How To Fix A Broken Website

Website code error

If your website is down, showing just a white screen or a security certificate error – then you need to fix that fast. Every day (hour!) is costing you money.

So how do you go about fixing a broken site?

Let’s get started…

The best possible way to fix errors is to just fire off a message to your trusty web guy. I’m not joking. You really should have someone on a retainer to look after your site and do minor updates etc. So you can get just get back to work while they fix it for you.

OK – I know, you wouldn’t be here if you had a guy already in place 🙂

So the second best way is to get someone to do a ‘one-off fix’ for you. Seriously. If your business isn’t building and managing websites, then this isn’t a task to be wasting your time on. Here’s someone who can fix my website. Your time is far more valuable elsewhere.

But I Really Want To Fix My Website Errors

OK. In that case, you’re going to need to do some digging.

WARNING: Before you do anything else, backup your site. Or make sure you have a recent backup and check that it works! If you’re going to be making changes and you’re not 100% sure what you’re doing, you need a safety net.

To have any chance of fixing errors, you need to be able to accurately identify what isn’t working, and accurately describe it so you can Google that specifically.

Find The Error Log

The best way to do that is to find the error logs for your site. Your site may be outputting some kind of error to the screen. But this is usually not very helpful because websites are usually built to avoid displaying sensitive information when they error (if yours is, that’s something to be concerned about).

Where the errors logs can be found depends on your web hosting. If there is some kind of visual admin interface (e.g. cPanel) then it should be pretty easy to find. If you’re using a VPS then it’s likely somewhere in /var/log/.

Once you have the logs you need to find the most recent entries, and look specifically for error messages. If you have some technical knowledge, this may tell you enough about what isn’t working to be able to fix it.

If it’s a WordPress site this may reveal that the error originates from a specific plugin. You may see a file path mentioned in the error message such as /wp-content/plugins/plugin-name-here/somefile.php. If so, deleting the files for that plugin make get your site back up and running. You then need to decide how important that plugin was.

If the error message doesn’t mean anything to you, try copying and pasting the error into Google (remove any sensitive information or file paths). There is a good chance someone else has experienced something similar and this will reveal a way to fix it. Look out for search results from sites like StackOverflow. This is a great site for technical help, but it’s really for programmers talking to programmers, so don’t expect anything to be in plain english!

How Do I Fix My Website Security Certificate?

If you’re getting messages about your website not being secure, it may be that your security certificate has not been renewed. Check that first. In your web browser you can click on the padlock icon near the web address to get more information about the certificate, and to find out what the expiry date is (or was!).

There are two main types of certificate these days. Those issued by LetsEncrypt which are free, and those which are paid for. If yours is paid for and it’s expired, then you need to contact your web host and pay that renewal quickly! LetsEncrypt on the other hand should just automatically renew – you may be able to resolve the problem by forcing it to renew manually (check in cPanel). If not your web host should be able to help.

If you’re getting a not secure broken padlock icon on some pages, that’s a different problem. This means you’ve got some content in those pages that has been incorrectly linked. Typically images, but it can be other code. It can be as simple as changing the link to that image from http:// to https://.

Keep A Note Of Changes You Make

I recommend you keep a log of everything you do whilst tracking down problems. And if something doesn’t help, then reverse the change, don’t just leave it and keep making more changes.

Because ultimately if you can’t fix it yourself and need to get help, it will cost you a whole lot less if you can provide honest details of what you tried. When you’re not sure what you’re doing it’s easy to make things worse, and easier to fix those things if you know what’s been done before by someone else!

Good luck 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *