6 Million Things That Can Go Wrong With Your WordPress Site

wordpress website

“The website isn’t working!”

Four simple words that will send you into a spiral of dread and despair. You go to your website and see something like Internal Server Error or Connection Timed Out. Worse yet, your website seems to have completely disappeared. (This is fondly referred to as the “White Screen of Death.”)

While WordPress is a great blog and website platform, between plugin compatibility issues, theme updates and more, there just might be six million things that could go wrong.  But for now, let’s just focus on six main WordPress issues.

Things That Can Go Wrong With Your WordPress Website

Performance and Security Issues

Before you build a new website, it’s a good idea to get your website set up in the best way possible, to prevent future potential performance and security issues.

Million-Dollar Tip:

Not all hosts are created equal.  If you are not very technical or just want someone else to worry about performance and security for you, choose a company like Synthesis from Copyblogger Media that offers managed hosting for WordPress.  You will pay more but you get guaranteed performance, automatic security updates and piece of mind that lets you sleep at night.


When logged in as WordPress admin, you will constantly be reminded to update your plugins, your framework, your theme and WordPress itself. Most people proceed with the installation without a thought, then oopsyour header image is broken, or your website looks different than you expected, requiring extra work.

Million-Dollar Tip:

Visit the website of your theme or plugin before performing the update. Read the details of the update to determine if your website’s look or functionality will be impacted.

Ten Million Dollar Tip:

Make sure you have completely backed up your site with a service like CodeGuard or a premium Plugin like BackupBuddy before you update anything.

Server Migration

Maybe your current hosting runs too slow, maybe you don’t like their customer service, or maybe your site keeps getting corrupted. Whatever the reason, when you decide to switch your hosting provider, WordPress might be a little crabby about the changeover.

Million-Dollar Tip:

If you’re worried about the migration process, try hiring a WordPress service company like Fantasktic to handle everything for $99. You’ll experience minimal downtime (if any) and you won’t have to worry about the technical details.

Plugin Compatibility

If you’ve made any changes to your website recently and now you’re having problems, an incompatible plugin is likely the issue. Be sure to check each plugin’s compatibility with your current version of WordPress before installation. Sometimes plugins aren’t compatible with each other and there’s no way to anticipate the conflict in advance.

Million-Dollar Tip:

If your WordPress website is broken and you suspect plugin issues, you need to isolate the plugins folder on your hosting server. To do so, rename your “plugins” folder to “plugins_old” (your server should automatically generate a new copy of the “plugins” folder when you do this). Now, open your website again and, if it now works, you know a plugin conflict is to blame. Copy each plugin from “plugins_old” back into “plugins,” one at a time, to identify which plugin is the culprit.

Super Spamming

Spammers can access your WordPress website in numerous ways, and no doubt about it – they’ll be on the attack every day. Spammers can create fake accounts on your website or post comments littered with garbage links and inappropriate topics.

Million-Dollar Tip:

Spam-fighter Akismet is an unbeatable solution for curbing all those spam comments. While Akismet used to be a separate WordPress plugin, it now comes default with the latest version of WordPress, so all you need to do is activate it and you’re ready to go.

Who The Heck Knows?

Most people who run a WordPress site have, at one time or another, experienced a white-knuckle WordPress situation no amount of tweaking or research can repair. Maybe you’re completely locked out of your website.

Maybe you’ve somehow managed to create an infinite loop of code you can’t access to fix. First of all, don’t panic. In all likelihood, there’s a solution out there somewhere.

Million-Dollar Tip:

If everything else fails, and you feel like all is lost, visit the WordPress Support Forums for help. If the documentation for your problem doesn’t already exist (which it very likely does), you can post your specific problem in the forums, and a surprisingly enthusiastic team of WordPress admins and users will offer specific solutions.

Don’t Let These Potential WordPress Problems Get to You

WordPress is a useful website platform, and you’ll most likely be very happy with your website 99% of the time. Just keep an eye out for issues and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you encounter a problem.

Frustrated Woman Photo via Shutterstock

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Megan Totka Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for Chamber of Commerce. Chamber specializes in helping SMB's grow their business on the Web while facilitating the connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide. Megan specializes in reporting the latest business news, helpful tips and reliable resources and provides advice through her column on the Chamber blog.

