Your WordPress website not loading is the last thing you want to happen. Occasionally through it does happen for a variety of reasons. In this article we’ll go through some of the most common reasons and how to fix them.
Prevention is better than cure so I’ll discuss ways to prevent your website going down in the future.
This article is for people using a hosting account and hosting their own version of WordPress. If you are using WordPress.com and having issues then please check the DownDetector website for WordPress here: https://downdetector.com/status/wordpresscom/
Let’s dive in to the reasons WordPress is down and the solutions to get your WordPress website back up and running.
Table of Contents
- Reason 1: Expired Domain
- Reason 2: Server is down or crashed
- Reason 3: Problem with the hosting account
- Reason 4: Code is broken
- Reason 5: Out of memory / disk space
- Reason 6: Database is down
- Reason 7: SSL certificate has expired
- Reason 8: Third party API is down
- Reason 9: Plugin / Theme conflict
- Reason 10: Hack, DDoS, Malware, Ransomware
- Find and fix issues before they happen
- Final Thoughts
Reason 1: Expired Domain
Your website domain maps the name of your website to the IP address of the web server running your website. If you domain expires, even though your web server is running normally no-one can get to it via the website name.
Expired domains will have a grace period before they become available for purchase by others. To resolve this issue, simply renew your domain with the registration company from which you originally purchased it.
Enabling auto-update for domain registration is a recommended option to ensure peace of mind and avoid future expiration troubles.
Reason 2: Server is down or crashed
The web server or the application server running your WordPress site is down or crashed. This could be for a number of reasons such:
- you have exceeded your quotas on your hosting account (memory, disc space, network bandwidth)
- non-technical issues with your hosting account (e.g. non-payment)
- temporary technical issues the hosting company is experiencing (e.g. DDoS, hacking attempts)
Check with customer service and if necessary ask them to restart the web server hosting your website.
I find that asking customer service to restart the web server can fix some technical issues that are related to changed configuration (e.g. new or updated SSL certificates not working).
Reason 3: Problem with the hosting account
It’s possible your hosting server is having technical issues such as hardware failure (servers, routers, hard drives) or hacking attempts on their servers or networking issues.
If you suspect the issue is with your hosting account, you can check their server status page (if available) or contact customer support to inquire about any ongoing technical issues.
In the event that the hosting server is experiencing problems, there’s nothing you can do to fix it yourself except wait for them to resolve the issue.
If you frequently encounter such problems, it might be worth considering migrating your account to a more reliable hosting provider.
Reason 4: Code is broken
If you modified your WordPress code it can potentially break your website. Similarly, issues may arise if there are problems with configuration files like
wp-config.php , resulting in the inability to log into the database.
If you think code changes are the reason you site is broken you should revert the changes to see if that fixes the problem.
Alternatively, restore a known good backup of your website to bring it back to a functioning state.
In some cases, the problem might arise due to a newer version of PHP installed by your hosting provider, which conflicts with your existing code base. To address this, check your admin tool to determine the PHP version in use. If possible, try reverting to the previous version to see if it resolves the issue.
Lastly, reaching out to customer support, particularly their technical support team, can be helpful in diagnosing the problem.
Reason 5: Out of memory / disk space
Hosting accounts give you a fixed amount of memory and disc space your website can use. Going over the quota can cause problems with your website, or in the worst case, cause your website to go down.
Most hosting accounts provide an admin section where you can check your quotas. If you suspect a quota issue, use a file manager to delete unnecessary files and free up disk space.
To address memory issues, try disabling non-critical plugins to identify if any of them are causing memory problems.
Performing a database cleanup can help reduce resource usage. Hosting services often offer database maintenance and management tools to assist you with this.
Alternatively, you can install performance plugins that automatically maintain your WordPress database and remove outdated data on a regular basis.
The SiteGround Optimizer plugin works on any WordPress website and can automate some maintenance tasks such as database cleanup.
Reason 6: Database is down
The usual reason your database will go down is lack of resources, either memory or more likely disk space. Other possible reasons are configuration issues or hardware failure/technical problems.
