WordPress FAQ: Troubleshooting a WordPress Install

Help! My WordPress install is borked and I don’t know how to fix it or even where to begin looking

This question is actually inspired by the support thread over at the WordPress Support Forums regarding a percieved bug in the Autosave feature in WordPress 2.1. In that thread, things got very heated as one camp was distraught while the other camp was trying to figure out what was going on and couldn’t duplicate the problem.

The rules of thumb when troubleshooting – whether yourself or by asking in the support forum, mailing lists or via consultants such as myself, is to provide the most complete information possible.

For instance, whether for WordPress or any other software, try to ascertain:

  1. Plugins installed and versions
  2. Theme used
  3. Browse, OS, version numbers
  4. Firefox extensions used, perhaps
  5. Can you reproduce on a different computer?

In the case of this support issue, it seems to me there is a plugin run afoul and I provided this approach:
Disable ALL plugins – particularly ANY plugin that MIGHT have javascript in use. Does this solve this problem? (Note: it will probably create errors on the template because now plugin functions aren’t available – don’t worry when you reactivate those things will be fixed).

If that fixes the issue, take the divide and conquer approach and reactivate half your plugins (that you were using). Does the problem come back? If no, activate half of what’s left. Repeat and rinse.

If you activate plugins and the problem does return, focus on that group of plugins. Deactivate half of them and check for the problem. Does it occur? Yes? No? And so on until you find the culprit.

If none of this solves the issue, kick your theme over to Kubrick (though I doubt this is a theme related issue since the error is in wp-admin but for due diligence, follow through and check it out).

I am 99.999% sure you will find the culprit.

Be methodical. Provide detailed info on how to reproduce.

Aaron Brazell

Aaron Brazell is a Baltimore, MD-based WordPress developer, a co-founder at WP Engine, WordPress core contributor and author. He wrote the book WordPress Bible and has been publishing on the web since 2000. You can follow him on Twitter, on his personal blog and view his photography at The Aperture Filter.

One thought on “WordPress FAQ: Troubleshooting a WordPress Install

  1. Timely article – I just upgraded my personal blog to 2.1.3 today. After the upgrade, I loaded the blog and was met w/ a blank page. Blech.

    A quick check of the error log told me what my culprit was. I needed to remove the following line from wp-settings.php:

    // For an advanced caching plugin to use, static because you would only want one

    1
    if ( defined('WP_CACHE') )
    1
    require (ABSPATH . 'wp-content/advanced-cache.php');

    strangely enough, I don’t have an advanced caching plugin – though, I think I may have some time ago…but removed it at some point. I removed that line and all was fine after that.

    Anyways – another point to provide in the list of information is any errors showing in the error log – – most often that will offer up a clue or two.

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