If you are a regular WordPress user, chances are you will encounter errors from time to time. Critical bugs, technical difficulties, or the dreaded WordPress white screen of death can ruin your day and take your site offline, leaving unsuspecting visitors wondering what’s going on. Not only will this cost you valuable clicks, but it may keep visitors from ever returning to your site. These issues are short-lived and easier to fix thanks to the WordPress recovery model.

The Ultimate Guide to WordPress Recovery Mode

What is WordPress Recovery Mode?

Before the release of WordPress 5.2, you would usually see a WordPress white screen of death. Since the introduction of WordPress recovery mode in May 2019, users have often seen error messages on their websites when something bad happens. When a problem is detected, WordPress sends an email to the administrator with a login link and details about the error.

The Ultimate Guide to WordPress Recovery Mode

You might be wondering what caused these messages. Most of the time this is due to broken code or a bad plugin update. Other possible reasons are plugin conflicts, theme issues, or custom code you may have implemented. Whatever the reason, WordPress is good at identifying when something is wrong and letting you know about it.

What happens when WordPress enters recovery mode?

When an error occurs, WordPress will try to identify the problem and isolate it. As mentioned earlier, an email is generated and sent to the site administrator. Next, WordPress will disable error codes so that you can log into your site to correct the problem. Note that recovery mode will not fix your website for you. It only gives you access to the site so you can correct it. The rest of the world sees the error message, so it’s critical to fix the problem as soon as possible.

What can you do in recovery mode?

The best thing about recovery mode is its ability to resolve errors without the need for FTP. This is useful when dealing with plugin or theme issues and fixing a line or two of broken code. When you log into recovery mode, you may know about your problem directly in the WordPress dashboard. Recovery mode is indicated by a big red button in the upper right corner of the admin bar.

You can fix problematic plugins

In this example, you will see that the error stems from the plugin not loading properly. The dashboard displays an error message describing the problem and provides you with links to fix it.

After clicking the provided link, you will be redirected to a new screen showing the problem plugin, along with lines of code detailing the specific problem encountered. In this example, you have two options. Disable the plugin, or keep using it. Obviously, the safe bet is to deactivate the plugin. You will then troubleshoot the problem that occurs and take steps to fix it.

Solve theme problems

This example gives us a critical error with more specific details about what caused the error. Basically, we removed a semicolon in the theme’s functions.php file to trigger recovery mode.

WordPress did its thing and generated an email letting us know there was a problem. As shown in the screenshot, we have provided a link to log in to correct the problem. Also, WordPress lets us know exactly what the error is.

After logging in, we found an issue with our theme. WordPress prompts us to click through to the themes screen.

At this point, we know what the problem is (because we caused it) and correct it. However, if you find yourself in a similar situation, your next move should be to disable your theme, check your functions.php file for errors, and enable the default theme when looking for the code that’s causing the problem.

Does Safe Mode do the same thing as Recovery Mode?

In short, no. Themes like Divi often use safe mode to disable plugins, custom scripts, and child themes. Also, some plugins like WP Safe Mode offer the same functionality. The difference between Recovery Mode and Safe Mode is simple. In recovery mode, the specific plugin or theme causing the problem is disabled, not all themes and plugins.

Why do you need WordPress recovery mode?

There are several reasons why WordPress recovery mode can come in handy. First, it allows you to identify site errors by displaying different types of error messages on your site. Whether it’s a serious error message, a technical difficulty, or just a PHP error, recovery mode can prove useful in resolving them. Another possible reason is that your theme or one of the plugins is not supported by your current version of PHP.

Common errors displayed in WordPress recovery mode

Most of the time, WordPress will alert you to the problem by giving you an error message. You may see various types of messages, so we’ll help you identify them and the possible cause for each.

1. Critical error message

WordPress critical error message

Critical error messages in WordPress recovery mode usually contain the following message:

There has been a critical error on your website. Please check you site admin email inbox for instruction.

Common Causes of Critical Error Messages

There could be many reasons why you are getting this error message. Most of the time, it can be narrowed down to a few. Let’s explore the most common reasons.

Problematic plugin

The large number of plugins available in WordPress is one of its best features. Having said that, it can be a double-edged sword. When installing and using new plugins for your site, it’s usually best to do your research. Some are outdated, no longer supported, or incompatible with the latest version of WordPress and should be avoided. However, even the best plans can sometimes be ruined. In this case, recovery mode is your friend.

Error in custom code

Even seasoned WordPress developers sometimes make mistakes. WordPress is great because you can customize it to suit your needs. There are many opportunities to write custom scripts, create custom plugins, or simply use a little javascript to enhance the functionality of the theme. Sometimes all it takes is one missing semicolon to bring the whole thing down. With recovery mode, you don’t have to worry about building from scratch when you make a mistake. Problems are often identified, sometimes down to the line of code, so you can fix them and get back up and running quickly.

Incomplete or outdated themes

Themes are great for making your WordPress stand out from the crowd. Themes like Divi allow you to customize your website extensively, providing endless design options. There are 1000 themes on the market. Sometimes when the theme is updated, the wires will cross and your theme may break. Also, in some cases, you installed the theme and forgot to update it. If WordPress releases an updated version that is incompatible with your theme, you may receive a technical difficulty error message.

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