How to Fix “This Site is Experiencing Technical Difficulties” in WordPress

No one wants to run into issues with their WordPress site. It can be even more frustrating when you’re unsure what the problem is or what’s causing it. This is typically the case with the “this site is experiencing technical difficulties” error.

If you’ve come across this message, don’t panic. There are a handful of methods that you can use to get your site up and running again. 

In this post, we’ll explain why you might encounter this error on your WordPress website. Then, we’ll walk you through the methods you can use to fix it. We’ll also show you how to prevent it from happening again. 

Why you might get the WordPress error “this site is experiencing technical difficulties”

When you see the “this site is experiencing technical difficulties” WordPress error message, it usually means that your website is inaccessible on both the front and back end. Starting with WordPress 5.2, instead of getting the White Screen of Death (WSoD), you’ll now see this message when experiencing PHP errors.

When your visitors try to access your site, they’ll see something like this:

this site is experiencing technical difficulties WordPress message

On your end, the wording may vary. For example, the message might read: “This site is experiencing technical difficulties. Please check your site admin email inbox for instructions.”

If so, you can check your email to find information on how to proceed. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, and you may not receive any guidance at all.

The most common cause of this WordPress error is a conflict with your theme or plugins. Not all plugins and themes interact properly. If two extensions contain conflicting code, it can lead to a wide range of issues.

If you’re seeing this message immediately after installing or activating a new tool on your site, this is likely the cause of the error. This can also happen after updating WordPress core. 

There’s also a chance that there’s an issue with your server, rather than your website. Alternatively, it may mean a hacker has infected your site with malware.

Regardless of the cause behind the error message, the important thing is to be able to fix it as quickly as possible. Fortunately, there are multiple solutions you can try.

These range from simple fixes, like clearing your cache or restoring a backup, to more technical and complicated measures, like adding code to your site files. Fortunately, each method is relatively easy to execute with the right guidance. 

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How to fix the “this site is experiencing technical difficulties” issue in WordPress

Now that we’ve covered what this error means and what might have caused it, let’s get to work on resolving it. Below are eight ways to fix the “this site is experiencing technical difficulties” issue in WordPress.

1. Clear your cache and refresh your website

There’s a good chance that it’s going to take more than clearing your cache to resolve this error. However, given that it only takes a few minutes, it’s worth a shot.

You can clear your cache from the settings of your browser. For instance, if you’re using Google Chrome, you can navigate to the three vertical dots in the upper right-hand corner of a new tab, then select More toolsClear browsing data.

clearing browser cache on Google Chrome

Under the Basic tab, make sure all three options are selected, then click on the Clear data button. Now, return to your WordPress site and try refreshing the page. 

2. Restore a backup of your site

The next step you can take is to restore a backup of your site. Most of the time, this can help you get rid of the WordPress error “this site is experiencing technical difficulties”. Note that, once your site is up and running again, you’ll need to spend some time figuring out what caused the issue. 

If you’ve recently added code to your website or implemented an update, this change may be the reason you’re encountering this error. Restoring a recent version of your site can get it back to how it was before you implemented the faulty or conflicting code.

There are a handful of manual methods you can use to restore a backup of your site, like using a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) client or the cPanel in your hosting account. However, the quickest way to do this is by using a plugin like Jetpack Backup.

Jetpack Backup homepage

This powerful tool makes it easy to create a secure copy of your site, including your files and databases. It also enables you to restore your backups in just a few clicks. You can use Jetpack Backup even if you’re not able to access your dashboard, which is usually the case with the “this site is experiencing technical difficulties” WordPress error. 

After you install and activate the plugin, you can connect it to a account. Once you log in, you can view a list of backups that you’ve created thus far. You’ll also see options for downloading or restoring them and can view an activity log to keep track of site changes.

3. Turn on WordPress debug mode

If you don’t have a backup to restore, there are a few more technical approaches you can take. To learn more about the error and what’s causing it, you can try enabling WordPress debug mode.

