WordPress is a great choice to power your website or blog — it’s reliable, flexible, and allows you to create beautiful pages and posts with ease. But like with anything, you can run into issues from time to time. These may seem scary, but most can be resolved in a few simple steps.
If your site is hosted on WordPress.com, though, you’ll encounter fewer issues because they take care of server management on your behalf. This means that you can avoid things like out-of-date software, incorrect server settings, and insecure site files.
In case you do run into a problem, you’ll want to know how to troubleshoot and fix it as quickly as possible. Let’s take a look at some common WordPress errors and how to solve them.
Problem: You Encounter a 404 Error
If your website is showing a 404 error for a page or post, it means that either content is missing or has not been linked properly.
What to Do:
First, make sure that the page or post in question actually exists. In the dashboard, go to Posts → All Posts or Pages → All Pages. Click on your post or page and check its visibility status in the top right hand corner. This should be set to Public. If your post or page doesn’t show up in the Published tab, make sure to check Drafts and Trash. If you find it there, you’ll need to publish it to fix the 404 error.
If the content is there, published, and accessible to the general public, the problem is likely the URL itself. If the link to that content is on your own site — like a menu item or button — then double-check that the URL is correct. Instead of navigating back and forth, try opening the content in a new tab, and copying the URL from that tab into your WordPress settings. This helps you be as accurate as possible.
If an external link is pointing to the content, and you have no control over editing or changing that link, you can redirect it to the right URL. If you have a WordPress.com Pro Plan, try installing a plugin like Redirection, which allows you to enter the incorrect URL and redirect it to the correct one.
Problem: A Block Contains Unexpected or Invalid Content
When creating a page or post through the WordPress Block Editor, sometimes a block will display an error message saying that it contains unexpected or invalid content. This may indicate an issue with any custom HTML you’ve added or a bug with a third-party block.
What to Do:
The error message will appear as a box with two buttons that say Resolve and Convert to HTML. You’ll also see a small menu with three dots containing more selections. These give you options to resolve your issue in one of four ways:
- Resolve. Click the Resolve button to have WordPress try to fix the HTML issue. This usually works best when the problem is a small typo or missing closing tag in custom HTML.
- Convert to HTML. If your block isn’t already in HTML, use this button to convert this block to a Custom HTML block. Then, view your code to try to find the mismatched tag or typo that’s causing the problem.
- Convert to Classic Block. Using the three dot menu, convert the block back to “classic” format. If you’re working with an older page or post, this might be your best option.
- Attempt Block Recovery. Using the three dot menu, choose this option to ask WordPress to revert the block back to before your recent changes.
Problem: The WordPress Login Page Redirects in a Loop
Sometimes, the WordPress login process fails to load the dashboard. Instead, when you try to log in, it simply reloads the login form over and over. This problem is often specific to your computer, although in rare cases it can be caused by a faulty WordPress setting.
What to Do:
1. Clear your cache. Start by wiping your browser’s cache to reset the login page. Instructions vary for each individual browser, but you’ll want to use the settings menu to access your history and clear all cache and cookies. Alternatively, you can use the browser’s menu to open an incognito or private browsing window and try logging in from there.
2. Make sure cookies are allowed and active. WordPress requires a cookie to tell your browser that the login was successful and move you into the dashboard. Use your browser’s settings menu to check your cookie settings and make sure they’re enabled and turned on. Again, these steps vary depending on your browser, but here are the instructions for Google Chrome.
Problem: You Can’t Upload an Image
It’s annoying when you can’t upload an image, especially because the problem often isn’t obvious. There are several things that can go wrong here, so you may have to try a few different approaches to upload your image to the WordPress Media Library.
What to Do:
Let’s break down how you can solve this issue based on the error message that you receive.
1. “File is too large”: All WordPress sites have an upload limit for files, and this limit varies. Your maximum size is shown in the bottom left on the Add New screen of the Media Library. If you need to upload a file that exceeds your limit, you’ll need to upgrade your WordPress.com plan. Or you’ll want to compress your images to make them small enough.
