Lee Odden

5 Ways to Repair a Broken WordPress Installation

Lee Odden     Blogging Strategy

Broken WordPressWordPress, like any software, has the ability to break and that then can cause a blog owner quite a bit of anxiety. This can be caused by plugins not working properly, file corruption, database problems, or many other things. Even though your data is usually just fine, having a blog down is not what a blog owner wants.

Here are 5 things you can do to try to fix a broken WordPress Install.

Before trying to fix any issues, make sure to back up your blog! The fixes below should not cause any harm, but it’s always better to have a backup you don’t need than not to have a backup when you need it.

Items to back up:

  • Your /wp-content/ folder
  • Your blog’s database.

1. Disable Plugins

Plugins add a lot of additional features and functionality to a blog but can cause also cause unexpected issues such as admin pages that show nothing but a white screen, slow loading pages, or PHP error messages on public facing pages.

To disable plugins you can go to the plugins screen on the admin side, select all, and then disable them. Once disabled, go back through and ensure the issue is gone. Then, enable the plugins one at a time until you find the one causing the issue.

If for some reason you can’t get to the plugins page, you can FTP into your blog and rename the plugins folder. The next time that you try to load the plugins page in WordPress, it’ll not be able to locate the plugins folder and de-activate all plugins. Renaming the folder back will bring all the plugins back but keep them deactivated. Then, enable the plugins one at a time until you find the one causing the issue.

Once the plugin with the issue is located, you can choose to remove it or check the plugins homepage for updates.

2. Check Your Config File

If your blog is not loading at all, and you see an error message that says ‘cannot connect to database,’ connect to the site via FTP and check the wp-config.php file to ensure the username, password and database names are correct. If it is, and you’re still having issues, contact your hosting provider to see if there are any database related changes or issues that you should know about.

3. Re-Install WordPress

Most of the WordPress files can be re-installed without causing any issues with the blog. The only directory NOT to touch is /wp-content/.

You can re-install WordPress’ files by logging into WordPress and going to Tools -> Upgrade and selecting the re-install option. WordPress will use the built-in updater to re-install all core files but not touch any theme or plugin files.

If you can’t use the built-in WordPress tool to re-install WordPress, you can upload the files via FTP. Just be sure not to overwrite the /wp-content/ folder as this contains your theme, upload, and plugins folder.  The best solution is to first delete the old files before uploading the new ones.

4. Repair Database Tables

If your problem doesn’t appear to be with a plugin or the core WordPress files, you can always try to repair the database tables via phpMyAdmin.

Log into the blog’s database via phpMyAdmin, check all the database tables, and select Repair. You can also choose to optimize them as well.

To get access to your blogs phpMyAdmin, contact the hosting provider.

5. Something Else Is Wrong?

If the blogs issue still exists then it’s time to head over to the WordPress support forums and ask for help or do a search on the error message, or problem, and see if someone else is having the issue. Chances are you aren’t the only one and the solution is just waiting for you to find it.

In my experiences with WordPress, there have been very few big issues. At times a plugin has gone rogue, or comments have disappeared, but a few maintenance items and things have gone back to normal with no loss of posts or comments.

WordPress is a smart blogging platform and most issues can be fixed quickly without any harm to the blog content.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. If your design goes haywire, make sure you check you’ve included the tags in the right place.

    Had a fail on mine a while ago that took a while to find.

  2. Hi,

    the dashboard of my wordpress went south for some reason. The only thing that works now in my dashboard are “dashboard” button itself (but none of the dashboard submenus, and the “Profile” menu section.
    Any ideas how this could be fixed? I can’t access the plugins, etc.

    • Avatar Thomas McMahon says

      Disable all plugins and see if the issue goes away. If so, re-enable them one by one. Sounds like one of the plugins is causing issues.

  3. Thank you. Fixed my site with step 1.

  4. my problem’s cause was the first step. i have installed a new plugin called frontpage slider then all my sections in writing post gone. then i red a blog saying disable all plugins then reactivate them one by one. i did it and my theme corrupted. only header and a small part of body is loading. any other themes working well. what should i do?

  5. I cannot access the dashboard of my site, though the front of the site continues to work flawlessly. I’ve been unable to update or make changes for several weeks. I’ve tried uploading all the PHP files again with no luck. Again, the site works fine on the front end for all the users — it is a dashboard issue.

    Here is the error message I get upon logon to the admin area:

    (1) This appears:

    Database Upgrade Required

    WordPress has been updated! Before we send you on your way, we have to upgrade your database to the newest version.

    The upgrade process may take a little while, so please be patient.

    (2) This appears when I click the button:

    Fatal error: Call to undefined method wpdb::tables() in /home/freeprod/public_html/blog/wp-admin/includes/upgrade.php on line 1403

    Thanks to anyone who can help!


  6. Avatar Thomas McMahon says

    I’d suggest posting over at the official WordPress forums for support as I havent’ run across these issues so I’m not sure the best answer.

  7. I could have just saved myself several hours of hair-tearing, if I’d read this first! Ironically, the plugin causing my problem was one to put the blog into maintenance mode, which I did so that I could work on problems with an entirely different plugin. However, having started maintenance mode I couldn’t get back in, myself. And since WPs own maintenance mode hadn’t been triggered, the usual methods didn’t work. I was presented with a blank white screen wherever I tried and as whomever I tried to get in as.

    So I spent a few hours reading PHP (which I don’t write) and experimenting with my database via PHPAdmin (also scary) and failed to make this darn thing work, whatever, even having re-initialized the database record and then renaming the record out of the way entirely.

    Then I came here and read about renaming the plugins directory, getting back in, and disabling the offending plugin. End of problem. I’m now apparently back where I was, and the offending maintenance-mode plugin has been deleted with great satisfaction. Thanks for that info, which I hope will solve future plugin problems too. Amazing how it’s the little, easy things that sometimes solve the big problems. Thanks!

  8. Hi
    Love your site – the forum is down so am asking your help with this problem

    uploaded the flex theme package and I get this error when I am trying to upload my own background ”
    Fatal Error: Could not locate wp-load.php