What to do if a plugin breaks your wordpress install.



Oh, sh*t!!! What just happened??? You’ve installed a new plugin with all the happiness and enthusiasm in the world and now you get the blank screen of WordPress death. Now what do you do? Well, hopefully I can give you a hand by sharing some of the things I have done to get around this problem.

Shall we?




First, the most obvious:

Try to login to the admin panel. If you can do that, just deactivate the last plugin you installed and activated and that should get you back to working.

Second, and what seems to be the most recommended method on the net.

You’ll need to FTP or login into your cpanel to reach your file system on your server. If you have installed WP you should know how to get there, if not check with your provider for help.

Basically you will need to do one of two things here:

  • go to your WP install and find /wp-content/plugins/ and rename the offending plugin folder. I generally like to add .old the end of the name so I can keep track of it later.
  • if that doesn’t work, then delete that folder altogether

Next, and the method I find the best for various reasons:

  • we need to login to our PHPmyAdmin, however you do that, and we are going to find where the plugins are stored as activated.
  • go through the list of tables and find the one that says “wp-options“. Click on this and then look for the row called “active-plugins“, I believe its around line 36, and click on edit but not “in line edit”.
  • here is where it gets tricky. We need to edit the field that looks like this:


The “a:21” is vital here and we are going to need to change it to one number less than the number that is shown in your db. In other words, in this case it would be “a:20”. This is the amount of active plugins in the db and if you don’t change it to the appropriate number WP will delete the entire field and you will have to reactivate ALL of the plugins again.

  • next, find the name of the offending plugin in the mass of text you see and select everything as follows:

in the example above it would be: i:2;s:19:"bbpress/bbpress.php"; remember to select at least one of the semicolons, either before or after. All the active plugins in this field will follow this pattern and you can select any plugin this way. Delete this, select save and click go.

Now if you reload your site you should be good to go with no more white screen of death.

Why do I like this method, you ask? Well, it saves you a step. If you rename the folder you are going to have deactivate it somehow or another, reinstall it, etc. This way you have deactivated it and can delete it through your admin panel but all the rest of your plugins and options remain.

Well, that should get you up and running, if you have any questions just drop me a line.

See ya



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