Fix WordPress Plugin and Database Problems

WordPress is a great Content Management System and it relies on a healthy database to run properly. Plugins are written and provided by many third-party developers and updates come fairly frequently.

There are good ways and easy ways to manage your updates, but there is always the possibility that there may be a conflict between plugins or a corruption to the database at some stage, so it’s a good idea to know how to fix WordPress plugin and database problems.

WordPress Plugin Issues

First of all, let me tell you that the temptation to click the ‘update now’ link can be great.

update wordpress plugin

In most cases you should be OK, but I always advise clients that if they are going to update plugins, they use a free (or paid) FTP Client and take a backup of the plugin on the server first. Doing this gives you the ability to immediately rollback to the previous version in the event of a conflict or a problem. (I have had to do this with NextGen gallery plugins on multiple sites and even keep a copy of a known ‘good’ version on my Hard drive!)

transmitI use Transmit by Panic for my FTP work. Connect to your server and go to wp-content > plugins then save a copy of the individual plugin folder to your desktop. Once you have updated your plugin and it all works as expected, delete the old version. That seems to work well for a safe way of updating my plugins.

If you don’t see the ‘Plugin reactivated successfully‘ message, or you get a white screen in your WordPress admin, you have a problem. In this case, the first thing I would do would be to go back to Transmit, and rename the plugin folder by putting an underscore in the file name: _myplugin etc. This hides it so I can reload my original that I have saved on the desktop. Usually, this works. There may be lots of reasons why plugin updates fail and you can go through a process of deactivating plugins and switching them back on to diagnose the issue if you like.

WordPress Database Corruption Issues

Quick Disclaimer: You undertake the following steps at your own risk! If in doubt, don’t do it and ask someone who is comfortable working with databases to help.

Using the FTP method above will not help you if the database or plugin field in the database becomes corrupted. For this, you have a couple of options, one of which is built in to WordPress itself.

Thoughtfully, the developers wrote repair and optimisation in to WordPress. You will need FTP access to use it. Open your wp-config.php file and look near the end where you see

/* That’s all, stop editing! Happy blogging. */

Immediately below this line, add the following:


allow repair of wordpress database

Once you have done this and saved your file, go to your particular version of this file path: and you will be taken to a screen where you can run repair, or repair and optimise functions.

wordpress repair options


After running either option, you will be advised to remove the line you added to wp-config.php above.

Hopefully that fixed your problem. Another option is to use phpMyAdmin (many web hosts use this to manage your databases) to deactivate all of the plugins in one go on your site.

1. Go to the wp_options table. (If you changed the table prefix it will still be the prefix_options table.)

2. Click the Browse tab and look for the active plugins row. Delete the content of the options_value for the active plugins and this will mean all of your site’s plugins will be deactivated.

plugin option_value


3. Go through your plugins, reactivating them one at a time until you identify conflicts or problems. This may take time if you have a lot of plugins, but it will help you to find out which plugins don’t play nicely!


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