Have you tried to access the front end of your site, but it doesn’t work, yet the WordPress Admin Section still does? That’s concerning since your visitors are barred from accessing the home page too. If prolonged, that will hurt your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and page rankings, meaning search engines won’t recommend your content. Additionally, you can damage your reputation since outside loyal visitors, people will likely move on to other websites if yours is offline. However, the fact that the administrator dashboard works is a massive advantage for troubleshooting. Now, let’s show you how to fix the WordPress admin works, but the site doesn’t problem.
1. Check if WordPress emailed you and enter Recovery Mode
Whenever a fatal error happens, such as the WordPress white screen of death, the CMS (Content Management System) tends to email the owner (head administrator) with more information. We explained the entire thing in detail. In short, you will have to click the recovery link, letting you (and only you, meaning the site still won’t work for others) enter Recovery Mode. You will then get information about the culprit, usually a theme or a plugin, and can click on Go to Themes/Plugins → Deactivate → Exit Recovery Mode.
2. Fix the WordPress installation path if Admin works but site doesn’t
Unfortunately, the source of the concern isn’t always straightforward, and Recovery Mode can’t pinpoint it. Thus, we’ll move on to another frequent issue when one functions, but the other doesn’t—an incorrect file path. Maybe you installed a plugin (we’ll tackle that shortly), edited your site files and made a typo, or entered a wrong file path. That is common when WordPress is not installed in the root, but in a separate folder, such as
.../blog, or something similar.
The simplest way to check the configuration is to go to WordPress General Settings and check whether the “WordPress Address” and “Site Address” are correct. While there, double-check that the “Administration Email Address” is valid. The CMS may have mailed you, but to an address you don’t check or can’t access. Changing it may make the website resend the message, helping you fix the problem. Another method involves accessing your site via FTP and heading to the wp-config.php file and examining whether these two lines are correct:
define('WP_HOME', 'https://your-website.com' ); define('WP_SITEURL', 'https://your-website.com' );
If they don’t exist, add them anywhere before the /* That’s all, stop editing! Happy blogging. */ line.
Changing the meta value of siteurl and home
If those two are in order, yet the site still fails to work while Admin works normally, the fix may be hiding in your database. Since this is optional, we suggest the easiest way possible. Here’s how that would work:
- Access the cPanel on the web hosting provider’s website.
- Go to the phpMyAdmin section.
- Go to Database.
- You will now see the tables that comprise the database for your website. Find the one named
wp_options. It may be named differently, depending on your site prefix, such as
- Once it opens, search for “meta_key siteurl” and ”meta_key home” or only “siteurl” and “home”. You’ll see the two URLs.
- Double-check that the
option_valueURLs are identical if that’s your WordPress configuration. Otherwise, ensure they’re correct.
3. Refresh your website permalink structure
Without getting into the nitty-gritty, the error may be temporary and caused by your permalink structure. Don’t fret—you don’t need to change from “your-website.com/post-name/” to “your-website.com/post-id=105”. You merely have to:
- Open the Admin Section.
- Click on Settings in the left sidebar.
- Once the option expands, click on Permalinks.
- Note the structure currently in use. Click any other option, then Save Changes.
- After the page reloads, select the first (original) structure before clicking the Save Changes button again.
4. Disable a recently installed WordPress plugin or theme or them all
If Recovery Mode couldn’t zero in on a problematic plugin, you will have to. To avoid redundancy in our guides, and since this is a common solution for site-related problems, we’ll point you to our guide on fixing the WordPress Admin keeps redirecting problem. More specifically, follow the instructions in methods 2 and 5. Since you can access the WordPress Admin in this case, you can also go to the “Plugins → All Plugins” and “Appearance → Themes” pages and click on Deactivate under an active theme.
5. Expand your PHP memory limit for WordPress
Reaching the PHP memory limit can wreak havoc on your website and either print errors on the front end or prevent it from loading. Therefore, since you already opened wp-config.php in method 2, you can do that again and then find this line:
If it’s lower than that, such as 32M, increase it to 64M. If it’s already 64M; consider boosting it a tad more, such as 128M. Save changes and see if the difficulty persists. Also note that some web hosting providers prevent users from increasing this restriction, or limiting it to a certain number. It would be best to reach out to them, as most have 24/7 live chat or a ticketing system, and ask them to raise the bar.
6. Check for PHP errors if site doesn’t, but WordPress admin works, and fix them
Besides installing themes and plugins or adding code snippets that tax PHP, errors in the code can exhaust the limit and send your site into a tailspin. Luckily, that is a frequent problem you can diagnose by opening the wp-config.php file yet again, then pasting these two lines:
define(‘WP_DEBUG’, true); define( 'WP_DEBUG_LOG', true );
Now your PHP errors will be visible on the front end if it starts working. Otherwise, you have to access error logs by going to the root folder via FTP, then finding the file titled php-errors. You will find lines of detected errors, usually with file paths and problematic lines and characters. For instance
Undefined variable 'a' on line 'number' on the file path <wp-root-folder/some/file/path> or
syntax error, unexpected ')' on the line ...
7. Update or downgrade WordPress or PHP
We also have to presume that a recent update may have messed something up on the front end. Either the PHP version, plugins, themes, or code snippets are outdated and incompatible with the newest WordPress version, or your WordPress version is lagging. In both cases, our guides on upgrading WordPress to the newest version and updating PHP can help. As mentioned, contacting your web hosting provider is always an option—their expertise can help immensely.