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Blog 9-1-1: What To Do When WordPress Breaks

By Char

Servers crash, databases notoriously corrupt and then there is the ever present human error factor! So what do you do when you are going about your daily business, check on your web site and see this:

WordPress Error Message and how to fix it

Your beautiful, content-rich, ever popular site is gone!!! Oh no!

Super blogger, Gayla McCord of MomGadget  saw this exact message the other day. She hadn’t done anything other than go into her WordPress dashboard and approved a comment. At the time, she was not really concerned as to why it happened, rather she needed to know how to FIX IT and fast.

Luckily for Gayla, she had a good copy of her WordPress install on her local machine and the simple fix was to just upload the wp-config.php file again. The upload fixed the problem and was up and running again.

The php files that give WordPress all its muscle are picky! Sometimes all it takes to send them off into a frenzy is a missing character (been there, done that) or forgetting to close up a tag (done that too). Sometimes it is simple hiccup on the server side. A while back my permalinks went all funky. It was a simple fix – if you knew what to do – just go into the permalinks area of your WordPress dashboard and reset them to default, save, then go back in and then reset your custom structure.

My advice to you is to always keep a good copy of your WordPress install on your local machine. When an error arises, try reloading the indicated file first.

Back up your actual WordPress database regularly, too!! April Groves of Making Life Work for You recently experienced this one when her web hosting went bad. Chris Cree of SuccessCREEations was able to help her restore everything, but she did lose some of her comments.

And just for good measure, you should also backup your daily data on a regular basis! Web sites are not the only thing that crash.

If you find yourself in a situation where things have gone awry:

  1. Reload your basic WordPress files
  2. Restore your database
  3. Check with your web host – have they done any updates lately? Had any servers crash? Do they have a recent back up of your site?
  4. Check the WordPress codex to see if any of the plugins you use are conflicting with another one.
  5. Check the WordPress support forum to see if anyone else has experienced the same error – chances are, they have
  6. Put out a call on your blog (if you can) or ask a blogging friend to put out a call for you. You would be amazed at the knowledge and generosity of the WordPress community.

Thankfully Gayla and April have happy endings to their recent WordPress scares! Have you got any WordPress survival stories? Feel free to share them with us – we all benefit!

Categories : WordPress



Yeah, a happy ending. Thanks to having my wonderful panic button named Char! :D


Gayla – I have one of those too – except for I call mine “Chris” :)

Odd, this seems to have been quite the issue over the new year. A real estate blogger friend of mine had issues too…


I highly recommend partnering with another Blogger and doing reciprocal hosting. Most web hosting companies give unlimited domains.

Simply backup (export) your XML file on WordPress AFTER EVERY POST, and upload it (import) to the other server. You don’t even need FTP access once it’s all setup.

Make sure you all have the same version of WordPress 2.3.1

You can always setup a temp domain, such as, and as long as you have full DNS control, just make the switch. Easy.

The only quirk I’ve seen is the Categories get messed up. It creates multiple categories of the same name.

This is true with WordPress 2.1 and 2.2 to 2.3.x

Of course, make sure you let readers know it’s the temp or DR (disaster recovery) site. If they add comments to the temp site, you’ll have to import them to the real one.

Sorry for being long, I’ve seem my share of headaches. Fortunately, not mine!


Try activating the default theme is a good way of tracking down bugs that maybe in your WordPress theme.

Also, with some knowledge you can create a batch FTP script to download your WordPress files on daily basis.

Good post.



Great reminder post. I’d like to recommend WordPress Database Backup that does a MySql dump periodically with an option to email it to an address. Brainless automation helps make backups way easier.


I have to agree, a working backup copy of your entire website is very important, you never know when things can go wrong and it is time consuming to debug from file to file trying to locate the little bug, this hours of downtime can cause you dearly, a good backup can get you back up again asap serving your website visitors again, and you can then go back into digging the bug again.


This is very good advice. I still haven’t gotten around to setting up a local backup, but I think I may finally do it.


Good read! I use the WP DBManager plugin for manual and scheduled backups of my blog. :)


It depends on how technically able you are. I personally have a backup script that runs every night at 12am backing up all of my sites. It backs up the files and the MySQL database. It’s nothing special, using lftp and a shell script.

If you’re not technically inclined and you’re willing to pay a little bit, there are software packages that can do backups for you.


I switched to blogger the first time it bOrkEd on me.

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