This built-in troubleshooting feature can help you diagnose the issue by revealing any underlying PHP errors. To turn it on, you’ll need to edit your wp-config.php file. You can do this via your File Manager in cPanel, or by using an FTP client like FileZilla

Once you’re connected to your site, navigate to public_html, then locate and open the wp-config.php file.

wp-config.php file highlighted in File Manager

Within the file, you’ll need to add the following lines of code anywhere before the line “/* That’s all, stop editing! Happy blogging. */”:

define(‘WP_DEBUG’, true);
define(‘WP_DEBUG_LOG’, true);
define( ‘WP_DEBUG_DISPLAY’, false );

When you’re done, save your changes. Then, navigate back to your WordPress site to refresh it.

Now you might see a message that looks something like: “stdClass::$plugin in /www/WordPress/public_html/wp-contents/plugins/listen/class-wp.php on line 109”. In this case, you might be able to narrow down the issue to a specific plugin and line of code. Alternatively, you can view your debug.log by browsing to the wp-content folder of your site’s root directory. 

4. Check your WordPress activity log

If turning on debugging mode didn’t provide you with any identifiable errors that could be causing the “this site is experiencing technical difficulties” issue, you can also check your WordPress activity log. The easiest way to keep track of your site’s activity and view the logs is to use a plugin. 

As we mentioned earlier, you can do this with Jetpack’s activity log. To access this feature, you can log into your account and navigate to My Sites, then browse to JetpackActivity Log.

Jetpack activity log in WordPress

The free plan lets you see the 20 most recent events, while premium plans extend that to all events through the past year, depending on the one you choose. 

Another option may be to go through your hosting panel. The process of accessing and viewing this log varies depending on your web host. Therefore, it’s best to check with your hosting provider for specific instructions. 

5. Upgrade your PHP version

Another reason you may encounter this error message is if you’re running an outdated version of PHP. WordPress currently recommends PHP 7.4, so web developers have started using the new functions available with PHP 7. 

Therefore, if you’re dealing with an error in a log file, it might be due to an old, deprecated PHP function. Also, note that any PHP version older than 5.6 will no longer work.

To check the current PHP version of your WordPress site, log into your cPanel hosting dashboard and navigate to the Select PHP Version tool.

Select PHP Version option in cpanel

On the next screen, you can see what your current version is. You can choose a new one from the drop-down menu.

changing PHP version in cpanel

The steps for viewing and upgrading your PHP version vary depending on which web host you use. If you’re unsure how to go about it, we recommend reaching out to them for support or more specific guidance. 

Increasing your PHP memory limit

It’s worth noting that, while not a common cause of this specific WordPress error, it’s possible that the issue is with your PHP memory limit. This limit is assigned by default when you first  create a WordPress installation. 

If you have a lot of large files on your website, like images and videos, you might exceed your PHP memory limit. This in turn may cause issues and errors. Fortunately, it is possible to increase your PHP memory limit.

To do so, navigate to your wp-config.php file via FTP or File Manager. Then, click to open the file and search for the following line of code:

define(‘WP_MEMORY_LIMIT’, ’32M’);

You can change the “32” to something higher, like:

define(‘WP_MEMORY_LIMIT’, ‘128M’);

When you’re done, save your file. Then, try refreshing your site. 

6. Create a staging site

Before we get into troubleshooting your plugins and themes, you might want to create a staging site. This is essentially a safe testing environment that you can use to create a clone of your site in order to try different fixes.

This can help minimize the chances of you messing with a file or code that could end up making things worse. Instead, you can troubleshoot the error with peace of mind, knowing that your live site will remain untouched until you know what’s going on.

There are a handful of methods you can use to create a staging site. One option is to create a testing environment through your hosting provider. Many popular hosts include staging facilities in their plans.

creating a staging site in a hosting environment

Typically, you’ll be able to find this feature (if available) from your control panel dashboard under WordPress or Tools. Another option would be to launch a staging site manually. For a more detailed walkthrough, you can check out this guide to creating a staging site for WordPress

7. Troubleshoot for theme conflicts

If you’re still seeing the “this site is experiencing technical difficulties” message in WordPress, don’t worry. We have a few more methods to try. These will require a bit more time and work, but they can help you get to the root of the issue. 

