WordPress 5.3 introduced a great feature: when an update causes an issue, it enters a special recovery mode and sends you an email. That’s great, unless……
You don’t get the email – then what do you do?
Your site is now offline displaying “The site is experiencing technical difficulties. Please check your site admin email inbox for instructions”. You should have received an email similar to that below:
Since WordPress 5.2 there is a built-in feature that detects when a plugin or theme causes a fatal error on your site, and notifies you with this automated email.
In this case, WordPress caught an error with one of your plugins or theme, plugin name or theme.
First, visit your website (https://yourwebsite.com) and check for any visible issues. Next, visit the page where the error was caught (https://youwebsite.com/url and check for any visible issues.
Please contact your host for assistance with investigating this issue further.
If your site appears broken and you can’t access your dashboard normally, WordPress now has a special “recovery mode”. This lets you safely login to your dashboard and investigate further.
Special one-off login for your site
To keep your site safe, this link will expire in 1 day. Don’t worry about that, though: a new link will be emailed to you if the error occurs again after it expires.
Specific details of the error
The email is really helpful:
- It provides a link so you can still access the backend
- Details what has caused the issue
This would be really helpful and will give you all the details to identify the plugin or theme that is causing the issue and making it super easy to fix. But, what can you do if the email does not get delivered or goes to an old email address?
If you can, login to your control panel and look for the error_log file, this should detail the error. You might need to turn on debug mode in WordPress, so it captures all the details:
Turn on debug mode
By default, the debug mode in WordPress is turned off. As we want to try and find the cause of an issue, we want to turn this on so as much information as possible is captured in the error logs.
To turn on debug mode you need to open the wp-config.php file and change:
define( 'WP_DEBUG', false );
define( 'WP_DEBUG', true);
Check your PHP Version
We also recommend that your check your PHP version, WordPress now recommends your site uses PHP7.3 or higher. You can check your version of PHP by creating a file e.g. info.php with the following code:
<?php phpinfo(); //PHP function to get php information
To view the version of PHP simply visit https://yoururl.com/info.php. If the version of PHP is less than version 7.0 you should try upgrading the version via your control panel. Most hosting providers allow you to choose the version of PHP. If not, you may need to contact you hosting provide to update the version for you.
Roll back WordPress via FTP
Roll Back WordPress via FTP
Open an FTP session to your site and delete the following directories:
Delete all the files in the root except:
Download the previous version of WordPress by visiting https://en-gb.wordpress.org/download/releases/ and downloading the previous version to your computer. Next unzip the download and upload the files via FTP, if prompted overwrite any files.
If that resolves your issue, click here to find out how to update the admin contact details and setup PostSMTP so you can receive emails if there are any further issues. Do this before running any more upgrades/updates.
Resolve Plugin Issues
The quickest way to resolve an issue with plugins is:
- Open an FTP session to your site
- Download the wp-content/plugins directory
- Once downloaded delete the contents of the plugins directory
Check the site, if it is working upload each plugin in turn, refreshing the site after each plugin has uploaded. As soon as one stops the site from working delete it, just make sure you keep going uploading each one as there could be an issue with more than one plugin.
Now your issue is resolved, click here to find out how to update the admin contact details and setup PostSMTP so you can receive emails if there are any further issues. Do this before running any more upgrades/updates.
Resolve Theme Issues
You can repeat the process used for the plugins directory to resolve theme issues:
- Open an FTP session to your site
- Open the wp-content/themes directory
- MAKE SURE THERE IS MORE THAN 1 THEME if not:
- Download the Twenty Nineteen theme from here
- Unpack the files on your local computer
- Upload the folder to wp-content/themes
- Delete the current theme folder
Check the site, if it is working click here to find out how to update the admin contact details and setup PostSMTP so you can receive emails if there are any further issues. Do this before running any more upgrades/updates.