“There Has Been A Critical Error On This Website” – NaBloPoMo #8

Herb’s Blog, Herbdate 23287 – 1172

Here’s the haps:

The other day I was extolling the virtues of being self-hosted and I still think it’s best for me, but sometimes you hit something that is a mind-bogglingly annoying challenge. Earlier today (I’m writing this on the 8th to post on the 9th. Somewhere I will have to stick in an extra post.) I updated to WordPress 6.4 and when I went to look at the blog I saw this:

An error message that only said, “There has been a critical error on this website” with a link stating, “Learn more about troubleshooting WordPress.”

No information other than that. This is the WP version of Windows “Blue Screen of Death” and it’s called “The WordPress White Screen of Death” because this is all you get to see. No other information at all. No error codes to look up. No hints. Nothing. The link went to a support page that was not really helpful. I was really aggravated as most of the answers the Google had to provide said there should be an email to the admin with the necessary information in it. Nope. I was still more angry than anything else by the time one answer came up with going into your admin page and turning off all of your plugins. I tried to go to the admin page and started to become more nervous than angry when I got the same screen. I went to my hosting website to access the admin from there. That always works. Usually. This made me start to sweat because no matter what, you should be able to access your site that way.

Thankfully I have always been interested in things related to coding, especially HTML, CSS, and Javascript. I do know some about PHP and I also know the basic rule for any computer language is that if the syntax is not perfect, it won’t work. One little punctuation mark missing or in the wrong place and, poof. Most of my experience and knowledge come from my own putzing and diddle-potzing around. Tinkering here and there. I did write the original herbthiel.com from scratch in Notepad. The current version uses templates I purchased but even then it requires understanding of those languages.

That previous paragraph sounds kind of braggadocious but it really isn’t meant to be. I only know enough to make me frustrated. However, I like solving problems. I like figuring things out and finding resources, which I was able to do. Other times when I have had trouble with WP I have found a site that is incredibly useful and helpful called WPBeginner which is where I wound up again. Even the most experienced person is a beginner sometimes and I consider my spotty knowledge possibly at an intermediate level, but anyway, this site had the answer I needed.

How to Fix The Critical Error in WordPress (Step by Step) was a detailed article that told me what I didn’t want to hear. There were several different, somewhat involved, steps to be taken. One I tried was enabling debugging by editing the wp-config.php which could show what the actual error message was. I was able to access the files and folders through my FTP client and through my host’s CPanel. There were several different error messages that showed up when I did this step and they were pretty convoluted. Another thought was that my theme might have conflicted with something else but this theme, MH Magazine Lite, has been stable for a long time. Besides, I don’t think a problem with a theme could have such drastic results, but you never know. Plugins can cause problems sometimes as well and they suggested deactivating my plugins by changing the folder name. I tried that but it didn’t change anything. Anyway, I tried several of the steps but wound up concluding that one or more of my core WordPress files had gotten corrupted.

I downloaded a new copy of WP 6.4 and uploaded it using an FTP program called CoreFTP Lite. This worked eventually but was very time-consuming. I changed wp-config.php back and switched my plugins folder back on, and everything worked as before. I could have tried restoring a backup from Godaddy, which does a daily backup but I couldn’t remember when I had the problem and wasn’t sure when it began so I might have taken all that time to just restore a corrupted backup. Anyway, I am glad that it is working again.

Some of you can contact WordPress.com support, but I can’t use the Happiness Engineers, I have to be my own Happiness Engineer. There is a lesson to be learned somewhere in that, I think.

While pondering that, here are a few memes I found:


  1. I am so sorry that you have been having these problems with your website. Have you considered dropping your self-hosting program and placing your blog back under supervision of Wordmess.Com? They do all the coding and search engine optimization for blogs in their corral…. or you might want to consider going over to WordPress,org and self-hosting there.

  2. I was wondering why you didn’t reinstall an older backup, and then you explained. Of course, that wouldn’t solve the ‘corrupt’ problem. I have a similar situation which my IT guy takes care of every month for me. I love him.

  3. Waht does “self hosted” mean? You bought a copy of the WordPress software for $xxx.xx and have it installed on a web server somewhere? What are the benefits? The answer would make a great blog.

  4. If it is any consolation to you, WordPress.com developers mess things up regularly and on several occasions did not even know they had done it until I contacted a Happiness Engineer and told them what screw-up I was seeing…

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