5 Common WordPress Errors and How to Fix Them

With over 30 million active properties, WordPress is the most commonly-used platform for building websites, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s open-source, meaning anyone can contribute or expand upon it — and thousands do! Plus, there are seemingly endless plugins that make adding even complex functionality a simple process. Using it is so straightforward that many people can launch their own site without any professional help. 

But what happens when things become a little less easy? When things don’t operate smoothly, advertising revenue can plummet, customers can struggle to access important information, eCommerce sales can come to a halt, and more. 

And there are also long-term impacts of a broken site, like a drop in search engine rankings or loss of reputation and trust from visitors and customers. 

Because of WordPress’ wide network of passionate contributors, the core of the platform — as well as popular plugins — are updated regularly to protect against security threats and keep up with the latest technologies. But things can still go wrong with individual sites from time to time. 

Let’s take a look at some of the most common WordPress problems and learn how to fix them so you can keep your website online and error free!

Five common WordPress errors and their solutions

1. Your connection is not private

Not too long ago, the internet was a lot less secure. It was relatively easy for bad actors to intercept information sent between visitors and websites for nefarious purposes. To combat this widespread issue, some browsers now require sites to use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates to encrypt data. 

When browsers load a website without an SSL certificate, they’ll display a message that says, “Your connection is not private.” While visitors can choose to proceed past this message, they’re unlikely to do so. 

the "your connection is not private" error

This error could also appear if you have an SSL certificate that’s not set up properly. For example, if you’re embedding content from a third party or if you miss updating some of your URLs (like media files) to https. This is called “mixed content” and can still display a warning message to visitors.

Thankfully, the fix is usually pretty easy. You simply need to get an SSL certificate — available from most hosts, as well as other providers — then configure it properly to avoid mixed content warnings.

Experiencing this issue? We’ve got it covered. Get detailed instructions for solving the “Your connection is not private” error on WordPress. Plus, you’ll learn how to get a free SSL certificate. 

2. This account has been suspended

Unfortunately, not all error messages have a clear cause and solution. That’s the case with the “This account has been suspended” error. 

This message is usually displayed when your web host has disabled your account, but they can do so for any number of reasons. From Terms of Service (TOS) violations to an overdue balance on your account, the solution here usually involves contacting your host to understand and rectify the issue.

It may not be the most fun hour you’ll spend, but you can typically solve this problem pretty quickly.

Sometimes, however, the cause of this error message is more nefarious, and this requires considerably more attention on your part. If your website has been hacked or otherwise compromised, your host may have shut it down to protect the other sites on your shared server, along with their own infrastructure. 

When a WordPress site becomes compromised, you’ll need to thoroughly review your files and database for malicious code. It may be time to use some heavy-duty malware scanning tools for WordPress or employ a professional team to detect and eliminate the issue.

If you’re encountering this, time’s not on your side. Act fast to restore your site and your relationship with your host. 

Not sure where to start? We do. Check out our article about solving the “This account has been suspended” error in WordPress

3. Error establishing database connection

Some error messages are more common than others, and the Error Establishing Database Connection is one that many web developers are familiar with. The message itself is straightforward and points to the problem at hand: the WordPress website can’t connect to its database and therefore can’t function properly.

While there are several reasons you might encounter this error, the most common one is a problem with the WordPress configuration file. The first step in addressing this is to gather your database information. If you don’t know how to find this, your hosting provider’s support team can help.

Then, check your WordPress configuration file, called wp-config.php. You can do this through your host’s cPanel or by using file transfer protocol (FTP). Once you find the file, look for lines like the following:

define('B_NAME', 'YourDatabaseName');
define('DB_USER', 'YourDatabaseUser');
define('DB_PASSWORD’, 'YourDatabasePassword');
define('DB_HOST', 'YourDatabaseHost');

Confirm that all of that information matches what you gathered from your host. If any of it’s incorrect, update it to the correct values, taking care to ensure that the single quotation marks and parentheses remain in the right order, as they are above.

