What Causes a WordPress Website to go Down? (incl solutions)

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Hey, did your website went down? Don’t panic. It’s either because of your host, plugins or website management

In this article, I’ll explore the most common possibilities and their solutions. Starting from problems that you can’t personally tackle and moving into issues that you or an expert can handle.

The full list we’ll explore is

  • Unreliable host
  • Planned or Unplanned maintenance
  • Datacenter issues
  • DDoS attacks
  • Poor Coding
  • Outdated CMS software
  • Hacking and Malware
  • High traffic

Let’s begin.

1. Unreliable host

This first problem is a huge problem. If you give in to the marketing, most likely you’re hosting on an EIG company. Since they own most of the hosts out there it’s difficult to escape them.

But being big doesn’t mean being reliable. Often times reliability is what makes a big company, but not EIG, they just bought all the host companies that they could buy.

Anyways, let’s not dwell too long on the negatives because they do have benefits. For example: Bluehost is one of the cheapest but it’s not reliable. SiteGround (Not owned by EIG) is way more reliable but not as cheap.

But the most reliable is DreamHost according to a test conducted by websitetooltester.com. The results of the test is displayed in the table below.

Host Reliability/Uptime
Speed (Seconds) Support
BlueHost99.983.32? what support?

To be frank, bad support is expected from EIG companies. And that’s going to be a major factor in solving problems relating to why your website may go down.

The solution

BlueHost, DreamHost and Siteground are the three hosts officially recommended by WordPress. Our recommendation is SiteGround or Dreamhost if you want overall good, reliable hosting. Bluehost if you want cheap hosting.

2. Planned or unplanned maintenance

website maintenance

So this is another problem related to hosting. Normally, you would get notifications in your email about maintenance so you can be prepared when it happens.

SiteGround displays its schedule in the Uptime Monitoring tab of their admin panel so you can get additional information.

For unplanned maintenance

Unplanned maintenance can be prompted by emergencies such as natural disasters. For this, I don’t think there’s a solution but we’ll go in-depth with this as we talk about datacenter issues.

The solution

There is no solution to planned maintenance. But, if you think about it, if maintenance happens too frequently, then something is always broken.

If this is what you experience then try to use one of the hosts mentioned above.

3. Data center issues

As I mentioned before, emergencies such as natural disasters can force your host into unplanned maintenance. But, using a good host can minimize downtime.

For example: SiteGround has multiple data centers that create redundancies in place to keep you connected in cases of emergencies. These data centers have multiple power sources to protect against energy-related issues.

Plus they partner with Google to provide green energy to their data sites. Hosts that adopt this type of pre-emptive model ensure the most efficient uptime.

The solution

Well, I don’t want to sound like a broken record but to be on the safer side, choose a good host.

4. Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack

DDoS attacks happen when your site gets spammed by lots of bots at once to overload your server. You know, like filling the lanes of a highway. Yeah, traffic jams.

This tactic has been around for ages and I’m tempted to say there is nothing you can do, but there is. So let’s explore the solution.

The solution

Use a good quality host. Why? Well, since this problem has been around for ages, some hosts have implemented security measures such as adding CDN to their networks to prevent DDoS attacks. Hardware firewalls, connection limits and login limits also help in protecting from DDoS attacks.

And those services can be provided by plugins, but it’s much better to have them out of the box.

Using Security Plugins

Sucuri – Sucuri is a WordPress firewall plugin offering scans, hack blocking and speed features, but most of all DDoS mitigation and protection. Their paid plans offer unlimited cleanups and they’re especially suited for persons who want to sit back and let trusted professionals do the job.

The amazing thing is that they protect all major CMS platforms.

Wordfence – The other plugin recommendation is Wordfence. It comes with all the features you’d expect from fort Knox for websites.

  • WordPress firewall
  • Security scanner
  • Live traffic
  • IP blacklisting
  • SEO spam filters
  • Malicious redirects detection

And much more.

We use iThemes security on all websites that purchase website care plans.

Using a CDN

Content delivery networks such as Cloudflare flex their muscles when it comes to stopping DDoS attacks. There are other recommendations that I will share, but let me tell you how Cloudflare stands out.

You see, the architecture of Cloudflare is basically designed from the beginning to handle large DDoS attacks. So naturally, they have one of the largest capacities to stop malicious attacks.

And they don’t seem to be halting growth anytime soon.

But stopping DDoS isn’t what CDNs are normally known for, speed as well. And yes, in all those fronts, Cloudflare is the best free CDN for WordPress users. Period! Their premium plans only extend their features, so naturally once you try, you most likely will buy.

Some of the few big clients that use Cloudflare

Other free recommendations are.

  • Incapsula
  • Photon by Jetpack
  • And Swarmify

Paid recommendations are.

