In a lot of ways, your website is like your child. You care for you website, you give it your time and attention, and you take pride in watching it grow (in traffic and sales).
So when your website breaks and you don’t know why, it can be quite stressful and scary.
Especially if your website disappears altogether 😱.
And if you happen to be deep into launch mode for your latest sales offering (course or service) , then your stress levels just go through the roof!
You really just want someone to make it all better for you, STAT! (and probably a glass of red wine to chill with while they do it).
Basic First Aid when your website breaks
Time to take a deep breath (and a few drops of Rescue Remedy in your glass of water) and check some basic issues to see if you can fix the problem yourself…
Are all your accounts active?
- Check your domain name registration. If it has expired you will generally get a message saying that the domain could not be found (or in tech speak, that it could not be “resolved”). Don’t laugh – we have seen this happen more often than you would expect. The solution is to log in to where your domain is registered and renew it (and quickly, before someone else takes it).
- Check your hosting account. If you’re seeing a page with your host’s branding instead of your site then this is the likely cause. You can fix this one by logging in to your hosting account and renewing your services.
- What about the licences on your premium themes and or plugins? Most premium licences will only stop updates happening when they expire, but some of the more aggressive licences will also cause the plugin to stop working entirely.
Is your host experiencing problems?
Even the best hosts go offline sometimes. Jump online and check the status of their servers – if they are down then you will just need to wait it out. If this happens regularly and for long periods of time, then you might want to consider moving to a better host . Remember though, no host can promise 100% uptime, so do some investigating as to the reasons for the outage before you go moving hosts.
If you find you do need to move to a new hosting company, our step by step guide to migrating your website to a new host will help you.
Were you in the middle of upgrading?
Although WordPress, theme and plugin updates will work perfectly most of the time, every now and then they can get “stuck” or fail.
If your site is showing a maintenance message, then log in to your host, fire up the File Manager and delete the “.maintenance” file in the root directory of your site. This should bring your site back to life.
If, on the other hand, you are getting a white screen with long warning messages on it, then it is likely one of the files became corrupted during the upgrade. This is another job for the File Manager within your hosting account. In this case, you need to replace the the core WordPress files, or the plugin files, depending on what you were updating at the time (you can use a fresh download from wordpress.org to do this).
Were you adding a plugin or theme?
You may see the white screen with warning messages, or you may get nothing at all. Either way, if the last thing you did was activate a new plugin or theme then the odds are it is incompatible with the rest of your setup. Again, fire up the File Manager in your hosting account and delete the folder for the plugin or theme you just activated. This will clear the error and get your site running again.
You could try loading the theme or plugin again in case it was just a random file corruption, but be prepared to get the same result.
Were you adding code to your functions file?
Google is full of code snippets to add functionality to your site. Most work, but some have errors. Or you may have copied it incorrectly, or pasted it in to the wrong spot. Either way, the result is the “white screen of death” – a stark white screen with absolutely nothing on it.
The File Manager is your friend here too. If you were clever enough to take a copy of the “functions.php” file before you started playing with it, then simply restore this copy and all is good. Otherwise you will need to open up the file, find the code you added and remove it.
None of the above?
If you ran a backup before making changes, you can restore that backup. This will at least take your site back to where it was before the problem happened.
If none of this solves your problem then it is time to call in the experts.
Who You Gonna Call?
No, not Ghost Busters!
Well, your hosting company seems like a logical first choice.
And if you are with a quality host (like SiteGround) that understands WordPress and prides itself on their customer service then you will probably be OK.
Unfortunately, most hosts are less than helpful as soon as they realise your site uses WordPress (even blaming WordPress for issues that are actually hosting issues). If they are not helpful, or if you have to wait forever to even get to talk to someone, then consider moving to SiteGround once this issue is resolved to save yourself further problems in the future.
If you know your problem is related to a premium theme or plugin, then you will need to visit their support forum or submit a support ticket.
Failing all of that, it’s time to call a WordPress expert.
And this is where you need to be careful. As much as a VA might be a good choice for loading blog posts, they are probably not the right choice to troubleshoot more complicated problems.
You want someone who has in-depth knowledge, who has the ability to analyse the situation and logically track down the root cause. Most of all, you want someone who is cool under pressure.
You want us and our Tech Rescue!
The ER for websites
If you’ve ever watched Grey’s Anatomy (or ER if you’re a little older), you’ll know that when someone comes into the ER, and before the professionals do anything to help you, they ask a whole bunch of questions. Even though you just want them to “fix it” (and right now), they really can’t do anything until they have some idea of what is actually wrong.
Often, just observing the symptoms is not enough. Different underlying issues can manifest in the same visible symptoms. What’s worse is that treating the wrong issue can sometimes result in creating more problems!
The same is true when we set out to fix your site.
We need all the relevant information in order to make the correct diagnosis. It saves us a lot of time if you tell us everything you know upfront. And that means your site is back online quicker.
This is not a time to let potential embarrassment get in the way (we don’t judge anyway). Besides, we will eventually work out what happened anyway – trying to hide it will only delay the repair of your site (and cost you more).
Another Option – Website Care
If you just need a one off fix, then the Tech Rescue is perfect.
It covers most small issues (anything that can be repaired within 30 minutes).
If it’s something more extensive, we’ll do what we can within that 30 min and provide you with a quote for what it will cost to fix the issue completely.
But what about ongoing protection?
That’s where our Website Care Packages come in. They are designed to proactively protect your site, preventing many of the issues that could bring your site down.
Of course, accidents could still happen when you are working on your site. So the Protect plan provides you with one Tech Rescue a month, and the Membership + & E-commerce plans have unlimited 30 min jobs/repairs included.
Think of it as health insurance for your site.
So if your website is important to you (and your business), then it’s time to protect it.
Sign up for your Care Package today