My WordPress Website is Down.
There are many reasons why your WordPress website might be (or appear to be) down, but here are some of the most common ones:
1 The domain name has expired
2 Your hosting service subscription has lapsed
3 The website hosting server is down
4 You have uploaded and activated a faulty theme or plugin, or one that conflicts with other parts of the website.
Less common causes may be:
5 Your domain name zone file has been misconfigured
6 Your website files or database are damaged or corrupted
7 Your website has been hacked
Let’s examine how you can check as many of the above possibilities as you can:
1 The Domain Name Has Expired
For your WordPress website to function it has to be associated to a domain name. Your domain name registration should be your first check if the site is down because it should be fairly easy to check. Most domain names are sold with a 1-year subscription period but some may be as little as 1 month or as much as 5 years. If you can’t track down your subscription email, you can also try this link: http://whois.domaintools.com/yourdomainname.com Just paste into your browser and replace “yourdomainname.com” with your own domain name without any “www” in front, then hit enter on the keyboard. This will give you a full report of ownership and show when the subscription to the domain name expires – it’s a public record. If yours has expired, the simple fix is to contact your domain name provider to renew it. If you act in a timely manner, it’s most likely your WordPress website will be back online within a fairly short time, but it could possibly take a few days.
2 Your hosting service subscription has lapsed
The hosting service subscription is normally separate to your domain name subscription and may even be with a different provider entirely. The WordPress website will go down immediately when your hosting subscription expires but can usually be re-instated if you act within 30 days. There’s no way to use a web-link to test your hosting service period so if you can’t find your subscription details you will most likely need to call your provider or log into your provider’s account online. Some hosting providers may delete your website if the hosting subscription has been down more than 30 days, so act without delay.
3 The Website Hosting Server is Down
When the WordPress website is down because the hosting server is down, it means the hosting service provider has a problem with their hardware or may be performing routine maintenance on the server at the time you tried to visit the website. Most good hosting service providers have up-time guarantees and these are usually fairly good figures like 99.9% up-time or better. In other words, down-time is not likely to exceed a total of about 9 hours per year. It’s inconvenient at the time, but you’ll probably appreciate the maintenance if it’s likely to reduce the possibility of worse down-time figures later. We don’t know of any WordPress hosting services that legitimately guarantee 100% up-time.
To check if server outage or maintenance is the reason why your website is down, a quick call to your hosting provider will give you the answer, but you might want to wait 30 minutes to see if the issue resolves. Also, you should really check points 1-3 first and not assume it’s the hosting provider’s fault. In our experience, it usually isn’t the most likely cause of the outage.
4 You Have Uploaded and Activated a Faulty Theme or Plugin
If your WordPress website has just gone down after a theme or plugin activation, then you may need to revert the system back to the condition as it was before the activation. The best way to do that is to remove the faulty theme or plugin from your WordPress installation via FTP access. In both cases, deleting the plugin or theme should fix the issue but if your issue occurred after an update you may need to re-install the original version of the theme or plugin that you were using before the problem occurred. If the problem was the theme, then you will also need to have a single theme remaining in the themes folder for WordPress to activate automatically. WordPress cannot function without a theme installed, so by saving one good theme into the themes folder forces it to activate that theme. Try one of WordPress 2015, 2014, 2013 etc as a default fall-back theme. Those themes are usually highly trusted and stable. Then install your previously-used good theme and activate it again. If you want, you can try your old theme as the fall-back theme.
5 Your Domain Name Zone File Has Been Misconfigured
The WordPress website will be down if the Zone File is misconfigured or deleted. Incorrect settings can cause a rolling effect as the new data in the Zone File propagates. In other words: you may have edited the Zone File and made an error but the effect of your edit doesn’t take affect for minutes, or even hours after the edit and may cause the website to go down at different times for different users.
