“This site is experiencing technical difficulties“ is a sentence every WordPress owner dreads reading on the homepage. The error message is often synonymous with “There has been a critical error on your website“ or a WordPress white screen of death, with nothing appearing on the front-end. What could be the reason? We don’t know exactly, but we’ll try to provide you with as many possible explanations to help you deduce the cause. We’re sure you’re in panic mode already, so let’s not twiddle our thumbs any further. Here’s how to find the cause of technical difficulties and get your site back online.
To fix “This site is experiencing technical difficulties“ via Admin Section
You’re in luck, in recent versions of WordPress, there is a failsafe, even if you cannot access the back-end. If this fatal error occurs, WordPress will immediately send you an e-mail with a solution to the account used to access the WordPress Admin Section.
- Check your inbox for an e-mail titled Your Site is Experiencing a Technical Issue.
Check your Spam folder too.
- Read the e-mail. If they were able to diagnose the problem, they will list the name of the plugin or theme that caused it.
- If there’s no information about the cause, you must log in to the Dashboard in the Admin section and investigate.
- Click on the link that mentions “recovery mode“.
How to fix “This site is experiencing technical difficulties“ using Recovery Mode
- Clicking on the link will take you to the Admin Section login area in your browser.
- Enter your e-mail address or username and password.
Important. Although the website might be restored to working order for you, it will still show the “This site is experiencing technical difficulties“ error to visitors and even other admins.
- On the top of the Dashboard page, you will see an error such as One or more plugins failed to load properly.
If a theme was the cause, it will say themes instead of plugins.
- Click on Go to the Plugins screen below the message.
If a theme was the problem, it will say Themes in place of Plugins.
- If there are multiple plugins (or themes) listed, the problematic ones will be highlighted.
Additionally, a detailed error log will be listed under the Description.
- Click on Deactivate under the plugin or theme.
Optional. If the error was simple, you can choose to correct the syntax instead of disabling the plugin or theme.
- You cannot verify the state by opening a new tab, because the website is already “fixed“ for you. Instead, click on Exit Recovery in the top right corner.
- Log out of your Admin Section account, then check whether the website is now working.
- If the problem isn’t fixed, it means a new critical error occurred after you fixed the first one. A new recovery mode key will be sent to your e-mail automatically. Repeat the process.
Fixing “This site is experiencing technical difficulties“ via FTP
Wondering how to restore your website if you cannot log in to your Admin Section, and Recovery Key doesn’t work? You must access your website files directly. To do this, you can pick one of the following:
- Download an FTP client.
- After you install and run the program, you will see a Login window.
- Enter your username, password, and hostname. These were provided by the hosting when you made the purchase.
- Unless otherwise specified, don’t change protocol and port number.
- Use your cPanel on your hosting website.
- Look for a web app named Files, FTP, or File Manager.
How to use WordPress Debug Mode
This feature will pinpoint a plugin, theme, or function that is causing the issue. With that information, you can use the steps below to restore your website to its former glory.
- Using FTP, open the root folder (often called public_html).
- Open a file named wp-config.php.
- Find a line that says /* That’s all, stop editing! Happy blogging. */. Add the following code anywhere above that line.
define( 'WP_DEBUG', true);
define( 'WP_DEBUG_LOG', true );
- Refresh your website’s homepage.
- Open the folder named wp-content in your root folder.
- Find a file named debug.log and open it.
- Locate a line named PHP Fatal Error:
- The error in the continuation of that line is the culprit for the fatal error.
- Now that you know what to fix, delete these two lines.
Fixing an error caused by a plugin
We taught you to install a plugin via FTP. Now it’s time to do things in reverse.
- Using FTP, find the root folder of your WordPress website.
- Open a folder named wp-content.
- Find a folder named plugins and open it.
- Download the folder that corresponds to the name of the faulty plugin for backup purposes.
- Either rename the folder or delete it altogether.
- Check whether your website is back online.
How to reset WordPress to default theme using FTP
We already taught you how to delete WordPress themes. In this case, you can also rename the folder of the theme you want to disable if it’s heavily customized. After your website starts working again, feel free to install a new WordPress theme afterward.
Contact your hosting
All of the best-rated hosting services have a 24/7 Customer Support chat. Although they might not be obligated to help, at the very least they will investigate the issue. Additionally, an outdated version of PHP is the cause of many function errors that affect themes and plugins. This can easily lead to a critical error we’re talking about. It will also be mentioned in the Debug Mode and can be fixed on your end. Do this:
- Log in to your cPanel on the hosting’s website.
- Find an option called Select PHP version or something similar.
- You can see the current version. For example, 7.3.
- In most cases, you can choose the new version from a drop-down list.
- Click Apply or OK, depending on the button you have available.