19 Reactions
  1. One time I updated a plugin… and all of a sudden all 5000 of my URLs no longer worked anymore (I was using a custom permalink plugin and the plugin interfered with that). I didn’t even realize this until almost 3 days later because I just clicked on automatic update and then left afterwords… led to a bunch of lost sales. So, moral of the story is to make sure that your site works fine after updating the plugins.

  2. Megan, thanks for including BackupBuddy in this list …. we built it because we lost entire sites ourselves because we didn’t have a holistic backup strategy (full off-site backups and easy restore process).

    That’s why we believe regardless of your process for doing so, every WordPress site needs a solid backup strategy in place. It’s not fun losing photos and blog posts (like I did!). 🙂

  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you! These are invaluable tips. While I dabble with the inner workings of my WordPress site, I pay for some very smart programmers to fix whatever I mess up.

  4. Great post, Megan. While I love WordPress, the platform does seem to have a mind of it’s own, sometimes. But it’s still terrific. The Franchise King®

  5. Amen to the backup recommendation. Before I update I always get a full backup. There are too many things that can go wrong in that process.

    Also, I’ve had good success with Bluehost as a host for my WordPress sites.

  6. Home page is working but all other pages down! How is this happening? and more importantly, how can it be rectified?

  7. Megan, thanks for your encouragement to new or would-be WordPress enthusiasts. Your list covered some of the most common (and most troublesome) and most avoidable problems; backups are so very often neglected. I have heard great things about Cory Miller’s BackupBuddy.

    Also particularly like the fact you mentioned a migration service. It is good to hear a mention like that from a person who “knows the biz” rather than just hoping for the best in a Google search for WordPress migration services.

  8. Yes, there are several things that can go wrong when you are using wordpress, but it is the most safe and easy CMS out there for small businesses.

  9. This is a very accurate post of how I feel when wordpress goes crazy! While updating can cause some functionality issues, installed plugins that are not updated could leave “holes” for hackers. I was just hired to “fix” a wordpress site that had not been updated in several years (not by me!) and the site was so corrupted that it really could not be fixed.

  10. This is an article that anyone thinking of putting their business onto WordPress and anyone currently running on WordPress should read. Thank you.

    Another aspect that I have found no references to is the security of what is happening with your data when you use plugins. Consider this – you use a plugin to process certain data which all appears to update your master files and accounts correctly. But where else has that data been sent and to whom. You really have no idea and who is checking the code to ensure that all is as it should be? Why break into someone’s databases – simply write a WP plugin to send you copies of everything anyhow is my solution… This is the big concern for us and why we simply don’t bother with WP

  11. Thanks for a great article.


  12. Great post, Megan!

    Dan Norris and I own WP Curve – we are available to fix all of the problems you’ve described.

    We offer unlimited support for small fixes (less than 30 minutes) from just $69 per month.

  13. Recently, when I try to post something, I’m only given the option of typing in html. There is no option for simple typing. Also, the editor option is gone. Now I only have the “add media” button (literally, nothing else). I’ve tried the CKEditor plugin, even copied its code from another site I have where it works, but with no avail. On that note, even though I am using the newest version of WordPress, such has 2 tabs in the post section: visual and html. This one doesn’t show either of them.
    Now, I am familiar with using html, however, when I type it all out, there’s a huge space between the title and the body of my post.
    What I’ve tried (but to no avail):
    1)Installed and activated the CKEditor plugin, even copied its code from another site I have where it works…didn’t work.
    2)Installed another template…didn’t solve the problem.
    3)Deactivated some plugins, thinking maybe they’re conflicting with something…nothing.
    4)Installed and activated WP Editor, figuring if I’m going to have to post in code, I may as well use something designed for code…places a huge space between the title and the text.
    5)Tried asking a WP contact us site about the question only to find that if I get one that works, I’d have to pay $50.
    Any free suggestions?

    • Mevermind, we figured it out.
      The problem was real simple that nobody thought to look for until one person found it. I thought I’d share it with y’all in case anybody on here’s having the same issue.

      1) Go to your “Users” tab on the side.
      2) Click on your username
      3) On the “Profile” page, see where it says “Visual Editor”? UNCHECK the box that says “Disable the visual editor when writing”.

      Now look at your posting page and you’ll see everything has returned.