  • Amazon AWS (we use this on our site care packages)
  • Google Cloud CDN
  • And Microsoft Azure CDN

WordPress website maintenance

Atop using a CDN, having proper site care practices is key to keeping your website from going down. And we’ll discuss this more later on, but the key benefit is having software bundles where you would otherwise pay for individually.

Take for instance Sitepact. We offer over $2,000 worth of site optimization plugins that you would normally have to buy one by one. So purchasing a plan not only saves time but it also saves money; which in turn gives you more resources to reinvest into your business. Talk about a win-win!

But that’s not all we can do, let’s look at the next reason your website may go down to find out.

5. Poor Coding – Website, Plugins, and themes

 fatal error

Can you believe web developers have the audacity to write poorly written code? Sickening! But, you can’t always blame them; they may lack the necessary experience and are actually doing their best. Nevertheless, that’s another reason why your website may go down.

All it takes to learn to code is a bit of time, some mistakes, and boom you have experience.

Your website may require specific functions implemented in your theme, a feature customized in your plugins or advanced features implemented on your webpages. There are only two solutions to this problem so let’s get into it.

The solution

  • Spend time and learn to code. This is not a bad option so let me tell you the benefits and drawbacks.
Self Coding AdvantagesSelf Coding Disadvantages
Increase technical knowledgeYou may break your website often
Save MoneyTakes time to learn
Take as long as you wantYou could focus your energy somewhere else
  • WordPress Website maintenance. As I was mentioning earlier, you will have access to top security plugins that will save you money. But that’s only part of it. The second part is having a skilled team of developers fine-tuning your website’s code from start to finish. That will save you time.
Hiring Website Maintenance Advantages Hiring Website Maintenance
You will have an expert working withYou may not increase technical knowledge
It saves timeIt takes Money.
Could save you money in the long runYou won’t own all the resources you get access to

6. Outdated CMS software


WordPress is constantly being updated and most hosts either automatically update or allow you to update your software. So that’s no concern, so why is outdated CMS a possible cause for your website to go down? The answer lies in your PHP version.

I won’t spend much time talking about it because I wrote an article explaining how to update the PHP version that you can view here.

Anyways, in addition to updating your PHP, not updating your plugins and themes can cause your WordPress website to go down.

Luckily, there are many ways to keep updated including doing this yourself. So let’s explore the solution below.

The solution.

First off choose a good host! ? make sure your host keeps up to date with the latest PHP technologies.

Secondly, For updating your themes and plugins I already mentioned manual updates. This is simply logging in and doing the required updates. You can also do automatic updates using the Wp Auto Updater Plugin

Thirdly hire proper site care and save time. I already outlined most of the benefits above and it should come as no surprise. I mean, site care encompasses all the aspects that the host may not. It’s extremely necessary as you will see from the other points to follow.

7. Hacking and Malware

Chances are if you get hacked, you will know. And I’m not going to bother explain deeply what hacking is because most persons are familiar with the term hacking. It’s basically the unauthorized access to your website through coding or physical means.

I am however going to say that Google can blacklist your website because of hacking. So without any delays, I’ll just get right into the solutions.

P.s. Yes choose a good host ?

The solution

  • First and foremost, use strong passwords. It’s a little step but it’s nothing minor. Get a password manager like Dashlane or 1password to keep track of your passwords and remember to change them frequently.
  • Update themes, plugins and essential files. Like I mentioned before, you can do this manually or by using a good site care provider. You should also ensure that you stay away from themes and plugins that are no longer supported. Need I say more?
  • Anyways, next on the list is to delete unused themes, use a security plugin and finally ensure you have your SSL installed. Following these steps can go a long way.

Having a backup system in place should be a given for any website. Luckily we offer frequent backups in all our site care plans; you can view the full list of features we offer here.

8. High traffic

high traffic

This can be likened to DDoS in the same respect to volume. But we’re not talking about bots, we’re talking about legitimate traffic. And you will deal with this the same way as above with one addition. Let’s explore.

The solution

As mentioned above, get a CDN. Use a host that allows you some wiggle room for traffic spikes like Bluehost, but remember you’ll be trading a slight amount of reliability.

Ultimately, you may also need to upgrade your plan to match your traffic needs. In any case, you will know if that’s necessary. Normally, you’ll be notified by email or your host’s admin panel.

Final Thoughts

When I thought about all the possibilities for why your website may go down I got overwhelmed. But when you narrow it down, it only comes down to a few principles that get ignored; namely poor hosts, bad site maintenance and improper plugin selection.

I hope the recommendations above have solved your problems. If not reach out to us. Our team here deals with technical issues that cause your WordPress website to go down and much more. Peace ?



Creative Writer | Freelancer | Author I would like to hear your feedback. So leave a comment below.

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