Checking your domain name zone file is somewhat complicated, but there are some short-cuts we can show you. A zone file acts like a library index that helps locate a book within the library. The internet is vast and has over 600 million websites, so there has to be a good system of indexing to direct traffic to the right website or else we’d all be surfing around trying to find what we want and possibly never find it. The typical zone file has an address for website traffic and an address for email traffic. Some zone files have much more than these two types of entry, but they are the most common ones. Because there could be conflicting references in the world for your website address and location, there can be only 1 truly authoritative zone file in the world which may be hosted by your website hosting provider as well. Usually the domain name provider will have a record of which zone file holds the authority to direct traffic.
The settings in the zone file are not specific to WordPress as they apply to all website systems you might be using.
Here are some simple tests you can do to check your zone file addresses, but the resulting address is a little difficult to understand because it will be a string of numbers or letters only, like this: 192.168.000.001
Test this to check the zone file address of your website, replace “yourdomainname.com” with your own domain name:
The first one is the address to the website hosting services. The address returned in the results should match the address provided by your website hosting service provider.
The second one is the address to the email hosting services. It should match to the address provided by your email hosting service provider. Contact your hosting providers to check which addresses are correct for their services. If either of these turn out to be wrong then you will need to update the authoritative zone file hosting provider’s records which requires you to know who that is. Use this link to check:
The host of the authoritative zone file will most likely be preceded by the digits: ns1 and ns2, and maybe also ns3. These are called the Name Server records, (hence the letters ‘ns’).
6 Your Website Files or Database are Damaged or Corrupted
WordPress websites can go down easily when any file is missing or damaged. In some cases, even a single ‘forward-slash’ (/) or ‘period’ (.) in a file in the wrong place may cause the website to stop working. Checking your website files for damage, missing files, file errors or misconfigurations is complicated. This is where you should call a website professional for help. If you’re confident to determine what has gone wrong, then it’s unlikely you are reading this help guide and are probably already hard at work checking the files.
Damage to the WordPress system can be caused by many things like faulty plugins, faulty themes, incompatible functions like WordPress latest versions with old and outdated plugins. Damage may also have been caused by hackers, viruses, Trojans or user error.
Two things you may need to do to repair a file system of database:
a) restore the WordPress database to the last known working date. We use trusted plugins to manage automated database backups.
b) restore the WordPress file system to the last known working date. We use trusted plugins to manage automated file backups.
You will need to have had a backup system in place for either of these two options to be possible.
7 Your Website Has Been Hacked
Checking to see if your WordPress website is down because it has been hacked can also be very complicated and best left to a professional to repair, however there may be some outward signs of the problem:
a) Perform a ‘site’ search in Google to check for anything unusual in search results. To do this search, write “site:yourdomainname.com” in the Google search box and hit enter. Replace “yourdomainname.com” with your actual domain name. For best results, use the correct version of your domain name: with or without ‘www’, whichever your website is normally set to. You should check through all results to see if there are any pages that really don’t belong in your website. If there are some pages that look like advertisements for gambling, pornography or other content not related to yours in any way, then it’s likely that your website has been ‘hijacked’ by a hacker. You can still see these results even if your website is down because Google keeps a record of what it saw the last time it visited and these results may linger long after your web pages are not longer accessible.
b) Check your Google Search Console data for Crawl Errors or any message updates that indicate hacking or large-scale loss of pages from the index. You may not have access to this data if your website was not previously registered in Google Search Console.
c) If you do get your website going again but want to check if there was a hack, try using Fetch And Render in Google Search Console for some of your pages to compare what people can see against what Google can see.
To perform a virus or hacking clean-up you may need to:
a) Remove the virus or Trojan
b) Remove injected content
c) Edit files back to correct configurations
e) Deactivate and isolate suspect themes or plugins
If you have reached the end of this list and still haven’t discovered why your WordPress website is down, please contact us regarding investigative work to resolve the problem. We are experts in WordPress development and diagnostics and would be happy to help. Hourly rates apply and are charged per ¼ hour.