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How to Fix the “There Has Been a Critical Error on Your Website”

Table of Contents

Introduction to Critical Errors on Websites

What is a Critical Error?

A critical error on a website refers to a significant issue that halts the proper functioning of the site. This type of error can arise from a myriad of problems such as coding faults, server issues, or conflicts within the website’s infrastructure. When a critical error occurs, it typically results in the entire site or significant portions of it becoming inaccessible to users. The term “critical” underscores the severity, as such errors often require immediate attention to prevent further disruption or data loss.

Common Causes of Critical Errors

Understanding the root causes of critical errors on websites is crucial for effective troubleshooting. Here are some common sources:

  • Incompatible or Outdated Plugins: Plugins extend the functionality of WordPress sites, but they can also introduce errors, especially if they are not updated regularly or are incompatible with other site elements.
  • Faulty Theme Updates: Themes control the appearance of a site, and errors can occur if a theme update is not compatible with the WordPress version or other installed plugins.
  • PHP Version Incompatibilities: WordPress and its plugins require a compatible PHP version to function correctly. Using an outdated or unsupported PHP version can lead to critical errors.
  • Insufficient Memory Limits: WordPress operations require adequate memory. If the allocated memory is insufficient, it can lead to critical website errors.
  • Database Corruption: The WordPress database stores all site content and settings. Corruption in the database can cause significant issues, including critical errors.
  • File Permission Issues: Incorrect file permissions can prevent WordPress from reading or writing necessary files, leading to errors.
  • .htaccess File Misconfigurations: The .htaccess file manages server configurations. Errors in this file can disrupt site functionality.

By identifying and understanding these common causes, site administrators can more effectively prevent and troubleshoot critical website errors.

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Understanding the “There Has Been a Critical Error on Your Website” Message

When Does This Error Occur?

The “There Has Been a Critical Error on Your Website” message is a specific type of critical error that WordPress sites may encounter. This message often appears during:

  • Plugin Updates or Installations: When updating or installing a new plugin, conflicts with existing plugins or themes can trigger this error.
  • Theme Changes: Switching to a new theme or updating an existing one can cause compatibility issues leading to critical errors.
  • WordPress Core Updates: Updating the WordPress core can sometimes introduce errors if the new version is incompatible with existing site elements.
  • Server Issues: Problems on the server-side, such as downtime or misconfigurations, can also trigger this error message.

This error typically results in both the front-end and back-end of the site becoming inaccessible, creating an urgent need for resolution.

How Does It Affect Your Website?

The impact of the “There Has Been a Critical Error on Your Website” message is substantial:

  • Inaccessibility: Users visiting your site may encounter a blank screen or an error message, preventing them from accessing your content or services.
  • Administrative Lockout: Administrators may be unable to log into the WordPress dashboard, hindering their ability to manage or fix the site.
  • Traffic Loss: Prolonged periods of downtime can lead to a loss of site traffic, negatively affecting your SEO rankings and user trust.
  • Revenue Impact: For e-commerce sites, critical errors can result in lost sales and revenue as users are unable to complete transactions.

Addressing this error promptly is essential to restore normal site functionality and minimize negative impacts.

Initial Steps to Take When You Encounter the Critical Error on Website

Refreshing the Page

The simplest initial step when encountering the “There Has Been a Critical Error on Your Website” message is to refresh the page. Sometimes, the error might be temporary and caused by a momentary glitch. However, if the error persists after refreshing, it indicates a more significant issue that requires further investigation.

Checking Server Status

Your website might be experiencing critical errors due to server-related issues. To rule out server problems:

  • Check Hosting Provider’s Status Page: Many hosting providers have status pages where they report ongoing issues or maintenance activities. Ensure there are no reported outages or maintenance operations affecting your server.
  • Contact Hosting Support: If the status page doesn’t provide insights, reach out to your hosting provider’s support team. They can confirm whether the server is experiencing issues that could be causing the error.

Ensuring that the server is operational and stable is a crucial step in diagnosing the root cause of the critical website error.

