Links to Website Not Working

Website Links Show a Blank Page

wordpress broken iconThe feeling of horror after installing a new WordPress plugin or updating an existing plugin when suddenly all pages on the website or blog disappear, and a blank page is seen in the browser. The first instinct is to panic, especially when the site is a business site. What happened, what went wrong? I know it’s an awful feeling. Web developers like myself are used to this happening. We sometimes break our sites when fiddling with code and things. A cry for help with this problem was posted twelve hours ago on a plugin forum after a Jetpack plugin update resulted in a broken site.

The first thing to do is delete the last plugin installed or updated. To do this you have to use FTP or server file manager. Deleting the plugin is the standard way to fix a WordPress (and other CMS) site broken by an update or new addition. But it doesn’t always work…

Deleting the Plugin Didn’t Help – What Next?

If simply deleting the plugin didn’t restore the site, something else went wrong. The most likely cause for a blank page is an error written to the .htaccess file preventing URL rewriting, the second possible, but less likely, cause is a corrupted database (especially if you can still access WordPress admin).

Don’t re-install WordPress! Leave re-installing WordPress as a last resort if the steps below fail to bring the site back up. I’ve seen several problems caused when some file doesn’t get uploaded during this process which just adds another problem to sort out. Rather tackle the basics before going to this stage.

Broken .htaccess

The plugin may (unlikely) have written code to the .htaccess file. Possibly a server error during the process resulted in an incomplete line of code being written; Result – the site permalinks structure is broken. This problem is actually very easy to fix. WordPress default doesn’t come with a .htaccess file. This is only created when altering the permalink structure to use pretty permalinks.

So the first thing to do is return the site to the default permalink settings. This can be done in Settings Permalinks if you still have access to WP Admin. If not simply delete or rename the .htaccess file using FTP which will restore WordPress to it’s default permalink settings. Then you can go back to settings and recreate the permalink structure. Or you can use the code snippet below to overwrite the URL mod-rewrite rules in the .htaccess file. NOTE: If you have other settings (e.g. IP deny and User Agent deny rules) in the .htaccess file back it up or make a copy first!

# BEGIN WordPress

 <IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /index.php [L]

 # END WordPress

The Other Option – Corrupted Database

If the problem isn’t with the .htacess file, then the database is likely to be damaged. If the database has become corrupted the problem gets bigger… Hope there is a recent working backup available (and all WordPress self hosted bloggers backup the database regularly, don’t we?). Restoring the database should take care of the problem.The worst thing that restoring a databse will result in is a loss of any content added to the site since the last backup.

But what to do if there is no database backup. Now the owner of a broken site has a problem. However don’t lose hope yet. Contact your website hosting company and ask them to restore the database from their backups… All reputable hosting services provide backups, usually done daily.

If the hosting service doesn’t have a backup, then the site owner has a really big problem, and it will be expensive to fix. Unless the blogger/site owner is willing to start from scratch with a new blank site, a specialist will be needed to edit the database manually. These specialists charge for their time – a lot…

me on google plus+Mike Otgaar


About Mike

Web Developer and Techno-geek Saltwater fishing nut Blogger

Posted on June 21, 2012, in Blogs, WordPress and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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