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7 Things to Check for When Your WordPress Website Is Down

Things to Check for When Your WordPress Website Is Down

Since your WordPress site is continuously evolving, there’s always a chance of something happening that can cause it to stop functioning normally or go down. This can be anything from a bad plugin installation to a brute force attack. And while the occurrence of website downtime can be completely normal in some cases (i.e. during website maintenance), most of the time, this is something you want to prevent from happening.

Whether you’re unable to log into your WordPress dashboard, or your website is simply behaving strangely, it may be a signal that your site is experiencing downtime. Luckily, finding out the cause of this is relatively easy to do. Thus, we’ll be sharing some of the main things you should check for when your WordPress site is down. By doing so, you will quickly be able to find the root of the problem and perform all the steps necessary to resolve it so that your website can be up and running again in no time.

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Check All Your Connections

Check All Your Connections

This may be a bit like stating the obvious, but it’s important to point out nonetheless. First things first, you should check whether all your connections are working properly. This means making sure whether everything is plugged in correctly, including your connection ports and any other related sockets you may have. Rule out the possibility of an internet connection problem by also checking whether your wires and cables all work properly. You can also contact your local internet provider to see if they are perhaps experiencing a wider service interruption. It’s important to rule out the basics before moving on to check other, more complex things that could be causing the downtime.

Check Whether Your Site Is Really Down (Or if It’s Just You)

Check Whether Your Site Is Really Down

Sometimes, even if it seems like your site being down is a problem for everyone else, it can very well just be the issue from your end. Luckily, you can easily check this by going to one of the online services that are literally created for this purpose – to see whether your site is really down.

You can use tools like Down for Everyone or Just Me (the name of which makes it pretty self-explanatory), and Down.com. You will be able to enter your website’s URL and then you will receive a status report, letting you know if the problem is on your end or if anyone else is experiencing it as well. In the case of the latter, you might want to keep reading to look into some of the other possible reasons for your website’s downtime.

Check Your Domain Status

Check Your Domain Status

Another possible problem may come from your domain expiring and/or being hijacked by someone else. Your domain name does come with an expiry date after all, so if that’s the case with your domain, someone else might’ve grabbed a hold of it already. Or, your credentials were unsafe to begin with and someone has succeeded in gaining your domain access. Whatever the case may be, you can easily check your domain status by going to ICANN. This is an online tool that will allow you to enter your domain name, and after doing so, the tool will provide your essential domain information, including whether the domain is still active, its expiration date, and more.

See if Your Hosting Server Is Down for Maintenance

See if Your Hosting Server Is Down for Maintenance

Your hosting server being down can be one of the most common reasons why your WordPress site might be down as well. Namely, your hosting services are managed by your hosting provider, and there may be times when they need to go offline to perform server maintenance, including taking care of things like security, updating software, and similar tasks. Usually, your provider should notify you about such things in advance, but there may be times when they detect a sudden, unforeseen security issue (like a cyber-attack) and they need to quickly close down the server to fix this. Either way, your best bet is to contact your hosting service provider to check if the issue is coming from their end. If not, they still might be able to help you detect the problem.

Alternatively, the issue may lie in the poor hosting package that doesn’t provide complete uptime support or doesn’t notify you when the server is down. In that case, we recommend going for one of the more reliable WordPress hosting services. These hosts provide great managed hosting solutions to their customers and make sure to notify users if there is any server downtime. Furthermore, these services also allow you to check your hosting account status by accessing cPanel.

Check if There Are Any Theme or Plugin Conflicts

Check if There Are Any Theme or Plugin Conflicts

Having access to many great third-party WordPress themes and plugins is one of the main reasons why WordPress is such a flexible and scalable platform in the first place. Still, sometimes different theme and/or plugin conflicts can occur, which can also cause website downtime. Or, the plugins and/or themes you are using may be faulty or insecure to begin with, which can lead to website vulnerabilities and errors and, ultimately, it can result in your site going down.

So, first and foremost, you need to make sure the themes and plugins come from a reliable and reputable source, no matter if you’re using free or premium options. Then, you should ensure that they’re compatible with each other. Many of the reputable plugin (and theme) authors will make sure they’re cross-compatible with other well-known plugins, or at least report any known issues their tool may have with other plugins. So, you should look into that information before buying and/or downloading these types of tools – or simply contact the theme author and ask them about it directly.

Last but not least, ensure that all your themes and plugins are up to date. Just like the WordPress core itself, outdated themes and plugins tend to create breaches in security, and hackers are known to take advantage of that. Plugin and theme updates come with many bug and security fixes that prevent these issues from happening, so make sure you’re using the latest version of both your themes and plugins at all times.

See if It’s the WordPress Update Issue

See if It’s the WordPress Update Issue

Rather than your WordPress site being down, sometimes the issue may lie with WordPress not updating completely – which can cause your website to be inaccessible. When this happens, you will usually receive a “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance” error. The thing is, during the update, WordPress creates a temporary file called .maintenance to trigger the maintenance mode, and this file should get deleted automatically once the update ends. That being said, sometimes this update process can get interrupted due to a slow server response or memory problems. This can cause the site to get stuck in maintenance mode and the .maintenance file to remain on your server. You can try getting rid of this error by removing this file from your site entirely.

Some of the ways to do this include using the cPanel and an FTP client, like FileZilla. Alternatively, you could try solving this error by editing the wp-activate.php file that can be found in the root WordPress directory or simply perform a manual update.

For more info, we suggest that you read our article on how to fix the “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance” error. We also recommend learning how to properly update WordPress to prevent these issues from occurring altogether.

Check Whether Your Website Has Weak Security

Check Whether Your Website Has Weak Security

Aside from the possibility of a faulty theme or plugin jeopardizing your website’s security, other things can also put your website in danger of being hacked, like weak passwords or multiple people being able to access your admin account. And your website being hacked may very well be the reason for it being down in the first place.

In case you’ve been hacked, you need to change all your passwords immediately. Then, in case you have a backup of the previous version of your site, make sure to restore it from backup. And if you cannot locate and/or remove the hack on your own, we always recommend that you contact your hosting provider as they will most likely be able to help you out.

There are also many things you can do to prevent all this from happening and make sure your website is more secure overall. For one, you should choose a reliable WordPress hosting provider. Then, you can take care of things like installing a solid WordPress security plugin (like Sucuri or WordFence, for example), limiting login attempts, and adding two-factor authentication to every user that has access to your WordPress admin area. By implementing these strategies, you’ll be able to strengthen your website’s security and keep hackers at bay.

Finally, we suggest that you check out our ultimate WordPress security checklist for more info.

Wrapping Things Up

Many different things can cause website downtime – from faulty, outdated WordPress themes and plugins and server downtime to hacking attacks and intrusions. By figuring out the reason behind your website’s downtime, you’ll be that much closer to getting everything back up and running again. We advise you to go through each one of the steps we suggested above to get to the bottom of the problem as soon as possible.

Finally, in case you’re reading this article just as a precautionary measure, we highly recommend that you also check out these tips to prevent the downtime of your WordPress site. After all, preventing the problem is always better than fixing it once it occurs.

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