Your WordPress site just crashed. Cue the frantic calls, worrying about missing out on business, and questions about what to do next. Rest assured, you’ve come to the right place. Our team has decades of experience helping our existing and future (?) clients troubleshoot their WordPress hosting problems.
WordPress is a double-edged sword. It’s the most ubiquitous open source website creation tool, which means there are tons of ready-made themes and plugins to make building websites easy for the computer savvy and the technologically challenged, alike. This also means that because everyone wants in on the WordPress action, the platform is most susceptible to buggy code, misconfigured hosting, and hackers.
Here are some common reasons why your WordPress is down right now.
1. It’s Not Actually Down
Sometimes your site isn’t really down, it just looks that way. Common mistake – happens to the best of us!
In those instances, hold the Shift key while refreshing your browser. Clear your cache. Use these resources to see if your site is down for everyone, or just for you. And if all else fails, try turning your computer off and on again. Hey, it’s worth a try.
If your site now works, then crisis averted. If that’s not the case, it’s on to the more serious issues.
2. Russian Hackers
If Russians can hack the DNC, they’ll have no issues hacking your WordPress website. Your hackers don’t have to be Russian, but you’ve got to admit that it makes your website crash feel more like a James Bond movie, and we like that.
Hackers can take the form of humans or bots. They can attack for several reasons: to spam you, to steal your data, to advertise, and sometimes for no reason at all. Most often hackers will use a Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack to drive high levels of traffic to your server in order to overload its capacity until it crashes. It’s like when Dr. Phillips Center’s website crashed when it released Hamilton tickets because of the amount of traffic it received – except instead of hackers it was the entire city of Orlando. The biggest DDOS attacks in recent history happened to Go Daddy and Dyn, so it’s most likely if your site is under this type of attack it’s nothing personal.
You’ll know it’s a DDoS hack if your site won’t load, but other web pages load quickly. Most of these types of attacks last under three hours, but some can last more than five days! Some advice – don’t wait five days for your website to go back to normal. Here’s a play-by-play to fix it in five minutes.
3. You Didn’t Keep Your Plugins Up-To-Date.
There are millions of WordPress plugins out there, for everything from contact forms to Instagram displays. Be smart about the plugins you’re using. Some plugins that were good two years ago might no longer be current and can cause your site to go down.
If you just installed a new plugin and your site is now down, uninstall it. Take inventory of your plugins and see which licenses are more than a year old. Look for recent updates or newer alternatives that accomplish the same thing. Because most hacking is done by using exploits in outdated code, sites using outdated software are most susceptible to hacking.
4. You Don’t Control Your Domain.
WordPress sites can go down if you’re not keeping track of your registrar credentials. Sometimes it can make sense to have a web developer handle the technical details, including purchasing your domain for you. But if you part ways, you need to make sure that the domain registration is in your name, linked to the registrar account that you control and set on auto-renewal.
5. You Didn’t Use An Agency.
WordPress makes it easy for almost anyone to build a website which is awesome – until there’s a problem that you can’t solve. Agencies are subject-matter experts on web design and development. A talented agency will build your WordPress site in such a way that you will not have to worry about your site going down for silly reasons – and they’ll be able to resolve more complex technical problems quickly. Because we have seen it all. Trust us. If you need an expert opinion on setting up your WordPress site, we’ve got ‘em.
6. You’re Not Using A Managed WordPress Hosting Service.
If a full-fledged agency isn’t a good fit for your WordPress Project, make sure you’re at least using a managed WordPress Hosting Service. These services provide a lot of security, monitor the health of your site, and will contact you before your site goes down.
Our favorite is WP Engine. We use these guys for staging, migration, user portals, and page performance. Plus, they have the best support staff we’ve ever worked with – something that’s hard to come by nowadays. They won’t however, keep your plugins up to date, so make sure you’re working with someone that can stay on top of this if you don’t have the bandwidth to do it yourself.
Now that your site is up and running, take some time to visit other amazing web pages, like this one.