Investigating Plugin and Theme Issues

Identifying Problematic Plugins

Plugins are a common source of critical website errors. To identify problematic plugins:

  • Access Your Site via FTP or File Manager: If you cannot access the WordPress dashboard, use FTP or the File Manager in your hosting control panel.
  • Rename the Plugins Folder: Navigate to the wp-content directory and rename the plugins folder to something like plugins_old. This deactivates all plugins.
  • Check Your Site: If the error resolves, one of the plugins was causing the issue. Reactivate each plugin one by one by renaming the folder back and checking the site after each activation to identify the culprit.

Updating Themes and Plugins

Outdated themes and plugins can introduce compatibility issues, leading to critical errors. To ensure everything is up to date:

  • Access the WordPress Dashboard: If you can access the dashboard, navigate to Updates under the Dashboard menu.
  • Update All Themes and Plugins: Install available updates for all themes and plugins. Keeping these elements updated helps prevent conflicts and errors.
  • Manual Updates: If you cannot access the dashboard, download the latest versions of the themes and plugins from their respective sources and upload them via FTP.

Regularly updating your themes and plugins is a best practice for maintaining site stability and security. More on How to Update a WordPress Theme post includes detailed steps on ensuring your theme is up-to-date and optimized for performance.

Checking for PHP and Memory Limit Issues

Understanding PHP Errors

PHP errors can be a significant cause of critical website errors. To identify PHP errors:

  • Enable Error Logging: Add the following code to your wp-config.php file to enable error logging:

    define('WP_DEBUG', true);
    define('WP_DEBUG_LOG', true);
    define('WP_DEBUG_DISPLAY', false);

    This creates a debug.log file in the wp-content directory where errors are logged.
  • Check the Log File: Review the debug.log file for PHP errors that might be causing the critical error.

Adjusting Memory Limits

Insufficient memory allocation can lead to critical errors. To increase the PHP memory limit:

  • Edit the wp-config.php File: Add or modify the following line in your wp-config.php file to increase memory limit:
    define('WP_MEMORY_LIMIT', '256M');
  • Check the Current Memory Limit: You can check the current memory limit by creating a PHP info file. Create a file named info.php with the following content and upload it to your server:
    <?php phpinfo(); ?>
    Access this file via your browser to see the current memory limit and other PHP settings.

Increasing the memory limit helps ensure that your site has sufficient resources to handle its operations, reducing the likelihood of critical errors.

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For detailed information, you can read the topic on How to Configure Your WordPress Site with the wp-config.php File.

Analyzing Database Problems

Database Corruption

Database corruption can cause severe issues, including critical errors. To diagnose and repair database corruption:

  • Enable Database Repair Mode: Add the following line to your wp-config.php file to enable the built-in WordPress database repair tool:
    define('WP_ALLOW_REPAIR', true);
  • Run the Repair Script: Visit to access the repair tool. Choose the “Repair Database” or “Repair and Optimize Database” options.

After repairing the database, remove the repair line from your wp-config.php file for security reasons.

Repairing and Optimizing Databases

Regular database maintenance can prevent critical errors caused by database issues. To optimize your database:

  • Use Plugins: Plugins like WP-Optimize or Advanced Database Cleaner can automate database optimization, removing unnecessary data and optimizing tables.
  • Manual Optimization: If you prefer manual optimization, access phpMyAdmin through your hosting control panel. Select your WordPress database and use the “Check Table” and “Optimize Table” options.

Regularly optimizing your database helps maintain its health and prevents issues that can lead to critical errors.

Handling File Permission Issues

What Are File Permissions?

File permissions control who can read, write, or execute files on your server. Incorrect permissions can prevent WordPress from accessing necessary files, causing critical errors.

Adjusting File Permissions

To ensure correct file permissions:

  • Access Your Site via FTP or File Manager: Use FTP or the File Manager in your hosting control panel.
  • Set Correct Permissions: Typically, directories should have permissions set to 755, and files should be set to 644. To change permissions, right-click on a file or directory and select “Permissions” or “Attributes.”

Proper file permissions are crucial for WordPress to function correctly and securely.

Resolving Critical Error on Your Website Issues with .htaccess File

Understanding .htaccess

The .htaccess file is a configuration file used by Apache servers to control various server settings, such as URL redirection and access controls. Errors in this file can disrupt your site’s functionality and cause critical website errors.