Check you have enough resources (disk space and memory) available on your account. See solutions provided above (Reason 5).
Alternatively, could any code modifications either manually or through updates have caused issues with your database?
Check with customer support if there are any issues with the database as your website is probably using a shared database server.
Reason 7: SSL certificate has expired
It’s possible that your SSL certificate, which ensures the encryption and security of your website, has expired. These certificates require regular renewal. Let’s Encrypt certificates, which are free to generate, typically have a validity period of three months.
Certificates from other issuers can last for twelve months or longer.
If your SSL certificate has expired, it is recommended to renew or replace it.
Alternatively, it is not recommended, but you have the option to remove SSL from your website. However, keep in mind that this will make your website less secure and more vulnerable to hackers, malware, and ransomware gangs.
Reason 8: Third party API is down
Does your website rely on third-party APIs? You might think the answer is no, but you could be surprised.
Here are some features that may use third-party API’s for their normal functioning:
- Ad banners (such as Google Adsense or other ad networks)
- Google Fonts (probably won’t break your site, but can impact its appearance)
- Plugins that fetch files from third-party websites
- Social media sharing features that make API calls to social media platforms
These problems can be hard for non-technical people to fix. I suggest gradually disabling a plugin you suspect to see if it fixes the problem.
If you are unable to access your website, check your hosting account for options to disable plugins using their tools.
Once plugins are disabled and you can access your WordPress admin dashboard, gradually re-enable plugins to identify the one causing the problem.
WordPress itself should not encounter third-party API issues, so it’s likely one of the following:
- Plugins (most likely culprit)
Reason 9: Plugin / Theme conflict
Sometimes, conflicts can arise between your WordPress theme and certain plugins, especially if the plugin is a free version that hasn’t undergone thorough testing or isn’t fully compatible with the latest version of WordPress or the PHP version on your server.
Ensure your theme and plugins are up-to-date.
If the problem persists, temporarily disable your plugins. Alternatively, you can switch to a different theme temporarily.
If your website is still not working check the PHP version has not been updated. Incompatibility issues may arise if one or more of your plugins or your theme is not compatible with the latest PHP version. Consider downgrading your PHP version to the previous one and wait for a compatible version of your theme or plugins.
Reason 10: Hack, DDoS, Malware, Ransomware
Your site may have been targeted by hackers, resulting in unauthorized access, encryption of content, code modifications that break your site, or the installation of malware on your server.
Alternatively, a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack may be overwhelming your server, causing it to crash or become unresponsive.
Restore a backup of your website.
If you are unable to do so because the server is unresponsive, contact customer support at your hosting provider to report the attack. They can assist in resetting the server for you.
If you suspect that your site has been compromised or attacked, consider rolling back to a previously known good version of your website.
Find and fix issues before they happen
Before a website goes down, it often becomes slow or unresponsive. Finding and fixing a slow loading WordPress website can help prevent future website failures.
In my detailed article on slow-loading WordPress websites, I cover the problems and their corresponding fixes. Here’s a quick summary:
- Outdated or poorly coded software (theme and plugins)
- Too many plugins
- Database is not maintained
- Poor hosting provider (cheap hardware, insufficient quotas for memory and disc space)
It’s crucial to optimize your website for speed, responsiveness, and quick loading. Not only does it improve the user experience, but it also plays a significant role in Google’s ranking algorithm.
I hope you found this article informative and useful.
Here is a quick recap:
- Expired asset (Domain or SSL certificate)
- Out of date software (Theme or plugins)
- Server has failed (Web server, application server or database server)
- Code is broken (manually updated code, updated plugin or theme or PHP version updated)
- Hosting account problems (Quota issue on your account, maintenance service/networking issues)
- Third-party files or API’s
- Hacked website
Many of the issues that can cause your website to go down can be prevented by choosing a reliable hosting provider from the start. Opting for the cheapest option may not be the wisest choice, especially if your website generates a significant portion of your income.
Personally, I recommend SiteGround. I have used it for this site and previous websites, and I have found it to be highly reliable. Their customer service is responsive and efficient, often resolving technical problems within minutes.
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