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Fixing The WordPress 5.2 Error: This Site Is Experiencing Technical Difficulties

Noooooooo!

Some of you may have tried to log into your WordPress site recently to see this dreaded message:

this site is experiencing technical difficulties

With the recent update to WordPress 5.2, many sites have been having this problem, which is ironic because WordPress 5.2 was to address many technical and troubleshooting issues.  But in doing so, it seems to have opened up a can of worms with this now common issue.  As a web designer in NJ who deals with multiple sites at once, I also ran into it.

There are a few common reasons why this could be happening:

  • Incompatibility of plugins with the new WordPress release.
  • Incompatibility of Themes with the new release.
  • PHP version Error.

Let’s have a look at the two most simple ones to solve, Incompatible Plugins & Themes.  After the 5.2 update, many plugins have been causing issues and errors.  Most of the plugins reported so far appear to be 3rd party backup plugins, so if you have one installed, you should check up on your site ASAP.  (Updraft appears to still be working fine)  You may be wondering how you can remove a plugin or theme if you can’t even log into your site.  Well, there are several ways of going about this.

WordPress Recovery Mode

One of the simplest and newest solutions is WordPress’ new “recovery mode” login.  In which it will let you log in with the offending plugin or theme already disabled and identified.  You may have received an email with the following message: “Your Site is Experiencing a Technical Issue”.

  1. Follow the instructions in the email to login under recovery mode
  2. Delete the offending plugin or Theme.
  3. Exit safe mode.

After that you should be good to go.

If you didn’t get the email with the login into recovery mode, there are still other ways.

Delete The Plugin Via FTP

Log into your site files via your FTP program of choice, one of the most popular is Filezilla.  Then navigate to the folder wp-content/plugins.  Then find the folder of the offending plugin and simply delete it.  Of course, this solution is only viable if you already know what plugin is causing the problem.  Like I said earlier, if you have a 3rd party backup plugin installed like “BackupWordpress”, you already know it’s gotta go.

Disable Plugins Or Themes Through Your Hosting Provider

Most hosting companies worth their salt these days have ways in which you can control your WordPress site without even having to log into it.  Many modern hosting platforms, including Bluehost, Hostmonster, Hostgator, etc. have WordPress Tools installed.  Hosting companies like WPEngine and Siteground even have their own dedicated software to do this.  Either way, most hosting companies have software and tools to manage your sites.   Log into your hosting company and navigate to your WordPress tools dashboard that your hosting has and one by one, toggle each plugin or theme off and then try to log into your site.  When you are able to finally log in again, you will know which plugin or theme is the culprit.  Log into your site and delete as normal.

PHP Version Issues

The latest versions of WordPress after 5.0 require a PHP version that is at least 7.0 and later.  PHP is the programming language that powers WordPress.  Having an older version installed on your hosting can cause some issues.  Once again, log into your hosting company’s dashboard and try to find a “PHP Version” option.  Some hosting companies have different methods or terminology on how to navigate to this, so you might have to hunt for a bit.  Once you find it, change your PHP version to at least 7.1 or 7.2 for good measure.

Recovering From A Backup or Reverting To An Older Version Of WordPress

If all else fails, you can always attempt to restore your site from a previous backup where you know it was still working, (if you have one and can access it).  You should be able to possible do this through your hosting company if they have that feature.  The other option is to revert back to an older version of WordPress and then make your changes.

Reverting To An Older Version Of WordPress

You can download every past version of WordPress here: https://wordpress.org/download/releases/

  1. Download the version that you know was last working with your site and unzip it.
  2. Log into your site files with an FTP program.
  3. Delete both the wp-admin & the wp-includes folders
  4. Overwrite them with the “wp-admin” & “wp-includes” folders from the unzipped file from WordPress.org.  DO NOT UPLOAD THE “wp-content” FOLDER AS THIS WILL RUIN YOUR WORDPRESS INSTALLATION.
  5. Attempt to log back into your site and fix all your issues, then attempt to update as normal.

Hopefully after attempting one of these solutions, your site is back to normal and working again.  Make sure you set up regular backups of your site.  Both through the WordPress dashboard and through your hosting provider.  One of the best backup plugins that has a good track record of playing nice with WordPress updates is “Updraft Plus“.  It has been quite a lifesaver in a pinch.  I would also suggest you go into your hosting provider’s login and see what site backup solutions they have on there as well.  When the mess hits the fan, it’s definitely a lifesaver to have these backups on hand.

 

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