I’ve been working in WordPress customer support for over three years now. Very often the problems we encounter are similar. While developers might be able to do troubleshooting without any help, I wanted to make a list of the plugins I regularly use for different types of issues.
None of these should mess up your site, but the golden rule is to make a backup before getting started.
If I’m being very conservative, I’d say that at least 25% of all issues that are reported to our team are related to conflicts between plugins or between the theme and WooCommerce. In a lot of cases, we will start by checking if this is the case or not.
The Health Check plugin is a very recent release that makes it extremely easy to check for conflicts. Not only does it confirm some of the core aspects of WordPress environments, it also has a “troubleshooting” functionality.
As soon as you activate that, it’ll disable all plugins and revert to a default theme. You can then re-enable all plugins one by one and test whether there are still problems.
The best thing is that this is only the case for you! So while your users are still visiting the page and life is as usual you’re doing the testing, and they don’t notice a thing. We’ve seen a few instances where it does cause problems afterwards so make sure to make a backup.
Meks Quick Plugin Disabler does something similar, but only focuses on the plugins. It’s even faster than the Health Check plugin. You just go to the plugins page, and there’s a button to disable all active plugins.
Finally, if you have an idea of which specific function is targetted, then it’s often not necessary to disable all plugins. With String Locator, you can search all of the code on your site for that function without having to access FTP and probably find the culprit a lot faster.
If you’ve found the culprit and it’s, for example, a newer version of WooCommerce that’s not working, you can use the WP Rollback plugin to go back to the previous version. This only works with themes and plugins that are hosted on WordPress.org.
In all cases, when troubleshooting it’s a good idea to not only make a backup but to also create a staging site. In most cases, your hosting company will be able to help you with that.
However, there’s also a plugin that works in many cases: WP Staging. You can easily create a stating environment with that and troubleshoot the heck out of your site.
Email & Cron problems
Sometimes WordPress and WooCommerce emails aren’t received. This might mean two things:
- They aren’t sent
- They are actually interrupted somewhere
While our users are likely to assume that they aren’t sent, we will always check this first. There are several plugins for that, but the most popular ones in our support team are Email Log and WP Mail Logging.
If they indeed do not show up there, then it’s a problem of the emails not being sent. In several (if not most) cases with the emails being configured correctly, this will be related to Cron, which is a job scheduler tool. It makes that emails can be scheduled. Checking if there are cron problems can be done with WP Crontrol.
We, by the way, have a very helpful document for WooCommerce email troubleshooting. You can find the doc here. Next to cron problems, another very common one within WooCommerce is people not using the right order statuses.
Often I will also want to quickly have a look at what the users have on their site. There are also a few plugins that can help with that.
What The File gives you which template is used on any given page of the website.
Sometimes customers will ask to check their custom code. While we don’t offer support in creating that code, we do regularly have a quick check to see if the code is running. Of course, you’d normally go to your
functions.php file, but a plugin like Functionality can make it easy to enable and disable snippets.
Next, while we do not create custom code for customers, we do like to point them to helpful tools for seeing what’s possible. The WP Inspect plugin is a great way to see all available hooks on any template of a site.
Which plugins do you use for troubleshooting your WordPress website?
Hat tip to my colleagues Will, Riaan, Luminus, and Tommy for recommending one or several of these plugins.