Help! My website is down

The WordPress white screen of death. Help my website is downAt some, point every website owner goes into panic mode. Your website is down! What’s wrong?

Is it a hosting issue?
Did you forget to renew your domain name?
Is there an outdated WordPress plugin?
Have you been hacked?!!
Are you seeing the WordPress white screen of death?

Don’t Panic

Web servers are quite often momentarily inaccessible due to maintenance and backups. Just wait a few minutes and try again. Take a deep breath and go make a cuppa tea.

Check for Updates

  • If you can access the WordPress admin area, check for any plugins that have an update notice and update them. Some plugins may become outdated and no longer work with a newer version of WordPress.
  • If you update a WordPress plugin that breaks your site, access the /wp-content/plugins directory on your server via FTP. Rename or delete the broken plugin and your site will be restored.
  • If your site went down when updating the WordPress core files by an automatic upgrade, try a manual WordPress update.

Is it a hosting issue?

Check out the host company’s run-time blog where they list any known issues that might impact your site. If your server isn’t listed with a known error and your site has been down for an hour, contact the host company’s support.

Last week we talked about Owning your own Website and having all your website documentation at your fingertips by creating a Website Essentials document that you keep in a dropbox folder. Knowing how to contact the host company and what your account login credentials are will lessen your stress when your website is down.

Your host support team should be able to identify the problem. They will be able to tell if you failed to renew the domain name, if the problem is coming from a code error on your site or if your site has been hacked. If they won’t help you, find a better host company!

Check the Domain

If you didn’t renew your domain name on time your site will be taken down, but there’s no need to panic. There is a grace period. If the time between when you noticed your site is down and when your domain should have been renewed is not too long, your domain will be on hold allowing you time to renew. Once your domain is renewed your site will be restored.

Scan for Malware

I highly recommend the premium WordPress plugin Backup Buddy. How much is your site, and the time to restore it, worth to you? The cost of a premium plugin won’t seem like much compared to that.

Not only does Backup Buddy take care of backing up your database and all files, it also has a malware scan option. Run the scan. If you find evidence that your site has been hacked contact your host company. They will want to clean any nefarious code from their servers as much as you do. Your host will be able to restore your site to a previous version, hopefully prior to the injection of code. If you have scheduled backups with Backup Buddy you can easily restore the site yourself. Knowing that you have regular backups will give you peace of mind when your site goes down.

[cross posted on the LearnWP Blog]

One comment on “Help! My website is down
  1. Jenny says:

    Thanks for the great tips!

    My site was hacked and it went down for 2 days before my customers told me about it. I promised myself to not let that happen again. I found this free site monitoring service that monitors my site and sends me alert emails when it goes down. It’s called Content Site Monitor (http://www.contentsitemonitor.com).

    Most web host company won’t inform you when your site goes down. It’s your own responsibility to monitor your own site.

    Now I sleep better knowing that I will get immediate notification when my site goes down again in the future.

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