Editing .htaccess Safely

To safely edit the .htaccess file:

  • Access the .htaccess File via FTP or File Manager: Locate the .htaccess file in your site’s root directory.
  • Create a Backup: Before making any changes, create a backup of the .htaccess file by downloading a copy or renaming it.
  • Identify and Fix Errors: Review the .htaccess file for any obvious errors or incorrect configurations. You can use online .htaccess validators to check for syntax errors.
  • Generate a New .htaccess File: If you suspect the .htaccess file is corrupted, rename it to .htaccess_backup and generate a new one. Go to your WordPress dashboard, navigate to Settings > Permalinks, and save changes without making any adjustments. This action will generate a new default .htaccess file.

Properly managing the .htaccess file ensures that your server configurations do not cause critical website errors. You can find more information in the WordPress .htaccess File: A Comprehensive Guide post.

Dealing with Incompatible PHP Versions

Checking PHP Compatibility

Ensuring your WordPress site runs on a compatible PHP version is vital. Incompatible PHP versions can lead to critical errors. Here’s how to check compatibility:

  • WordPress Recommendations: Visit the official WordPress website to check the recommended PHP version. As of my knowledge cutoff date, WordPress recommends using PHP version 7.4 or higher.
  • Hosting Control Panel: Access your hosting control panel and find the section that displays your current PHP version. This section is often found under “Software” or “Server Configuration.”

Upgrading or Downgrading PHP

If you need to upgrade or downgrade your PHP version:

  • Backup Your Site: Before making any changes, ensure you have a complete backup of your site, including the database and files.
  • Change PHP Version via Hosting Control Panel: Most hosting providers allow you to change the PHP version through their control panel. Look for options like “PHP Version Manager” or “Select PHP Version.”
  • Testing Compatibility: After changing the PHP version, test your site thoroughly to ensure everything is functioning correctly. Check all pages, posts, and interactive features.

Ensuring PHP compatibility is crucial to prevent and resolve critical website errors.

Reviewing Recent Changes and Updates

Logging Recent Changes

Keeping a detailed log of recent changes to your website can help identify the cause of critical errors. This log should include:

  • Plugin Installations and Updates: Note down any new plugins installed or existing plugins updated.
  • Theme Changes: Record any changes to the theme, including updates and customizations.
  • WordPress Core Updates: Log any updates to the WordPress core.
  • Custom Code Modifications: Keep track of any custom code added to your site, whether in theme files, plugins, or the functions.php file.

Reverting Problematic Updates

If a critical error occurs after a recent change, reverting the update can help resolve the issue:

  • Restore from Backup: If you have a recent backup, restore your site to a state before the changes were made.
  • Manually Revert Changes: If no backup is available, manually revert the changes. For plugins and themes, you can reinstall previous versions that were stable.

Maintaining a change log and knowing how to revert updates can quickly resolve critical website errors.

Contacting Hosting Support for Assistance

When to Contact Support

If you’ve tried troubleshooting steps and the critical error persists, it’s time to contact your hosting support. Hosting providers have access to server logs and configurations that can help diagnose deeper issues.

Providing Useful Information

When contacting support, provide detailed information to help them assist you more efficiently:

  • Error Messages: Include any specific error messages you’ve encountered.
  • Steps Taken: List the troubleshooting steps you’ve already attempted.
  • Recent Changes: Mention any recent changes or updates made to the site.
  • Log Files: Provide relevant log files, such as PHP error logs or server logs.

Detailed information can help hosting support diagnose and fix the critical website error more quickly.

Ensuring Website Security After Fixing the Critical Error on Your Website

Performing Security Checks

After resolving a critical website error, it’s essential to perform security checks to ensure your site remains secure:

  • Security Plugins: Use security plugins like Wordfence or Sucuri to scan for vulnerabilities and malware.
  • Check User Accounts: Ensure there are no unauthorized user accounts with administrative privileges.
  • Audit Site Files: Check for any suspicious files or changes in your WordPress installation.

Implementing Preventative Measures

To prevent future critical errors, implement the following measures:

  • Regular Backups: Set up a regular backup schedule using plugins like UpdraftPlus or BackupBuddy.
  • Update Regularly: Keep WordPress core, themes, and plugins updated to their latest versions.
  • Strong Passwords: Use strong, unique passwords for all user accounts.
  • Security Best Practices: Follow WordPress security best practices, such as using SSL certificates and limiting login attempts.

