WordPress Not Working – How To Fix 7 Frustrating WordPress Errors


Fiona O’Connell


2019 February 19th


One of the best things about WordPress is that it's intuitive and easy to use.

Well, at least, when it's up and running.

Unfortunately, a badly timed WordPress error can prevent you from uploading an urgent post or, worse, take down your site entirely.

If you can't figure out how to get around that pesky error message, don't panic! The enormous WordPress user base means that solutions to the most common problems are well documented.

Without further ado, these are the solutions to the 7 most common WordPress errors:

1. How to Fix WordPress Page 404 Error

WordPress Errors 404

Typically, when WordPress has problems loading pages and posts return a 404 error, the site admin area remains accessible. If this is your situation, it indicates the issue is with your permalinks and can be addressed by refreshing your permalink structure.

You can normally address this by entering the permalinks section of your sidebar and then clicking on the 'Save Changes' button. That's right, you shouldn't even need to change the way WordPress structures permalinks.

Merely clicking on the save button should flush out any misbehaving rules.

WordPress Errors Fix Permalinks

If this doesn't solve the problem, it's likely because your .htaccess file is in read-only mode. To begin addressing that, find your .htaccess file through your server's FTP service.

Not sure how?

Then check out my How To Find .htaccess File walkthrough

WordPress Errors Change Permissions

Once you've located the file, right-click on it and select 'Permissions'. Set every permission to 'Write' and repeat the previous process. When you're finished, make sure you restore the original permissions settings.

2. How to Fix WordPress 'Unavailable for Scheduled Maintenance' Error

There are few errors more frustrating than the 'Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute.' screen because it often appears at times when you certainly didn't schedule anything...

WordPress Errors Maintenance

So why does it occur?

When WordPress or plugin updates are released, WordPress will automatically put itself into maintenance mode and install them. That's when the 'Scheduled Maintenance' message is supposed to appear and it should normally only take a few seconds or minutes to vanish again.

However, if the installation is interrupted, WordPress may get stuck in the maintenance mode. If you've been seeing the message for more than a few minutes, you can manually force WordPress to update by following the steps below.

  1. Backup your WordPress database. Give my WordPress database backup guide a read if you're not sure how to do that.
  2. Download the latest WordPress installation files.
  3. Extract the Zip archive and find the folder called 'WordPress'.
  4. Upload the contents to your root installation folder via FTP.
  5. Select 'overwrite' for any messages about files with the same names.
  6. Open your WordPress admin page and click the 'Update WordPress Database' button.
  7. In your FTP, turn on the 'view hidden files' setting.
  8. Find and delete the '.Maintenance' file.

3. How to Fix '503 Service Temporarily Unavailable' WordPress Errors

Whenever your WordPress server fails to get a response from a PHP script, you'll see a '503: Service Temporarily Unavailable' error message. There are many different reasons this can occur. It could be a glitch in your host's server software, a malfunctioning plugin, or your site could simply be being overwhelmed by high traffic levels.

WordPress Errors 503

Because there are multiple common causes of 503 WordPress issues, try the following troubleshooting steps. After each, check if functionality has been restored:

  1. Wait it out. Some causes of 503 WordPress errors, such as an overloaded server, will simply solve themselves within a few minutes.
  2. Manually deactivate all WordPress plugins by temporarily renaming the 'Plugins' folder through your FTP client. If this solves the issue, afterward, reinstall your plugins one by one to find the culprit.
  3. Restore a default WordPress theme. In your FTP client, navigate to your WordPress folder. Open the 'Themes' folder from within the 'wp-content' directory. Download and then delete your current theme's folder. WordPress will automatically restore a default theme in response.
  4. Get in touch with your WordPress host. If the above steps failed, check with your hosting service to see if there are any server-side issues causing the error.
  5. Create a database backup and reinstall WordPress from your hosting control panel.

4. How to Fix 'Destination Folder Already Exists' WordPress Error

The 'Destination folder already exists' error message rears its ugly head whenever you try to install a theme or plugin that's already installed. It also occasionally pops up when you try to update a plugin from a Zip file rather than through the plugin directory.

WordPress Errors Destination Already Exists

Fortunately, it's one of the easiest WordPress issues to solve. Start by opening your WordPress server's FTP client from your hosting control panel. Navigate to your 'wp-content' folder and open either the 'plugins' or 'themes' folder. Finally, delete the folder of the plugin or theme that you're trying to install and attempt the installation again.

5. How to Fix PHP WordPress Errors

Some WordPress issues are more serious than others. The majority of PHP errors that appear around your site are merely there to help you debug other issues, and don't actually result in WordPress not working. They do, however, make your site look messy and unprofessional.

The best way to deal with them, in the short term, is simply to turn them off by editing your WordPress wp-config.php file within your server's FTP client. 

WordPress Errors wpconfig

In the editor, find this line of code:

define('WP_DEBUG',true/false) ;

And replace it with this:

ini_set('display_errors','Off') ;
ini_set('error_reporting',E_ALL) ;
define('WP_DEBUG_DISPLAY',false) ;

Now just click 'Save & Close' and your PHP errors will be hidden. If you ever need to, you can reveal them again by replacing the inserted text with:

define('WP_DEBUG',true) ;
define('WP_DEBUG_DISPLAY',true) ;

6. How to Solve WordPress Problems Loading Images

Are you struggling to upload images to your media library? Do your images appear as broken picture symbols rather than displaying correctly? Then you are likely experiencing a WordPress image upload issue caused by wrongly set file permissions.

This isn't a particularly taxing WordPress problem to solve. Open up your WordPress server's FTP client and navigate to the 'wp-content' folder. Then, find the 'uploads' folder, right-click on it and select 'Permissions'.

WordPress Errors Uploads

In the popup window, tick the box to give the folder owner write permission. This will allow WordPress to add images to the uploads folder and display them properly. Finish by clicking 'Change' to save the new folder permissions.

WordPress Errors Uploads Permissions

7. How to Fix WordPress Login Error

Getting locked out of the WordPress administration area is an error that affects many WordPress users. Often, this happens when WordPress fails to send a password reset email to users that have forgotten their login details. If that's the issue you're facing, fear not! Manually changing your credentials is straightforward.

Before getting started, backup your WordPress database. Check out this database backup guide if you aren't sure how to do that.

Then, in your hosting control panel, open phpMyAdmin.

WordPress Errors Destination Open phpMyAdmin

Enter the 'Databases' tab and click on your WordPress database.

WordPress Errors Open Database

Then click on the 'wp_users' or 'wp4x_users' section of the database.

WordPress Errors wp users

In the next screen click 'Edit' next to the Admin user.

WordPress Errors Edit

Finally, you can enter your new password. Then click 'Go' to save the changes. If your email is listed incorrectly here, make sure you correct it.

WordPress Errors Change Password

Fixing WordPress Errors - Final Thoughts

WordPress is a powerful site building tool. However, the control it offers over vital components of your site, such as page code, means there is an almost infinite number of errors to run in to.

I hope these fixes have helped you find solutions to problems you've encountered with your WordPress site. Please comment below to let me know if there are other solutions you need to find!

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