My WordPress broke when I update it – now what?

Uh oh, do you have PHP error or have you encountered a white screen situation?

There are two scenarios which are going to cause your website to break. The first scenario is a WordPress core update, the second a Plugin update which is conflicting with your website’s theme.

Before we talk more about fixing a broken website you should first understand how to backup your website. If you haven’t already, take a read on my Fool proof guide to backing up your WordPress website.

Now onto fixing the issue currently at hand.

To solve your issues quickly, my first call of action is to determine – what broke the website?

Often we update all our plugins at once as a quick and easy way to manage updates – big mistake. If you have done this, perhaps take a quick read over the my article on updating a WordPress website – the smart way.

If you know which plugin you updated and is the culprit, login into your cPanel and then onto the File Manager.
You will need to follow a path through to /wp-contents/plugins. The plugin should be identifiable in the plugins folder. Change the name of the plugin by simply adding a number at the end of its folder name.

Head back to your website and refresh, are you back online?

If yes, you will notice some ‘broken’ elements on your website which that plugin was associated to, this can be small or catastrophic depending on the plugin – but hey, you can now access your Dashboard and website right?
If you have backed up your website before your update (which you should have!) then you can follow the same path into the wp-content folder and copy the previous version of that plugin back into your File Manager folder. Reactive the plugin and you have just saved yourself a world of pain.

If no, the next step you should take is to revert your theme back to a default WordPress theme such as Twenty Seventeen. Do this by following the path through to /wp-contents/themes. Add a number or change a letter within your theme name via the File Manger and it will deactivate your theme.

By following the above steps you should be able to recover your website from death by Plugin updates.
If your website still isn’t back online, you could be dealing with a more serious issue such as a hacked website, in that case get in contact with me and I can assess the damage on your website and get you back online quickly.

WordPress core on the other hand can be a little more tricky and involves reverting back the previous installation. I would recommend reaching out and getting in touch should you need to revert WordPress back as if you attempt this without experience you may very well wipe out your website for good.


WordPress developer in Melbourne - Jaffe Websites