2. “File type not allowed”: WordPress.com allows you to upload specific types of files. If you’re trying to add a video, a simple fix is to upgrade to a WordPress.com Pro plan. If you need to upload a different type of unsupported file, you may be able to convert it to an acceptable format or use a plugin to assist. Read the WordPress.com accepted file types documentation for more.
3. “Invalid filename”: WordPress file names cannot include any special characters like &, %, or #. Rename your file using only letters and numbers before attempting to upload it to the Media Library.
4. “Unable to create directory”: You may either get this error message or simply see a list of “blank” images in your Media Library. Either way, this means that you have a permissions problem. Both the WordPress program files and directories, and any uploaded images or documents, have permissions settings. These control who can and can’t view and edit the files. Permission problems can be remedied by manually updating permissions on all files and directories via FTP. This is a more advanced fix and is best handled by a developer or the WordPress.com support team.
Problem: You Get the “Destination Folder Already Exists” Error
You might see this error while installing a plugin or theme. It means that the plugin or theme was installed in the past, but not removed correctly.
What to Do:
First, make sure the theme or plugin isn’t installed and in use already. For a list of plugins, go to Plugins → Installed Plugins in the WordPress dashboard. For themes, go to Appearance → Themes.
If your plugin or theme doesn’t appear in the list, then the existing directory needs to be removed manually. You can do this by accessing your site files via FTP. Look for the plugin or theme directory shown in the error message. You can usually find this in /wp-content/plugins or /wp-content/themes. You can then delete the directory manually.
You should now be able to install the plugin or theme through the WordPress dashboard successfully.
Problem: You See a Warning that Says “The Site Ahead Contains Harmful Programs”
Some browsers display this message in order to protect people from malicious actors. So if you see this warning when trying to access your website, it’s likely been hacked. You’ll want to get things fixed as quickly as possible to avoid losing content, damaging your reputation, or putting your visitors’ information at risk.
What to Do:
The easiest way to fix your website is to restore it from a backup. If you have a WordPress.com Pro plan, you’re already benefiting from automatic, real-time backups from Jetpack. This means that your site was copied each and every time you made a change, like updating a page or publishing a new post.
Go to Jetpack → Backup in your WordPress dashboard to view a full list of available backups. You’ll be able to restore your site from before a specific action was taken, so look for anything suspicious, like pages you didn’t edit or successful logins that weren’t from you. Then, you can restore a backup from right before that activity with the click of a button.
If you’re not using a Pro plan, you’ll want to reach out to WordPress.com support. They can quickly clean any malware from your site and help secure it so you can get back up and running as quickly as possible.
Remember that once your site is clean, it may take browsers a little time to remove the warning.
Problem: You See the “White Screen of Death”
The white screen of death can manifest itself in two ways:
- As a plain, blank screen on your site with nothing on it
- As a line of text saying that a critical error has occurred
This is often caused by a conflict between plugins and themes.
What to Do:
You’ll want to deactivate plugins and themes to identify the source of the problem.
Here’s how you can do this:
- In your dashboard, go to Plugins and deactivate each one. Reload your site. If the problem is solved, reactivate your plugins one by one to find the one that causes the issue again. Once you identify it, you’ll either need to update or find another tool to use.
- If plugins are not the problem, try reverting to a standard WordPress theme like Twenty Twenty Two. You can do this by going to Appearance → Themes in the WordPress dashboard. If the site works with a default theme activated, you’ll need to find an alternative to your previous theme or reach out to their support team.
Get your site back up and running
When something goes wrong on your WordPress site, take a deep breath — you can get things fixed! Take your time, consider your options, and don’t be afraid to reach out to the WordPress.com support team.
Remember, backups are the best protection against things that go wrong on your WordPress site. Ready to enable real-time, automatic backups? Upgrade to a WordPress.com Pro plan today.
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