Deactivate Your Current Theme
Deactivating your current theme and going with the default theme are the best ways to reverse the critical error if it is caused by a conflict in your website theme. You need to have access to the WordPress admin area.
Follow these steps to do it:
Step #1: Use FTP to log in to your website.
Step#2: Find your current theme by following this path – wp-content -> theme -> name-of-theme.
Step #3: Rename the current theme. For example, change the theme-name to theme-name-changed-due-to-error.
Step #4: Refresh your website to see if it is working.
If the site does not work, then you know it is not an issue with the theme. Go back to your theme and reverse the theme name to the default name.
Disable All Plugins
Now that you know it’s not an issue of theme, the next suspect is the plugins. You can either disable all the plugins at once or disable them individually.
Here are the steps to disable the plugins all at once:
Step #1: Use FTP to log in to your website.
Step#2: Find your plugin folder inside the folder named wp-content.
Step #3: Now, rename the folder to plugin-name-disabled to disable your site’s plugins.
Step #4: Refresh the site to see if the site is back to working. If the issue persists, you know that it is not a plugin issue.
If your website is working again, you can confirm that one of the plugins was causing this. Therefore, you need to start enabling each plugin to see which was causing the issue.
Also, don’t forget to change the folder name to the default name when you have finished sorting the issue out. If you are not able to do that, try getting help from WordPress plugin developers.
Go Back To The Previous Site Backup
Once you have found that an update causes the issue, the best way to deal with it is to fall back to the previous version of the backup you have or the platform.
Similarly, you can access the past versions of the plugins from the plugin page hosted under Development Changelog.
Carefully Inspect The Error Log
Another way to understand the critical error is to look for the error logs on your site. To do this, log in to your site using FTP and check for the error logs.
If that is not working out for you, you can look for the error using the WP debug mode.
To do this, first sign in to your site with the help of FTP or File Manager. Now locate the wp-config.php file hosted within the root folder of WordPress.
After locating the file, open it in a text editor and look for the following lines:
You need to now replace the false with true and save it. Upon refreshing your website, you can see many more errors in the platform. From analyzing this, you can reach a conclusive inference as to what caused the critical error.
Once done with the same, change the values back to the defaults on the WP debug log. You can visit the dedebugging support page on WordPress to learn more about it.
If you can access the backend of your website, you may check the site health tool to see what’s ailing your site.
The WordPress critical error can be fixed using any of the methods mentioned above. However, you need to be wary of doing it yourself if you aren’t sure about it. In such instances, you can contact your WordPress hosting provider to help you out or check WordPress forums for help.
Alternatively, you can also hire a web developer with experience working with WordPress.