How to Use FTP to Deactivate a Plugin That’s Breaking Your WordPress Site

fix php fatal error in wordpress plugin

WordPress plugins can cause all kinds of errors: 500 internal server errors, PHP parse errors (also called syntax errors), errors that simply whitescreen your entire site, and more.

What’s worse, it’s often the case that a WordPress plugin that’s causing a PHP error will take down not only your site’s frontend, but the backendwp-admin—as well. That means it’s impossible to deactivate the plugin (turn it off) with only WordPress admin access, resulting in a permanently broken site.

There is a fix for this problem, but it requires FTP access (or SSH access if you’re fancy like that). This video shows you how to use FTP to deactivate a plugin that’s erroring and breaking your WordPress site:

Here’s a text summary:

How to Deactivate a Plugin That’s Breaking Your WordPress Site with a Fatal Error

  1. Establish an FTP connection to the site. If you don’t know how to do this, read more about FTP. You’ll need hosting access to the site to be able to do this part.
  2. Navigate to the plugins folder of the site. By default this is /wp-content/plugins.
  3. Find the folder name of the plugin that’s breaking your site.
  4. Rename that folder. In the video example, we rename the folder wpshout-break-everything to wpshout-break-everything-RENAMED.
  5. Reload the site and both the front-end and wp-admin will be back up and working.

Bonus tip: If you don’t know which plugin is breaking your site, you can use FTP to deactivate all plugins at once, by simply renaming the plugins folder itself—for example, to plugins-RENAMED.

Thanks for reading!


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