Implementing these measures helps maintain the security and stability of your website, reducing the risk of future critical errors.

Testing Your Website After Fixes

Testing Functionality

After fixing a critical website error, thoroughly test your site’s functionality:

  • Check All Pages: Visit all pages on your site to ensure they load correctly and display content as expected.
  • Test Forms and Interactive Elements: Ensure forms, buttons, and interactive features work properly.
  • Cross-Browser Testing: Test your site on different browsers and devices to ensure compatibility and functionality.

Monitoring for Recurrence

Monitor your site to detect any recurrence of the critical error:

  • Uptime Monitoring Tools: Use tools like UptimeRobot or Pingdom to monitor your site’s uptime and receive alerts if it goes down.
  • Regular Site Checks: Regularly visit and interact with your site to catch any issues early.
  • Error Logs: Continuously monitor error logs for signs of recurring problems.

Proactive testing and monitoring help ensure your site remains functional and accessible to users.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Overlooking Plugin Updates

One common mistake that can lead to critical website errors is overlooking plugin updates:

  • Automatic Updates: Enable automatic updates for plugins when possible to ensure they are always up to date.
  • Regular Update Checks: Manually check for plugin updates regularly if automatic updates are not an option.
  • Compatibility Checks: Before updating, check the compatibility of plugins with your current WordPress version and other plugins.

Ignoring Error Logs

Ignoring error logs can lead to unresolved issues that escalate into critical errors:

  • Regular Log Reviews: Regularly review error logs in your hosting control panel or use logging plugins to keep track of errors.
  • Investigate Errors: Investigate and address any errors logged to prevent them from causing more significant issues.
  • Seek Help When Needed: If you encounter errors you cannot resolve, seek help from hosting support or a professional developer.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can prevent critical website errors and maintain a stable, secure site.


Critical website errors, such as the “There Has Been a Critical Error on Your Website” message, can be daunting and disruptive. However, by understanding the common causes and taking a systematic approach to troubleshooting, you can effectively resolve these issues and restore your site’s functionality.

Regular maintenance, including updating themes and plugins, optimizing your database, and ensuring correct file permissions, is crucial for preventing critical errors. Additionally, having a robust backup strategy ensures you can quickly recover your site in case of severe issues.

By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can confidently tackle critical website errors and maintain a stable, reliable website for your users.


1. What is the first thing I should do when I see the “There Has Been a Critical Error on Your Website” message?

Refresh the page to see if the error is a temporary glitch. If the error persists, follow the troubleshooting steps outlined in this guide.

2. How can I identify which plugin is causing the critical error?

Deactivate all plugins and then reactivate them one by one. This process will help you identify the problematic plugin.

3. What should I do if increasing the PHP memory limit does not resolve the error?

If increasing the PHP memory limit does not help, check for other issues such as database corruption, file permission problems, or .htaccess misconfigurations.

4. Can outdated themes cause critical errors on my website?

Yes, outdated themes can cause compatibility issues and critical errors. Always keep your themes updated.

5. How do I check for PHP errors on my website?

Check the error logs in your hosting control panel to identify any PHP-related errors.

6. What are file permissions, and why are they important?

File permissions determine who can read, write, or execute files on your server. Incorrect permissions can lead to critical errors.

7. How can I safely edit the .htaccess file?

Rename your existing .htaccess file to deactivate it. If this resolves the error, generate a new .htaccess file through the WordPress dashboard.

8. What information should I provide when contacting hosting support?

Provide details such as error messages, recent changes, and steps you’ve already taken to resolve the issue. This information will help support diagnose and fix the problem more efficiently.

9. How can I ensure my website is secure after fixing a critical error?

Perform security checks using plugins like Wordfence or Sucuri and implement preventative measures such as regular backups and strong passwords.

10. Why is it important to monitor my website after fixing a critical error?

Monitoring your website helps detect any recurrence of the error and ensures that your site remains functional and accessible to users. Use uptime monitoring tools for this purpose.

Picture of Katerina Valeria
Katerina Valeria
Hi there! My name is Catherine and I am a professional content creator with a focus on WordPress. I write blog articles for Gloria Themes, sharing my knowledge and expertise on all things related to this popular website platform.

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