Every once in awhile I run into an issue with one of my client’s sites or even one of my own web projects that causes a mass crisis. White Screen of Death, which I prefer to call “White powder donuts” because it sounds much nicer, is the one that always freaks people out. I usually have to spend about 30 minutes just calming the person down so they can tell me what they did last and everything will be alright. Halfway through me calming them down I usually have their website back up and running like nothing happen.
He who smiles in a crisis has found someone to blame.
1, 2, 3, Breathe
I briefly talked about how to Troubleshoot common errors made in WordPress in the Beginners workshop at WordCamp Miami in Fort Lauderdale. One of the things I pointed out was to stay calm and relaxed during a problem with your website. I know, I know freaking out when you see weird and strange things happening to your website is normal behavior but you have to calm down and just breath.
Now that you have calmed down, there are a few items that you have to go over.
Try to remember your last few steps before your website broke. I usually keep a log with a paper and pen to jot down what I have done. This helps me keep track of changes if things tend to break. If you can go back to what you did wrong, you could probably fix it without having to restore your files and database with a backup. For example, if you installed a plugin that took down your site, you can get into your plugins folder via FTP and change the name of the plugin folder which will basically turn off the plugin.Do you have a backup and how recent is it? If you have a backup of your site then you can restore your site back to the date when the backup took place. Now, if you didn’t backup your site before updating your site, plugins or adding some code snippet that you found somewhere on the net you might be going further back then you like to. I, like most people, prefer to automate my backup for every month for my websites. I have a few websites that are backup every week or even daily based on the amount of content they generate in a certain time period. I will always recommend that you backup be done before making any updates and code changes. A more recent backup of your website can save you a headache trying to put it back together.
The facts are that things break but if you don’t freak out you can easily get it back up. Glitches can happen for many reasons and some of them will require you to do a full install of WordPress. Don’t dwell too much on why the glitch happens just focus on getting your website up and working on preventing it from happening again.