What is a Fatal Error in WordPress?

Last Updated on 16th September 2023 by Ajmer Singh

WordPress is a popular platform for building and maintaining websites, but like any other technology, it’s not immune to errors.

One of the most dreaded issues WordPress users face is the fatal error, which can take down a website and disrupt online business operations.

In this article, we’ll take a look at what a fatal error in WordPress is and explore how to fix it.

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Fatal Errors in WordPress and Fixes!

1. Fatal Error Definition

fatal error definition

Explanation of fatal error in WordPress

A fatal error is a type of error that prevents a website from functioning.

It typically occurs when WordPress encounters a problem that it can’t resolve, such as a coding error, plugin conflict, or a problem with the theme.

Importance of fixing fatal errors

It’s crucial to fix fatal errors as quickly as possible because they can cause your website to go down, leaving your visitors unable to access your site.

If your site is down for an extended period, it can negatively impact your search engine rankings, user experience, and ultimately, your revenue.

2. Common Causes of Fatal Errors in WordPress

Common Causes of Fatal Errors in WordPress

Plugin incompatibility

Plugins are essential to adding functionality to your WordPress site, but they can also cause conflicts and errors, especially if they’re outdated or not compatible with your version of WordPress.

Theme incompatibility

Like plugins, themes can also cause fatal errors if they’re not compatible with your version of WordPress or other plugins you’re using.

WordPress core file issues

Issues with WordPress core files can cause fatal errors. This can happen if you accidentally delete or modify a core file or if a core file becomes corrupted.

PHP errors

PHP errors can cause fatal errors in WordPress, especially if they’re related to syntax, execution time, or memory limits.

Memory limits

WordPress has a set memory limit for your website, and if you exceed this limit, it can cause fatal errors.

This is particularly true for websites with large databases or high traffic.

3. Identifying a Fatal Error in WordPress

Identifying a Fatal Error in WordPress

Symptoms of fatal errors

The most common symptom of a fatal error in WordPress is the white screen of death, which appears when you try to access your website, but the screen is blank.

Other symptoms include error messages, error codes, or a partially loaded website.

Understanding error messages

If you’re seeing an error message, it can provide insight into what’s causing the fatal error.

Some common error messages include “Fatal error: Allowed memory size,” “Fatal error: Call to undefined function,” and “Fatal error: Cannot redeclare.”

Troubleshooting techniques

If you’re unsure what’s causing the fatal error, you can use various troubleshooting techniques.

For example, disabling plugins or switching to a default theme can help determine if the problem lies with your plugins or theme.

4. How to Fix a Fatal Error in WordPress

How to Fix a Fatal Error in WordPress

Basic troubleshooting steps

The first step in fixing a fatal error is to perform some basic troubleshooting.

This includes clearing your cache, deleting temporary files, and restarting your web server.

Disabling plugins and themes

If a plugin or theme is causing the fatal error, you can disable them one by one until you identify the problematic one.

You can do this by accessing your website through FTP and renaming the plugins and themes folders.

Updating WordPress and PHP versions

Outdated versions of WordPress and PHP can cause fatal errors. To update WordPress, navigate to the Updates page in your WordPress dashboard.

To update PHP, you’ll need to contact your web host or server administrator.

However, if you are using Cloudways as your host then they provide “safe updates” as a feature that updates your website without any issues.

Editing files via FTP

If you’re comfortable editing files via FTP, you can try to resolve the fatal error by making changes to your website’s code.

However, this approach should be used with caution, as making changes to core files can cause further issues.

Seeking professional help

If you’re unable to fix the fatal error yourself, it may be time to seek professional help.

A WordPress developer or support team can help diagnose the problem and provide solutions to fix the error.

5. Preventing Fatal Errors in WordPress

Preventing Fatal Errors in WordPress

Regular backups

One of the best ways to prevent fatal errors in WordPress is by performing regular backups of your website.

This way, if something does go wrong, you can restore your site to a previous version.

Keeping WordPress up-to-date

Keeping WordPress and all plugins and themes up-to-date is critical in preventing fatal errors.

Developers frequently release updates to fix bugs, add new features, and improve security.

Being cautious with plugins and themes

When adding new plugins or themes to your website, be cautious and only install reputable ones from trusted sources.

Also, be sure to read the reviews and check if the plugin or theme is compatible with your version of WordPress.

Looking for a compatible and well-coded theme: Try Themify Ultra – The theme that I use on my websites.

Monitoring website performance

Monitoring your website’s performance can help you identify any issues early on and prevent fatal errors.

You can use website monitoring tools to track website speed, uptime, and performance.

Wrapping Up

A fatal error in WordPress can be a daunting experience, but with the right approach, you can fix the problem and prevent it from happening again.

By taking steps to prevent fatal errors, such as performing regular backups, keeping your site up-to-date, being cautious with plugins and themes, and monitoring your website’s performance, you can ensure your website runs smoothly and your visitors have a positive user experience.

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