Solve WordPress plugin conflict and other plugin problems

Plugins are the cause of many WordPress problems and the issues you can have range from minor to serious. A bad plugin can bring down a whole site. Solve plugin problems in WordPress.

It is not always obvious that a problem with a website or blog is due to a plugin, but it is actually the first place to look for a cause. Not all problems are plugin-related of course, but a lot of errors are and this means that it makes them a good place to start investigating problems. Here are some useful tips for solving plugin problems.

If you have problems with your website or blog, people often ask, why is WordPress not working? Is WordPress currently down? Is it me or is it down for everyone?

There is sometimes a bit of confusion over WordPress.com and self-hosted WordPress, often called WordPress.org. WordPress as a website builder app. WordPress.com is a web host that runs WordPress, but there are many other web hosting companies that run WordPress too. They are called self-hosted.

If one web hosting company goes down, it does not affect any other hosting company. All are independent, so if you have a problem with your site, it is likely to be just your site. WordPress does not go down or stop working for everyone.

If you have problems, with your site, it is worth checking the web host for issues or searching Twitter. People often complain on Twitter about web hosting problems within minutes of a problem occurring.

WordPress plugins at wordpress.org
There are around 60,000 plugins for WordPress

If you know there is a widespread hosting problem, there is nothing you can do but wait for it to be fixed. Most of the time a WordPress problem is limited to your site. Most of the time it is a plugin problem. Let’s look at what can be done about plugin problems.

Try a different browser, computer, phone

If you have a problem with your WordPress site, one of the first questions you should ask is, is it me or is it the same for everyone? Sometimes, it is the web browser you are using, the computer or the phone. Check the website with a different web browser, like Chrome, Safari, Edge, or Firefox. Check the site on a different computer or phone.

If all browsers and all devices show the same problem, it is the site. If only one browser or device shows a problem, it is probably the browser or device. Get your friends to try your site and report if there is a problem to confirm that there is a real problem and it is not just you.

Limit WordPress plugins

One way to solve WordPress plugin problems is to use as few as possible. Unless you are an expert website developer and are familiar with coding, it is impossible to create a WordPress site without any plugins at all. You must have some. However, some plugins have bugs, some have compatibility issues, and some have security flaws.

The fewer plugins that are installed on your site, the less likely you are to run into plugin conflicts and other problems. If you have 50 plugins, and some sites really do have this many, the likelihood of encountering a plugin conflict are much greater than if you only had 10.

Look at each plugin that is installed in your WordPress website or blog and ask yourself whether you really need it. If you think you can live without it, disable it. If you don’t miss it, delete it.

Check WordPress plugins

Do not install a plugin and then forget about it, even if you have automatic updates set up for it. WordPress will not tell you if a plugin has become out of date, incompatible with the latest version, has unfixed bugs or security flaws, or has not been updated in years. It will let you continue using a bad plugin.

WordPress plugin information at the wordpress.org website
See plugin info at wordpress.org

If you have a security plugin installed on your site, which is recommended, it may warn you of these issues, but you should not rely on it. Check for yourself. Every so often, at least once a year and every six months to be extra safe, perform a manual check of each plugin to see if there are any issues.

Go to www.wordpress.org/plugins and search for the plugin. See when it was last updated. Any plugin that has not received updates for a year or more may have been abandoned.

Check the compatibility with the current WordPress version. If it has not been tested with the latest one, it does not mean it does not work. However, a plugin that says it has been tested up to version 5.4 when we are nearly half a dozen updates past that, is suspect. It may not be compatible anymore and conflicts with other plugins, themes, PHP and so on, are likely.

Look at user reviews and comments for issues that people have discovered. Look at the rating and see how many for 1-, 2- and 3-star reviews it has. Problems may be apparent from the comments.

WordPress plugin reviews and ratings
WordPress plugin reviews and ratings at wordpress.org

Remove plugins that are old, have not had updates or when users report problems. Look for alternatives that offer similar features.

How can you tell a WordPress plugin problem?

You may not be able to tell if a problem on your website or blog is caused by a WordPress plugin, but they are such a common source of problems that you have to at least suspect them. Got a weird problem? Something not working? Strange things happening? It is probably a plugin issue.

Plugins can cause problems all on their own, but sometimes they conflict with other plugins and two will not work together. They can have issues with themes too.

Check the plugin developer’s site

Sometimes the developer of a plugin is aware of a conflict with one or more other plugins. They might even post the information on their website. A good example is Jetpack Known Issues page, which lists many conflicts with other plugins.

MemberPress Known Plugin and Theme conflicts and incompatibilities is another example and it contains a long list of conflicts with plugins and themes. There are helpful solutions to the problems listed though.

There are too few of these resources on plugin developers’ websites and they are hard to find, but you should try. Go to the help, support or FAQ section of plugin developers’ sites and see if there are known conflicts.

Pros and cons of plugin auto-updates

Go to the Plugins page in WordPress and there is an option to enable auto-updates. Should you use it? If there is a problem with a plugin, the issue will be reported back to the developer one way or another, and an update will be released. If auto-updates is enabled for a plugin, it will get the fix straight away without you having to do anything.

That is good, but on the other hand, updates occasionally break things, so an update can fix problems or cause them.

WordPress plugin auto-updates settings
WordPress plugin auto-update options

There is no best option. By not enabling auto-update, you risk missing out on important bug and security fixes that can solve or prevent problems with your website. By enabling them, you risk compatibility issues, conflicts with other plugins and themes, and bugs.

Some people have dozens of websites and manually updating them all is a time-consuming task. Auto-updates cut down on the maintenance. If you only have one website and you can remember to check it weekly, then manual updates around a week after a plugin is updated is good. You can check forums and discussion groups to see if anyone else has reported any issues before you go ahead.

How to solve plugin issues fast

If you have issues with your website and you suspect they may be caused a plugin, the question is, which plugin? The usual advice is to disable all plugins, which should make the problem go away. Then enable the plugins one by one and check the site for the problem appearing. When it reappears, the last plugin you enabled is the cause.

This is a good method if you have just half a dozen plugins in a site, but what if you have a lot? Disabling 48 plugins and enabling them one by one and testing the site for conflicts and other problems is slow and tedious.

An alternative method if you have many plugins is to divide them in half. If you have 48 plugins, disable 24. If the problem persists, it is one of the 24 still enabled. If it goes away, the problem is in the 24 plugins you disabled. Either way, in one step you cut down the number of plugins to a more manageable 24.

It can be done again. Disable 12 and if the problem persists, it is one of the 12 still enabled. If the error goes away, it is one of the 12 plugins disabled.

Dividing plugins by half, 48 becomes 24 and then 24 becomes 12. In two steps you have narrowed down the plugin conflict or problem into a more manageable number.

Avoid free premium plugins

Search the internet and you will find free premium plugins or nulled plugins as they are sometimes called. They are basically hacked plugins that illegally bypass license restrictions. You don’t know what bugs or even malware the hacker may have introduced. Avoid them to avoid conflicts and problems with plugins.

If you have any plugins of this type already installed on your WordPress site, replace them with the official plugin from the developer or the WordPress.org plugins collection.

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