If you just visited your WordPress website and saw a scary Fatal Error message that looks something like this:
Fatal error: Some message here about what it cant do /home/yourusername/public_html/wp-content/plugins/plugin-folder-name/plugin-file.php on line ###
Don’t panic! *I’m going to show you the easiest way to diagnose and solve this problem*.
However, if you prefer to not have to deal with this, just sign up for WordPress website support and have your new on call developer fix it for you!
Let’s Diagnose This!
This error is usually a result of a plugin or theme. As indicated by the last bit in the error message shown above /plugins/….
They could be conflicting with each other or a new WordPress update. It could also be caused by a failed plugin/theme update.
Or the fact that your plugins and/or theme need to be updated.
Usually when this happens, you will be unable to access your WP Admin.
Therefore, we will need to access the database in order to get this done.
cPanel Access to phpMyAdmin
- Type “PHP” in the search bar
- Click on the “phpMyAdmin” icon
WP Engine Access to phpMyAdmin
After selecting the “Install” you want to work with, if you have multiple, follow these steps…
- Click on “phpMyAdmin”
Working in phpMyAdmin
Once you’re in the phpMyAdmin you will see a dashboard that looks similar to this below. There are different versions which change the UI of the control panel but the steps will be the same.
- Click on your Database name in the left column
- Click on “wp_options” in the left column
- Need to move to page 2 by clicking on the right arrow
NOTE: Please do not do step 4 and 5 consecutively. Use the Fatal error message on the screen to determine where you need to start. If it’s a plugin, then proceed with step 4, if it’s a theme then you’ll want to go to step 5 below.
- Find the table for “active_plugins” we will edit this table in next section
- Find the tables for “template” and “stylesheet” we will edit these table in the next section as well
Clearing Content in Tables in part 4 and 5 from above
- Click “Edit”
- Cut all content (control+c or command+c) in the big box and save it to a note pad and delete from the box
- Click “Go”
Next Step: Did this resolve the problem?
Once you’ve completed these steps above, you will want to refresh your website homepage and see if it pulls up.
Warning: Without your theme and plugins, you site will look much different, but the point is to diagnose the issue.
If the site is loading, you now know for sure that the problem is either your theme or plugins or both.
Great but now what?
With the problem theme and/or plugin disabled, you will be able to access the WP Admin again.
If it was a plugin issue and you followed step 4 above, you will need to reactivate your plugins, except for the one with the issue. At least until you’ve done the following recommendations.
You’ll want to check your updates. Are there any for your theme / plugins. Is there a new WordPress update that just completed?
You may need to reach out to the plugin / theme developers via their support forms to see if anybody else has reported the same issue. If not, be the first!
Getting the plugins and themes deactivated is the easy part. Really figuring out how to solve the problem is where it gets tricky.
I will say that in most cases a quick update will resolve whatever issue there was, but in those cases that it does not, you’ll probably want to reach out to your developer to help resolve the problem for good.