First, you’ll want to see if your theme may be to blame. Unfortunately, if you can’t access your WordPress admin area, you won’t be able to switch themes through your dashboard.

Instead, you’ll need to access your site files via FTP or File Manager. Once you’ve connected to your site, browse to public_htmlwp-contentthemes, and locate the folder of your current theme.

themes folder accessed via FTP

Then, you’ll want to rename this folder. This will automatically deactivate your theme and activate a default one, like Twenty Nineteen or Twenty Twenty (assuming you have these themes installed on your site). You can right-click on the folder, then change the name to something like twentytwentyone-old

Next, navigate to your WordPress error page and refresh it. If you still see the error message, you can rule out your theme as being the culprit. Remember to change the theme folder name back to what it originally was to reactivate it.

On the other hand, if the error message is gone, you’ll know that there was an issue with your previous theme that needs resolving. If that’s the case, you might want to consider permanently switching themes or reaching out to the developer.

8. Troubleshoot for plugin conflicts

If your theme wasn’t the issue, the next troubleshooting step is to check your plugins. This will be the same process as it was for your theme, only with your plugins folder. 

To get started, navigate to public_htmlwp-contentplugins. Then, right-click on the plugin folder and select Rename. You can name it “plugins-old” or something similar.

renaming the plugins folder

This will (temporarily) deactivate all of your plugins. Then, refresh your WordPress page to determine whether the “this site is experiencing technical difficulties” message is still displayed. If it’s no longer there, you now know that the problem is with one of your plugins.

The next step is figuring out which plugin is causing the error. To do this, you’ll need to activate each plugin one at a time, refreshing the page between each one to see if the error reappears. Once you find the culprit, you can either find an alternative plugin or reach out to the developer for support.

How to avoid “this site is experiencing technical difficulties” in the future

Hopefully, at this point, you’ve successfully resolved this WordPress error. Unfortunately, this issue may crop up again in the future. 

Therefore, it’s important that you perform regular backups of your site. That way, if and when something does go wrong, you’ll have a recent version of your site to restore. 

This can also ensure that your visitors won’t reach an unavailable site while you’re troubleshooting the issue. You can create a staging site to identify and resolve the problem without causing interruption to your business. 

Manually creating backups on a regular basis can be time-consuming. Therefore, you should use an automated tool like Jetpack Backup.

As we discussed earlier, this powerful plugin can help you streamline the process of backing up and restoring your website. Plus, you can use the activity log to monitor your site and easily identify any recent changes that may have caused issues. 

Additionally, you’ll want to ensure that any new tool you want to add to your site is compatible with your current PHP version. You can do this by using the PHP Compatibility Checker plugin.

This tool works for any WordPress plugin or theme. You can use it to ensure that there are no harmful extensions on your site that may conflict with the PHP code. 

Finally, you’ll want to keep your WordPress site updated. This includes upgrading to the latest PHP version

Outdated sites are susceptible to a wide range of issues, including data breaches. Staying on top of the latest updates and releases can help safeguard your site and minimize plugin and theme conflicts. 

How to protect your WordPress site from technical errors

Performing an update on your website only to be met with an error message can be scary. This is especially true when it’s a vague one, like “this site is experiencing technical difficulties.” Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to fix it.

One of the quickest ways to resolve this issue is by restoring a backup of your site. You can also turn on debug mode and troubleshoot your plugins and themes to find the one that’s causing the issue. Additionally, you can check your current PHP version and upgrade it (if need be).

Performing regular site backups can help you resolve issues more efficiently in the future. You can use Jetpack Backup to automate the process, while ensuring that you always have a recent backup of your site to restore should anything go wrong. 

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Rob Pugh profile
Rob Pugh

Rob is the Marketing Lead for Jetpack. He has worked in marketing and product development for more than 15 years, primarily at Automattic, Mailchimp, and UPS. Since studying marketing at Penn State and Johns Hopkins University, he’s focused on delivering products that delight people and solve real problems.

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