What are the common causes of WordPress website crashes? (And how to avoid them)

As a website design and content management platform, the flexibility and the sheer number of options that WordPress provides are undisputed. Whether it is a wide collection of themes to design aesthetic websites or plugins to integrate functionalities, or an active ecosystem surrounding it, you can be sure that WordPress has whatever it takes to get your website up and running.

However, keeping a website up and functional at all times isn’t always easy. Whether it is human errors or external hacks and attacks, no website is ever 100% safe from downtime due to a website crash.

So, why do WordPress sites keep crashing?

Through this article, we answer that question with a look at the six most common causes of WordPress website crashes and how you can avoid them.


Common causes of WordPress website crashes

While this is not an exhaustive list, here are the six most common reasons why WordPress sites keep crashing:


1. WordPress software compatibility issues

Have you recently installed the latest WordPress theme or plugin on your site when it’s running an older version of the WordPress core? Yes, this can sometimes cause incompatibility issues, as the new plugin/theme may not have been developed for an older WordPress version – resulting in the infamous “white screen of death” or a site crash.

The best way to prevent compatibility issues is to update the underlying WordPress version before installing the latest plugin/theme version.


2. Your WordPress site is hacked

Another common reason for a crashed WordPress site is that it has been hacked or compromised by hackers. For instance, DDoS attacks overload WordPress web servers with thousands of fake requests in a short time. These floods of requests can overwhelm your server resources, causing your website to crash.

Other forms of malware attacks remain undetected for days (or even weeks) and can slowly damage your backend files, thus increasing your server load.


3. Web host problems

A reliable WordPress web hosting platform is expected to keep your hosted site safe and operational. However, at certain times, they could also face problems like a server outage, malware attacks, or insufficient server resources. This could result in the crash of all websites hosted on their servers.


4. Accidental deletion of WordPress files or folders

Imagine accidentally deleting a crucial WordPress file or folder! That could immediately cause your website to crash. Generally, this happens during WordPress maintenance and could be because of deleting a critical plugin, installation folder, or user profile.

On certain occasions, a server cleanup script during maintenance could accidentally delete multiple user files, causing your website to crash. Additionally, hackers could also gain access to your WordPress backend files and delete or corrupt critical files like wp-config.php or .htaccess.


5. Accidental power shutoff at data centers

Emergency power shutdowns at data centers can be another reason behind website crashes. Most data centers have an emergency power off facility that is helpful in the event of any fire or natural disaster. However, this facility could accidentally be used by authorized personnel during normal operations, resulting in a complete power outage.

Accidental power shutoffs are not specific to WordPress sites – and can happen to any functional website.


6. Expired WordPress domains

This may come as a surprise, but a common reason why visitors are unable to reach a website is that its owners have simply forgotten to renew the domain.

Typically, a site domain address is valid for one to up to three years. Most WordPress domain providers send timely reminders to renew the subscription.  However, when you fail to make the renewal payment, it could cause your website to go down.


Now that we’ve looked at six of the most common reasons for a website going down, let us look at a few effective ways to avoid a WordPress crash.


How to prevent WordPress Crashes

Here are 7 tried and trusted ways of preventing WordPress crashes:


1. Uninstall all unused plugins and themes

The popularity of the WordPress platform can be gauged from the availability of thousands of plugins and themes that are available to download and use. However, the downside is there is an equal number of low-quality plugins/themes that can negatively impact your website speed and performance. Having too many of these can overload and ultimately crash your website

Take regular stock of all installed plugins/themes on your site – and uninstall those that you are no longer using.


2. Install a security plugin

A security plugin is among the best ways to secure your website by detecting and removing any malware from your WordPress site. Install a trusted security plugin like Sucuri or MalCare to remove malware infections before they can seriously damage and crash your website.

Besides this, you can implement additional website security measures like applying regular WordPress updates or installing a firewall to stop your website from crashing. Security plugins like MalCare take things a step further through features such as an integrated firewall that helps to keep bad traffic away from your site, and inbuilt WordPress hardening workflows that can make it hard for hackers to tamper with your site even if they make their way in.



3. Opt for a cloud-based backup plugin

A WordPress backup tool essentially takes daily or hourly backups of your website files so that in the event of a crash, your website can be restored quickly using the latest backup file.

What happens when you also lose your stored backup files to the same crash? This is why you should opt for a cloud-based backup solution that stores your website backup files on an independent cloud location. This ensures that even when your entire website goes down, the backup files are safe and ready to be restored. For offsite storage and automated and scheduled backups, you can use a backup plugin like BlogVault.


4. Test your updates on a staging site

A staging site is essentially a replica or clone of your live website, where you can first test all the latest updates to your themes, plugins, and core WordPress, and then merge the updates only if there are no issues.

With website staging in place, you no longer need to apply your WordPress updates directly on the live website and risk your website crashing.

Be sure to take a website backup before applying the updates. If you do not want to make an additional investment in staging, we recommend the BlogVault tool for its free in-built staging feature.


5. Renew your domain on time

This is probably the easiest way to prevent your WordPress site from crashing. Sign in to your website domain account and check if you have correctly entered your contact details and payment method. Further, you can set up the “auto-renewal” feature with the correct credit card details. This ensures that the payment is automatically completed before the expiry of the domain name.

Or you could simply set reminders for renewing the website domain using a digital calendar with automatic notifications.


6. Restrict file or folder modifications

Proper website management can prevent the accidental deletion of critical WordPress files and folders. One measure is to restrict access to backend website files and folders only to trusted users or those with administrator rights or privileges. These are experienced WordPress users who are skilled at working safely with sensitive files and folders.

Further, try to restrict the number of “admin” users who have higher privileges on your site. Assign lesser user roles like editor or subscriber to other users so they have limited access to website files and folders, thus reducing the chances of accidental deletion.


7. Switch to managed hosting.

Despite implementing all these preventive measures on your WordPress site, a weak web host can compromise them and still end up crashing your hosted site. If you are still using a shared web host, consider switching to a managed host that can deliver superior website performance and also keep it safe. With Brontobytes, you can take advantage of the best features of managed hosting such as an unlimited number of subdomains, daily backups, free SSL certification, and high site bandwidth.


A website crash affects more than just your website. Repeated crashes impact user experience and brand reputation while downtime could damage your SEO rankings.

We hope this article helps you better manage and maintain your WordPress site to prevent crashes. Are there any other measures you recommend? Please let us know in the comments below.

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