For more details about updating the wp-config.php file, along with other potential causes of this problem, review our full guide on how to fix the “Error establishing database connection” issue in WordPress

4. A website security warning

A security warning on your site can really make your heart sink. This can vary a bit, but typically looks like a bright red page with alarming icons and a message that your site’s not safe. If this happens, it can quickly tank your traffic, damage your reputation, and even have long-term consequences on search engine rankings.

This one is particularly troublesome because the cause (and solution) is not always clear. Worse still, your website and its content may not even have anything to do with it.

This warning appears when your website has landed on Google’s blocklist. As stated in our article on how to remove your WordPress site from Google’s blocklist

“Google’s blocklist (also called Google Safe Browsing) is a database of all the websites that Google and other search engines think are harmful or dangerous. It helps protect more than four billion devices by notifying searchers about malicious content and webmasters about hacked sites. This impacts Google Search, Google Chrome, Android devices, Gmail, and Google Ads.” 

Google’s reputation is tied, in part, to a safe experience for its users. If someone clicks on a search result or visits a site that leads to a security breach, it could reflect poorly on them. So Google invests heavily in protecting users from content that could harm their computers or steal their personal information.

Through no real fault of your own, your WordPress site can be compromised by a third party and wind up on Google’s bad side. There are a variety of causes, but your site will usually be blocklisted if: 

  1. Malware is detected 
  2. An advertisement is directing to a malicious site 
  3. There are unsafe plugins
  4. The site uses “black hat” SEO techniques
  5. There’s plagiarized or copyrighted content 

Fixing this type of error involves identifying and removing malware or other offending content and resubmitting your site to Google. 

Experiencing this issue? Act fast. Read our full guide on removing your WordPress site from Google’s Blocklist, including step-by-step instructions for removing malware and submitting your site to Google.

5. The “Briefly Unavailable for Scheduled Maintenance. Check Back in a Minute” error

Let’s say that you visit your website and receive a notice that says “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute.” Or maybe you see a customized message like, “Under construction — we’ll be back soon!” This is an indication that your site is in maintenance mode. 

"Briefly available for scheduled maintenance" message

Site owners can enable maintenance mode manually, but this message also briefly appears when a plugin or other function is updating on the site. This typically lasts for a few seconds. 

The problem occurs when a site gets stuck in maintenance mode. Usually, WordPress automatically activates and deactivates maintenance mode by placing and removing a .maintenance file in the root directory. But if an interruption occurs during the update process, the file may not be removed. 

To solve this, you simply need to restore a backup or access your site’s root directory and manually remove the .maintenance file. 

Get step-by-step instructions for solving this issue and tips to avoid it in the future: How to fix the “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute.” issue in WordPress

Backups: a WordPress site’s best friend

No matter the issue or error, an up-to-date backup of your WordPress site is like a giant “undo” button. We all wish we had an undo button in real life, but it’s a reality for WordPress site owners.

Backups can save you countless hours of troubleshooting issues, reading support documentation, and tracking down expensive developers. 

Built by the people behind WordPress.com, Jetpack Backup works seamlessly in real-time, so that a copy of your site is saved every time anything is changed. Plus, it comes with an activity log so you can identify exactly when something went wrong, learn what caused it, and restore your site in full to the point before the error occurred. 

It doesn’t require complicated code or messing with files — you can bring your site back to life, even if it’s completely down, with just a single click. And with the Jetpack mobile app, you can restore on the go, at any time of day or night. 

Learn more about WordPress backups with Jetpack

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Rob Pugh profile
Rob Pugh

Rob has worked in marketing and product development for more than 15 years, primarily at Automattic (Jetpack), Mailchimp, and UPS. Since receiving a Master of Science in Marketing Degree from Johns Hopkins University, he’s focused on delivering products that delight people and solve real problems.

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