How to quickly fix a WordPress blog that was broken by installing a new plugin

wordpress-logoIf you run a WordPress blog, chances are you will install a new plugin that “breaks” your blog at some point. Trust me, it happens to most all of us at one time or another.

I remember the first time it happened to me…

Immediately after the bad plugin was installed, the screen turned solid white and displayed an error message. I couldn’t even get previously viewed pages to load by pressing my browser’s “Back” button!

Worse still, I couldn’t remove the bad plugin via the WordPress Dashboard because it wouldn’t load either! My heart sunk because I just knew I had broken my blog for good. 

As a total newbie, the only thing I knew to do was contact my web host (Hostgator) and ask them to restore my blog from a backup. They did, and my blog was back up and running in less than an hour.

I learned a valuable lesson that day. WordPress is a finicky platform, and the least little thing that goes wrong can give you that dreaded white screen of doom!

As I learned more about the way WordPress works, I came to realize that most issues that rear their ugly heads are actually minor and can be easily fixed. Luckily, that applies to those times when a bad plugin takes down your blog.

In most instances, you can quickly get a broken blog back up and running by simply deleting the bad plugin from the Plugins section of the Dashboard.

There will be times however when you won’t be able to delete the offending plugin from within the Dashboard because the Dashboard itself refuses to load in your web browser. That’s where a good FTP program comes into play.

Issues that arise with your WordPress installation won’t affect your ability to FTP in to the server, so all you need to do is log in with your FTP program and use it to delete the bad plugin.

There are several good free FTP programs to choose from, but I use and recommend FTP Commander because it’s so easy to configure and use.

To quickly fix a broken WordPress blog, simply use your FTP program to navigate to the wp-content/plugins directory of your WordPress installation, then remove the offending plugin by deleting its entire directory. That will get the blog back up and running immediately probably 98% of the time.

All of the above being said, there are rare instances where simply removing the bad plugin won’t repair a blog that was broken by installing a bad plugin.

If the plugin made changes to your blog’s .htaccess file or the WordPress database, you might have to restore the .htaccess file and/or the database from a backup. That’s why it’s important to always have a recent backup of your blog on hand!

There are several ways to back up your WordPress blog. You could always use a plugin like Backup Buddy or BackWPup, but I use and recommend the awesome VaultPress backup service.

With VaultPress, backups are created automatically in the background so you’ll never have to wonder if you have a current backup on hand. Even better, restoring your blog from a backup takes only a mouse click or two from within the VaultPress control panel!

VaultPress isn’t free, but plans start at just $5 a month. I use it on all of my blogs, and I recommend it highly (especially if you earn money from your blog).

Bottom line: You can usually get a blog that’s broken by a bad plugin back up and running in a jiffy by using an FTP program to delete the offending plugin. If that fails however, you can always restore the blog from a backup (so make sure you always have one at the ready).

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